Extra: Paper resumes are dead, dead, dead…or ought to be

This guest post appeared today in the blog, The Graduate Student Survival Guide on the web site of the Albany Times Union. Thanks to blogger, Brandon J. Mendelson for presenting this piece to his readers.

Paper resumes are dead, dead, dead…or ought to be

by Douglas E.Welch

The paper resume is a relic of a century past. Designed to be shuffled and filed, traditionally limited to one page, resumes are the buggy whips of our age. With online alternatives exploding, you can learn much more about a job candidate, in a much more inclusive and casual fashion, than might ever be represented by a typical resume. You can learn about the full individual, not just a one-line statement of responsibility for their last job. I would think myself a poor catch if my entire career could be summed up on one sheet of paper. As Walt Whitman said, “I am large. I contain multitudes.”

Getting a job is all about telling stories and paper resumes are the equivalent of soundbites — short, pithy and signifying nothing. Why should we continue to use resumes when we can point to our blogs, our videos, our photo galleries or even our Facebook page? I like to think that anyone looking to hire me for a job could get enough information about me to make a fully informed decision about whether to have me in for an interview or offer me a job. More important, they might find something about my life that cinches the deal for them in some way. You can never tell what might interest others or what might prove useful in your non-work background. You don’t know what might prove interesting to an employer, so you should seek to share your work and your life and let others decide the worth of that information.

A major part of career success is visibility — exposing people to what you do and how well you do it. You might be best writer, programmer, plumber, whatever, but if no one knows what you do, what does it matter. Creating an online resume out of blogs, Facebook, Flickr, community web sites and more allows people to “stumble across you” in ways that a paper resume could never allow.

Of course, in this new world, this means that each of us needs to be constantly conscious of what we are sharing and the impact that might have on friends, family and employers. We must remember that we aren’t being judged on one page of text, but the sum total of everything that we do and share. Frankly, I greatly prefer this well-rounded, if more intimate knowledge of my life. It insures that everyone involved enters into a business relationship with as much information as possible.

People on both sides of the hiring equation need to use online tools to everyone’s benefit. Companies gain employees who are a better fit and have the skills the company needs to thrive. Candidates know that they can promote themselves online (like any good brand) and give companies the information they need to make better interview and hiring decisions. Let’s replace the resume with one simple line of text…the URL to your web site…or lifestream…or blog.

Douglas is a new media consultant and writer of Career Opportunities, a weekly column and podcast available at http://welchwrite.com/career/ .

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