What Is Going To Replace The Resume?

In many previous blogs, I have discussed why I think the standard resume should be replaced by a professional website as the standard employment evaluation platform. I decided to research what published writers are saying in their blogs and articles to answer a few questions: what might replace the resume, why do we need to make a change, and when will this change occur. I am planning to write a series of blogs on this subject, starting with analysis of blogs and articles I have read and then following with a summary of my conclusions.

In the Forbes article “5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Your Resume in 10 years”, Dan Schawbel , a guru in career development technology, makes a compelling argument why an “online presence” is going to replace a resume. In previous blogs, I talk about the concept of a professional identity which is essentially the same as what Mr. Schawbel calls an “online presence” (though my discussion centers more on its functionality).  Some of the similarities between an online presence and a professional identity include: having a domain name as a primary reference point; ranking high in search engines; displaying as a landing page in social media profiles; and establishing your personal brand.

Mr. Schawbel discusses five reasons why an “online presence” (or professional identity) will replace a resume (his words are in quotes):

“Social networking use is skyrocketing while email is plummeting.”

Social media has transformed professional networking and is being used during employment evaluations (51% of HR professionals consider using social media). LinkedIn has developed a sophisticated search mechanism where recruiters can target candidates from their profiles.

“You can’t find jobs traditionally anymore. “

I think this statement is too strong. According to the survey Employers Seeking Employees, a majority of HR professionals ranked finding and applying to job postings as the most important factor while seeking employment.

However, I agree with Mr. Schawbel that times are changing and individuals should brand themselves and introduce a pull approach – where you “pull” potential employers to your professional website – while seeking employment. So, as Mr. Schawbel concludes: “By building your online presence (professional identity), employers can find you and thus you have more opportunities”

“People are managing their careers as entrepreneurs.

Basically, Mr. Schawbel suggests there is high employee turnover in part because employees are always looking for the next exciting opportunity and as evidence shares a stat that 84% of employees plan to look for a new job in 2011. Interestingly, the whole idea of a pull approach can support professionals with what I call “casual employment seeking” – where you lure potential employers to your professional website while you are employed. This is not meant to scare employers with the prospect of higher turnover. Most employers tacitly understand the “flight risk” of their employees, so they should keep their employees properly engaged and incentivized.

“The traditional resume is now virtual and easy to build.”

I agree that much of the content on a resume and a professional website is essentially the same, so it is easy to manufacture digital copies instantaneously.

“Job seeker passion has become the deciding factor in employment.”

I full heartedly agree with this concept as well. This is why a professional website has many ways to infuse your passion into the website including: style and layout of your website, using video content, a blog, and “body of work”.

Mr. Schawbel’s blog entries and articles are all over the internet as he is probably the most prominent author on the subject of professional branding.  I agree with his prediction that the basic one-dimensional resume of today will be morphed into something more advanced in the future, though I think it is necessary to understand it is going to take time; he says in 10 years. So if you are seeking employment, I recommend not abandoning the traditional approach of finding and applying to job listings. And you should build a professional brand where you share your passions and aspirations, which is easier to do with other forms of media than a typical tabular resume. Finally, it is necessary to “get found” – where recruiters and HR professionals can find you in social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter), job search boards (MonsterJobs and CareerBuilder), and online searches (Google, Yahoo, and Bing). And we agree that you should link back to your professional identity (“online presence”) whenever possible.

My application of Mr. Schawbel’s “online presence” (or professional identity) is a professional website. I believe a professional website serves all the functions of an “online presence” and more. A professional website is a multi-dimensional resume with a standardized structure and elements – something that is crucial to be an effective employment evaluation platform.  There has to be a “pre-defined” structure, so individuals making the evaluations know where to find what they are looking for and have a common platform to make comparisons of their target list of candidates; so I disagree with Mr. Schawbel when he suggests the resume will completely go away, remnants will remain. In addition, a professional website supports the presentation of all types of media in one place.

Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Not A “White Collar” Phenomenon

Using web services to advance your career is not limited to “white-collar” or IT and business professionals. I sent a survey, Employees Seek Employers, to HR professionals from 20 different industries/services and 30 US states and there is a clear majority of respondents using web services to find candidates (75%) and every respondent is willing to accept other types of media for employment evaluations (to compliment or replace a standard resume and cover letter).  This tells me a few things.

For many careers, it is necessary to get references to validate your experiences and skills – what LinkedIn calls endorsements. To accomplish this validation, LinkedIn has built a sophisticated, networked interface where your connections can endorse you.  However, I find a few difficulties with their approach: early career professionals simply do not have many connections and have not yet developed many skills; there becomes a “popularity contest” where the number not necessarily the quality of endorsements and connections defines you (why else are the number of connections so prominently placed); and the interface is so impersonal – essentially anyone can endorse you and view your profile without consent. What am I driving at?

You cannot fully rely on a single web service when you are seeking employment, and some web services will work better for you based on your career type and stage.  According to the survey, HR professionals are primarily using LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, and MonsterJobs to find candidates. As discussed above, LinkedIn works great for mid-career, higher-paid professionals (average age of a LinkedIn user is 42 and the average household income is over $88,000). MonsterJobs and CareerBuilder have a service with a more traditional resume approach and therefore might cater better for early career professionals and careers that require less professional networking. Echoing a suggestion in other blog entries, use your professional website as a landing page in each of these web services.

Most HR professionals would agree that the best way to represent yourself while applying to a job or getting found by a potential employer is to provide as much content as you can. Take an inventory of what content you can create and relates to your profession and provide it on your professional website. This might seem difficult if you have little employment experience, but with some self-reflection you should consider the following:

  • If you are a recent college graduate, share sample papers, presentations, and projects from your courses that are a strong representation of your capabilities (74%)
  • Create a video resume (53%)
  • Write a blog (44%)

In parenthesis, the number of HR professionals willing to use it in an employment evaluation according to the survey.

Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Professional Website

It was fascinating making sense of the results from the survey, Employers Seeking Employees, because I was able to get valuable insights from human resource professionals who conduct employment evaluations; something I think can be improved upon with a professional website. I say this because of the following conclusions I was able to make based on the results of the survey.

First, the respondents are using various web services (primarily MonsterJobs, CareerBuilder, and LinkedIn) when trying to find candidates, so it makes sense to link to your professional website in each of their profiles/resumes – create an identity.

Second, a resounding majority of the respondents are willing to review other media than a traditional resume and cover letter and a professional website allows for you share all of these types of media – video resume, portfolio, publications, coursework files, and a blog.

Third, a majority of the respondents (77.2%) agreed that a searching on a skill set is an effective way to find a candidate; the development of a skill set is one key component in the framework of a professional website.

Fourth, the most important factor in getting employed is following the traditional method of “finding and applying to job listings” according to the survey results; the administrative interface of a professional website has many tools to support this method, including: creating PDF resumes and cover letters;  managing contacts and applications; and delivering an application or sending an invitation to your website in an email.

Finally, in open-ended responses, many of the respondents suggested having accurate and error-free content and to use industry specific keywords and skills in material presented to them; through GroupShare, a professional website has tools for peer-reviews and counseling to address these suggestions.

Media Portrait
Media Portrait

Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Types Of Media

It is refreshing to see that human resource professionals are embracing technology and are willing to use various types of media while evaluating a candidate for employment; every respondent from the survey, Employers Seeking Employees, is willing to review other forms of media to compliment or replace the traditional resume and cover letter. Here are conclusions made from the survey results:

  • Most respondents, 77.17%, are willing to review a professional website and in the early evaluation stages. This makes sense considering professional websites may eventually replace resumes as the standard platform for employment evaluations. A professional website has added functionality, richer content, and communication features built into it – why it can be referred to as a multi-dimensional resume.
  • Not surprising, many respondents, 43.48%, are willing to review a video resume during the initial screening stage. Video resumes enable professionals to bring ingenuity to the application process. Candidates must create a script, plan a setting, choreograph a story, and show some personality while creating a video.
  • Many respondents, 35.87%, are willing to read a blog during the initial screening stage.  This confirms the importance in demonstrating you have something to say, and business and communications professors are onto something when they tell their students to start writing a blog.
  • Most respondents are willing to review a “body of work” (publications, coursework, publications) during the initial screening or mid-review stages. Potential employers like to see work samples to make their own validation of a candidate’s capabilities.
  • Social media engagement is clearly something HR professionals are reviewing in an evaluation; there is strong possibility how you represent yourself in Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook might be reviewed in a professional context.
  • By far, these various forms of media are evaluated in the early stage of an evaluation and less so when a final decision is being made.
  • All of these forms of media can be presented on a professional website.
Media Used In Employment Evaluations
Media Used In Employment Evaluations

Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Searching For Candidates

One of the objectives of the survey, Employers Seeking Employees, was to understand whether hiring professionals actively use web services to search for candidates, a requirement for an effective pull approach; where you “pull” a potential employer to your professional website. I think this tendency is becoming more common, especially with certain types of careers. And in open-ended responses, some respondents made it clear they do seek out candidates (see quotes below). However, applying to job listings through job boards, company websites, industry specific websites, and newspapers ranked by far the most important factor in finding employment according to the respondents.

In addition, as I created the survey, I had an assumption that there was a significant increase in the pace of job placement (the time it takes to find and evaluate candidates, and make an offer) for two reasons: the availability of sophisticated web services employers can use to actively seek out candidates; and the necessity to hire quickly in our expanding service industry, especially in IT, business, and communications areas. I did not get as strong of a response as I expected.  On a ranking scale 1 to 5 (5 being a major increase), the average ranking was 2.64 and the largest segment of respondents (38.5%) reported only “somewhat” and in open-ended responses expressed that an evaluation of “soft-skills” remains important.

Here are some of the open-ended responses regarding searching for candidates:

Quotes About Searching For Candidates
Quotes About Searching For Candidates

Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Web Services

According to the survey, Employers Seeking Employees75 percent of the respondents use one of the major online web services for employment placement – whether they use it to seek out employees or post employment listings or collect responses from listings.  The big three web services are MonsterJobs (55.43% ), LinkedIn (53.26%), and Career Builder (53.26%); some of the other web services the respondents use include Google (23.91%), Yahoo (15.22%), WSJ (6.52%), Craigslist, Dice.com, local newspapers websites, government services, professional organizations websites, staffing agencies, Indeed.com, and Jobing.com –  in parenthesis are the percentage of respondents who use the web service. The effectiveness of these web services in finding “a targeted list of candidates” is slightly better than average with a rating of 3.24 out of 5.00.

Employment Web Services
Employment Web Services

Some advice the respondents suggest in standing out with these web services include:

Suggestions To Standout
Suggestions To Standout

Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Overview

I designed a survey to get a better understanding about the tendency and circumstance of employers seeking employees by targeting them in web services – a key ingredient for the effectiveness of a pull approach; where you “pull” a potential employer to your professional website. For a pilot study, I distributed the survey anonymously to 92 human resource professionals.  I wrote a five blog series: a general overview of the pilot study (this blog), a short analysis on web services being usedwhether hiring professionals actively search for candidates, the media respondents are willing to use in their evaluation, and how a professional website can be used in the process.

The answer to the question – are employers seeking employees by targeting them in web services – is sometimes and it is becoming more common, though the traditional methods of finding employment remain most important. The respondents are predominately using LinkedIn, MonsterJobs, Career Builder, and Google and 39.1% of them thought the effectiveness of these web services was only average.

All of the respondents are willing to review various types of media while evaluating a potential candidate; the most commonly accepted media includes a professional website, video resume, portfolio, publications, and coursework.

Most of the respondents, 77.2%, agreed that searching on a skill set is an effective way to find a candidate. One suggestion was to have more uniformity with the presentation of a skill set, so there is little variation with the same basic skill (i.e. website development and website design). From the open-ended responses, the general theme is searching on a skill set is the most effective starting point in finding candidates for employment.

The traditional approach, finding and applying to job listings, ranked as the most important factor in getting employed. Social media engagement and professional networking was slightly higher than personal branding, of course there is some overlap between the two. Writing a blog was the lowest ranked factor; though, 12 of the respondents gave “writing a blog” a first or second ranking.

Finding Employment
Finding Employment

Here is some information about my sample.  

  • 92 HR professionals, all in the United States
  • 92.4% of the respondents are over 30 years old and the largest segment (41.9%) is between 45-60; the yardstick set by LinkedIn is 42 years old (the average age of a LinkedIn user).
  • 58.1% of the respondents are women
  • 79.6% have a college degree
  • Over 20 different industries and services are respresented