Can Social Media Replace a Resume?

In the Mashable article “4 Reasons Recruiters Should Stop Accepting Traditional Resumes” ,  Sudy Bharadwaj argues social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and Tumblr should become the focal point in an employment evaluation, replacing the traditional resume.  His approach is different from building an “online presence” or professional identity (discussed in an earlier blog What is going to replace the resume?) because he suggests using social media web services as the centerpiece. Mr. Bharadwaj’s argument is centered on four reasons:

“Better representation of candidates. “

Mr. Bharadwaj argues that social media profiles are a better representation of a candidate’s personal brand. I agree that social media profiles are an improvement from the traditional resume in some ways, but I think a professional website is an improvement from social media profiles. A LinkedIn profile has the most depth and could be used in a basic employment evaluation; however it does not yet use all types of media available on the internet and does not have much latitude in promoting a “personal brand” with a visual appealing presentation. Think about it, when a company promotes their brand with an advertisement, how much of their presentation is visual as compared to textual (like a resume, or a LinkedIn profile); obviously the underlying meaning trumps anything else, but there is value in displaying style and using other forms of media rather than straight text – it adds another dimension.  I think a professional website is more functional and visually appealing than social media profiles and therefore a better way to present a personal brand (both are better than a resume).

“Social media shows creativity.”

There are some social media outlets where candidates can show creativity, such as Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr (as Mr. Bharadwaj mentions), and demonstrating ingenuity is a good thing. However, I do not think we should completely abandon all aspects of the resume for two reasons. First, social media profiles are not comprehensive enough. For example, you can upload a great video resume on YouTube but would the video have enough information to make an employment evaluation – probably not.  Second, there has to be a common platform to make proper comparisons (i.e. apples to apples); a resume is standardized and is commonly recognized in every industry. A professional website solves these two problems. A professional website has all the content and structure of a resume with advanced functionality to promote communication and interactivity. It also supports all types of media in one place.

“Makes candidates three-dimensional.”

Mr. Bharadwaj suggests that adding various types of media, such as a video, allows for candidates to “present themselves three-dimensionally”. I often refer to a professional website as a “multi-dimensional resume” for this reason.   Ditto the arguments made above.

“Demonstrate Social Media Fluency.”

I guess it is worth showing you understand the nuances of social media, though this is vague.  Learning the “ins” and “outs” of social media is usually straightforward; some users might be more advanced than others but I am not sure how much of an impact that should have with an employment evaluation (unless it is what you will be doing everyday).

My answer to Mr. Bharadwaj’s question, “should recruiters stop accepting traditional resumes”, is yes. However, I think rather than social media, a professional website is a better platform for employment evaluations. I agree with Mr. Bharadwaj that social media can expand creativity and provide a much richer experience for recruiters, however, only piecemeal. LinkedIn has the best profile for an employment evaluation but is still not complete. A professional website brings everything together.

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