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By Charles Purdy, Monster.com Senior Editor
I really dislike news stories with a "The resume is dead!" message -- such as "No More Resumes, Say Some Firms" in the Wall Street Journal -- primarily because I worry that these articles may mislead people (young people, especially) into thinking that they don't need resumes anymore. And that is not the case.
A digital presence -- via social media, professional networks, and so on -- has not replaced the traditional-format resume. The fact is, most people need both. And although a video resume, or an infographic resume, or a quilt resume made from old T-shirts may be attention-getting, none of these can yet replace a traditional resume -- an off-beat medium may garner interest, but it'll be in addition to your traditional resume, not instead of it. The simple reason is that most recruiters and managers -- we're talking about the vast majority -- have set up a workflow that requires word-document resume files. First, these files are searchable and easily to store. Just for example, note that many Monster.com customers (which include 97% of Fortune 1000 companies) use our resume-search tools to find candidates before (or instead of) posting jobs. If all you've got is a video resume, you'll miss out.
Second, everyone "speaks" resume. You can give a resume to just about anyone, and he or she will know where to look in order to find necessary information about you. (And that's not to mention the resume-reading software employed by lots and lots of companies -- this software is not advanced enough, yet, to decipher an infographic in a PDF file.) Keep in mind that hiring is not done by just one person. Say you're after a design job at a cool little ad agency. Your quilt resume worked -- it got the art director's attention. But before she can hire you (or interview you), she likely has to get buy-in from her creative director, the VP of accounts, the HR director, and some stuffy people who just won't get it.
And third, to take this Wall Street Journal story as an example, reporters often seem to confuse finding a candidate with assessing a candidate. That second step is done in a variety of ways, including reading a resume -- as well as researching the candidate, interviewing him, testing him, and so on. That has always been the case.
Stories about companies bypassing resumes, and using only social media to hire, get into the news because they are oddities. But really, there's nothing fundamentally new happening here. Recruiters have always relied on reputation, at least in part, to find and assess candidates -- nowadays, we all have the power to create a reputation online and via digital networks. So a recruiter might just come to you because she loves what she your social-media presence says about you (whereas in the "olden days," she might have heard about you from a real-world contact). But then she's probably going to ask for your resume.
A final misperception promoted by "The resume is dead!" stories is that resumes are by their nature boring and blah. But to be clear, when I say "traditional," I am referring to the medium (document files), not the message. Within the resume format, it's now wise to speak more conversationally (avoiding trite, overused resume terminology), and to use dynamic, attention-getting language. (For more resume tips and a library of example resumes, visit Monster.com's Resume and Cover Letters Advice section.)
The "death of the resume" has been greatly exaggerated. It's still an important job-search tool.