Submitting a summary of your experience to prove your qualifications to potential employers in the form of a resume has been with us for a long time. Historians believe the first instance was Leonardo da Vinci’s 1485 letter to Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, listing his abilities and seeking employment. Of course, since this first iteration, the resume has gone through an iterative evolution, but the basic idea has remained the same.
Over the last several decades, the resume’s style and formatting have evolved with the onset of word processing. Now, twenty years into the new millennium, we’re looking at what could be the most comprehensive evolution in this 500-year-old idea.
The Internet Age
When the internet first started to take hold, everyone imagined the world would begin to look like something out of the Jetsons in a few short years. Offices would go completely paperless, and the free flow of information would make our workdays much easier. Suffice to say, it hasn’t quite worked out the way we imagined. And, when it comes to the paperless office, we actually use more paper today than we did 30-years-ago when everyone was prophesizing the end of the paper industry.
Over that same span, resumes have undergone some changes, but more in the method of delivery than in the end product itself. First, email-attachments allowed people to send a Microsoft Word version of their resume to a prospective employer. Following that, the Upload feature made it so job seekers could upload that same Word file (or possibly a PDF) to the company’s database for consideration. All these advancements and yet, our resumes were essentially still a digital piece of paper.
The Social Media Era
The real change occurred when social media started to take off in popularity, about halfway through the new millennium’s first decade. Of course, we’re only beginning to see the results of that change now. Social media made it so everyone could have an easy to use online persona. And what started as a bit of fun has evolved over the last fifteen years into an entire digital ecosystem.
It’s only in the last few years that the idea of letting go of the classic resume became a real possibility. Today, it’s evident that its slow demise is already underway. While a traditional resume is required to apply for most positions currently, it’s already clear that employers are looking well beyond the documents you submit.
The Professional Profile
LinkedIn launched in 2002, and while it had a core group of early adopters in those first ten years, it was really more of a professional novelty. Today, with more than 722 million users, LinkedIn is the leading factor in the classic resume’s coming obsolescence. If you don’t have a profile to support your resume, many employers may take that as a mark against you and start to wonder what you’re hiding. In the next few years, the likelihood that your LinkedIn profile could be used in place of a classic resume is a real probability.
To streamline their processes, some companies have already moved to using this professional-profile platform in place of asking for resume submissions. It’s also worth noting that social media platforms allow you to easily connect and network with potential employers by design. Whether you are looking to network for future opportunities or looking to find a new position now, connecting directly over LinkedIn or Twitter gives you an introduction to potential employers that a classic resume can’t compete with.
Of course, social media is much bigger than just LinkedIn, and that matters. According to a 2019 study, 70 percent of employers look at your public social media profiles. While this statistic further emphasizes the need to develop your LinkedIn presence, it also highlights another essential feature of the resume’s evolution. Today, everything you post online should be considered part of your resume. Your Facebook profile is an excellent way to highlight your community connections and commitment to family. At the same time, Twitter can demonstrate your passion for ideas and your engagement with peers regarding issues you care about.
And while it’s not as crucial that you have a social media presence beyond LinkedIn, it is vital that if you do, these platforms don’t sabotage your professional ambitions. Be sure to control what you’re tagged in and how you engage with others. One poorly worded tweet or compromising photo from a New Years’ eve party several years ago could be the difference between an offer or not.
The Age of the Authority Figure
Building on the idea that everything you publish online can be considered part of your resume, the Blog (or weblog) has matured from something that was widely dismissed by polite society into a professional game-changer. With digital services like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly, anyone can create a drag and drop digital space to explore ideas and build a following with a custom URL. Using a blog or personal portfolio website, you can take your digital resume to the next level. While it doesn’t alleviate the need to maintain a social media presence, it can provide you with a place to create content to share on those platforms. Beyond that, by publicly discussing ideas and sharing your work, you demonstrate a commitment to your profession that simply can’t be expressed on a classic resume.
Blog posts allow potential employers to get a truer sense of your expertise and your connection to the work you do. However, it’s worth noting that many professionals do themselves a disservice by allowing their blogs to become needlessly argumentative, outdated, or outright forgotten. Always remember that your site is an extension of your personal brand. While it can be an incredible asset, it can also detract from your ability to get that next opportunity if done wrong.
The Future is Video
What 2020 has demonstrated is that there is nothing as powerful as a real human connection. When the pandemic hit, companies that had been slowly developing video platforms for years were suddenly forced to realize that they were now essential services. And while previously video was gradually becoming something to consider in an evolved digital resume, it has become fundamental after this year.
The Video Profile
Similar to the idea of a Blog, the Vlog (or video log) has become an accessible medium for many professionals to discuss ideas online. As a result of every smartphone coming equipped with a high-quality video camera, it’s now easier than ever to create content that not only demonstrates your skills and interest in your profession but also connects the viewers to you as a real person. Using video to help develop your personal brand allows a potential employer to feel they know you before ever meeting you in person.
The Video Interview
As most of the world is connecting over Zoom these days, an essential component of your evolved resume now includes managing the video interview. Not only do you need to dress the part, but your space needs to set up as to not distract from your professional qualifications. Keep your background uncluttered and professional looking. A few books or items connected with your personal brand are ok but don’t get carried away. The interviewer needs to remain focused on you and not be distracted by your nick-nacks. Also, be sure to test your space and technology beforehand. You want to practice a few times with a friend to ensure the WiFI is strong, the sound is good, and you’re familiar with the video platform they plan to use. Most everyone is still patient with technology issues these days, but if you can troubleshoot any problems and manage them before they happen, it doesn’t hurt.
Even the Old Resume is New
Earlier in this article, we talked about how the classic resume is evolving. Far from being a word processing document, you should think of the future resume as everything you publish online. However, it’s worth pointing out that even the simple resume document has found ways to evolve. Today several digital platforms are available to assist you in creating a resume that tells a story. Apps like Resume.com, PathSource, and VisualCV are just a few of the tools that can help you turn your basic Word file into a graphics integrated document that will help you best highlight what you bring to the table.
There was a time when excessive creativity on a resume could be a questionable decision, but in today’s fast-paced job market, employers want to see your ingenuity appropriately displayed. Just be sure you aren’t overindulging in graphic elements or flourishes that distract from the core of your resume’s message.
You are the Curator
For the first time in the resume’s 500-year history, it’s become abundantly clear that the classic document is no longer a wholly sufficient way of presenting your credentials. With so many representations of your professional self available to potential employers, an applicant needs to think less about drafting a summary and more about curating a personal brand. The future of the resume will ultimately become the task of ensuring that all the digital properties out there represent you in the best way possible. And while it’s likely to involve a more consistent effort, it will have a greater ability to open up new opportunities and connect you to employers in a way that was never possible before.
We Can Help
If you find yourself struggling to adapt to the resume’s changing nature, our team of recruitment specialists are here to help you. Since 2005, we’ve been working with candidates across a wide variety of industries to help them communicate their expertise in a way that companies understand. With more than 300 years of combined experience, we can guide you as you evolve your resume for the next big opportunity.