Eliminate resumes?

Blogger Seth Godin, known for his very short blog posts, wrote about eliminating the resume.  Then, Matt Youngquist, a career counselor and coach wrote a blog entitled “Time to Ditch the Resume & Embody Your Greatness?”

Seth and Matt make some very important points – most resumes alone do not give the hiring manager enough information to make an informed decision.

In my opinion the resume is not a perfect vehicle to display one’s talents. Over the years, I have reviewed hundreds of resumes for my clients. And yes, all by hand. In most cases the resumes were merely a listing of job titles, company names, dates and locations. It was very difficult to tell what value, if any, the person brought to these positions.

I certainly agree with Matt that the more creative hiring methods involving people instead of machines will require much more time (people + hours) to process. It will also remove the illusion that race, age and other prohibited qualifiers were not used in the decision process. No longer can the company say “The machine picked this applicant–not a human”.

Probably 95% of the job announcements for my field state “5 years of experience in industry X is required”. If there is no resume, how are those unqualified applicants with only 4.99 years of experience going to be eliminated? Oh, wait – is it possible that the person with 4.99 years has better experience than the person with 5 years plus? If the company is requiring a degree and or certification, how will the company know that you have those qualifications without a resume?

My proposed solution to this dilemma is in two steps. First, use a resume that tells the reader “What you can do and have done” instead of just a listing of jobs. Secondly, add examples of (or links to) examples of your work.

We need to begin with a revised resume format. I suggest the following sections:

  • Who You Are – name, city and state, phone number, e-mail and website
  • Position You Want – the name of the position that you are seeking
  • What You Have Done – a few lines of text highlighting the skills and experience you possess that directly relate to the position you are seeking and show the (hopefully upward) progression of your prior positions
  • Key Skills & Qualifications - these are keywords that expand upon  the skills and experience shown in the section above – also, you never know if someone is going to scan your resume
  • Professional Experience & Accomplishments – this section shows your title, employer, beginning and ending dates of employment and MOST IMPORTANTLY the value that you brought to your employer.
  • Community Service & Professional Affiliations - a listing of your volunteer work, especially serving on a non-profit Board of Directors, and your professional affiliations.
  • Education, Certifications & Military Service -  list post secondary education, professional certifications and military service (if applicable)

In addition to your resume, I suggest that you supply examples of, or links to, your work such as:

  • your website
  • your blog
  • articles published in newspapers or magazines
  • speeches / classes that you have given
  • past employer / client testimonials
  • videos you have created

This combination of your resume and examples of your work should help set you apart from the completion.

As an example, I offer the movie “Legally Blonde”. In the movie, the character Elle Woods (played by actress Reese Witherspoon) wants to be admitted to Harvard Law School. As part of her application, she creates a video in which, wearing a bikini and standing in a hot tub, she presents her “arguments” as to why Harvard should accept her.

The chairman of the all-male panel concludes by saying to the panel “Miss Woods welcome to Harvard”.

Unorthodox? Certainly, but it worked for her in the movie.

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