The resume was created 500 years ago. That is old. As far as I can tell, over these 500 years not a lot of people have stopped and asked the question “is the resume out of date; is it time for an upgrade?” The consequence is evident. Instead of innovation we have simply worked our systems around the underlying fact, that, the resume is terribly inefficient and far from perfect.
Those born in the 1960’s or earlier never saw this consequence (when first applying for jobs). When my parents were applying for jobs, their interactions were almost always face-to-face. And then came the internet. When I was a child, the internet was a tool. Then came Myspace, Microsoft office, Facebook, then… You get the idea. Instead of a luxury, the internet has more or less become a necessity. More and more became digitized over a fairly short period of time; a tragedy of innovation is the resume ultimately got left behind.
And more so, populations have grown exponentially. Where once a high school diploma was enough, and achieving one was a sense of pride, a high school diploma is now a prerequisite. And while a College diploma is better, it is still not enough. The problem is not a lack of jobs but rather unrealistic criteria that employers have come to expect of newly graduated students. Everyone is supposed to be a leader, have excellent communication skills, be a 4.0 student, be involved on campus, and have someone who can vouch for them that A) either works for the company or B) Has a prestigious title. What’s more, employers want cheap. Instead of proper training programs, companies look to cut costs by having overly simplistic programs and simply choose the lucky few who do not require initial training.
That’s not to say all companies do this but after interviewing with a handful of companies and declining a few offers, the trend is alarming. What’s more is a lot of the more “prestigious” companies don’t take the time of day to look at your resume. We are keyword searches to some. The process has nothing to do with qualification but rather who can write well and use the best buzzwords. It’s an absolute tragedy. Is a text the same as an email? Is a phone call the same as talking to someone face-to-face? No. And many would agree. Does a page of paper tell the story of a person? Do a few sentences and a few bullets points show a persons charisma? Does it show their grit, how well they’ve dealt with adversity? No. And yet, with so many applicants, what is a company to do?
The best innovation, after centuries of having the resume, is the the Curriculum Vitae. What is it? The crude definition is a two-page resume. That’s it. If employers barely have time to read over a 1 page resume, who had the bright idea of “innovating” so that the resume is now two pages?
What can we do?
Call it naive, but I want to solve this problem. The resume has become a norm when it should’ve been discarded decades ago. We need a better standard to use. If we continue to perpetuate the problem by continuing to use the resume, imagine how much talent will be lost. Too many people have to ask the question “if I could only get my foot in the door…” Imagine a world with an open door policy. The question is how…
What’s being done
LinkedIn has done a phenomenal job of shifting the process towards the future. It’s created a community of professionals where people need not be afraid to share their stories and play with their professional identity. Easy apply takes the job search process and makes it a one-click, stress free hassle. I can write all my experiences on LinkedIn, employers can see what skills I have, and I can requests recommendations so employers don’t have to.
Staffing agencies have become increasingly relevant over the last decade. Staffing agencies work much like a middleman. If companies are feeling cheap, they can hire a staffing agency and essentially outsource their recruiting. These are professionals trained to sniff out potential. It’s a way to reach almost everyone and while not perfect, more often than not you will get an interview with a company that is a proper person-fit.
New Power School of thought-
New Power is the idea that information should be shared rather than withheld; blogging is an example of ‘New Power’. This is not so much a system or institution but rather an emerging social trend (as well as a new way of thinking) that is beyond exciting. Old Power is a system where seniority and title take precedence. As I’ve come to believe and see, this school of thought (old power) is on it’s death spiral. With the emergence of the internet, the potential employee is equipped with knowledge at their finger tip. Sites like Glassdoor have capitalized on this new school of thought and have brought a level of employer-employee transparency the likes we have never seen. While ‘old power’ still exists, I imagine it will be almost unheard of in the next decade or so.
A few closing thoughts
While the current trends are promising, if you’re unemployed, it’s still a tough grind and can seem impossible to get noticed. And that’s a shame. As far as innovating the resume, my idea is that innovation will come in the form of an App or perhaps a more visual format. Imagine if the resume was designed around telling a story. Instead of writing buzzwords on a piece a paper, imagine creating a five minute video where you didn’t feel pressure to say exactly what the employer wants to hear. The job searching (and application) process shouldn’t be a chore, it should be fun! And that comes only from employers and potential employees finding common ground. Especially in the realm of business, we need systems that reflect and encourage creativity, not ones that encourage cookie cutter attempts to impress employers.
A Call to Action
If you have ideas, don’t be afraid to express them. Nothing changes if we do what already has been done. Play around, discuss with friends and start creating the new normal. Try using your idea with an employer. If it fails, try again. And do not be afraid to share; sharing gives us a new perspective and helps an idea grow.
Thanks for reading! I’ve been wanting to talk about the resume for quite a few years now. However, each time I approached the topic it never felt quite right. It’s a sensitive topic and must be handled with grace. I hope this helps and feel free to comment below if you have ideas or simply want to point out what I might of missed.