#hrwins Trend Report: The Resume Continues To Evolve, But Doesn’t Seem To Be Dying


An increasing number of vendors are gunning for the “death of the resume”.

This isn’t anything new.  When recruiting and HR moved to the web in the 90s many predicted the end of the resume as resume parsing services and technology started to turn the resume into fielded data in searchable databases.  As the web evolved and Social Networking emerged, the Candidate Profile was then billed as the resume killer.  The candidate profile has grown to include data scraped from other sites where “internet exhaust” is found.  Solutions like Gild, SwoopTalent, or TalentBin pull together candidate information everywhere from LinkedIn to Quora to The U.S. Patent Database in the quest to provide a more complete view of the best candidates to target, recruit, and hire.  Recruitment Marketing and Sourcing Platforms and Applicant Tracking Systems that have been designed with social media and networking in mind do some of the same.

Candidate information is now displayed in a number of different ways.  The search technology and algorithms that are helping recruiters find and then automatically rank candidates in the new ATSes get better all the time.  While these technologies aren’t perfect, they do help a recruiter narrow down what can sometimes be literally hundreds or thousands of candidates, depending on the type of job being filled, to the few dozen they need to spend more time evaluating.

New point solutions, like Archive.ly are emerging that that help sourcers and recruiters compile candidate lists as they scour the web or just travel about their day.

Other solutions are taking the resume on with a full frontal attack.  Solutions like 1Page, who is trying one customer at a time, to move companies to a completely new approach where candidates build one page (get it?) proposals to bid for jobs.  Solutions like these sound like more of a post-resume or post-profile screening tool to me, but that’s another post for another time.

Then there are the branding sites.  Personal Brand continues to become more relevant for Executive, Creative, and Skilled Talent.  At the same time we’re watching the workforce shift to 50% contingent and a Free Agent Nation does seem to be emerging.  Sites like workfolio augment a candidate’s resume and LinkedIn, or other profiles, with media rich representations of themselves.

With all of the innovation and technology thrown at killing the resume since the early 90s, you would think the resume would have died off long ago.  But it doesn’t.  It evolves.

The resume is an incredibly flawed standard.  One of my favorite colleagues used to say “Reading resumes is more like interpreting poetry than reading reference material.”  For all of that being true, the self-built chronological view to someone’s work history that we call the resume is the format still asked for the most, and emulated in the systems I talk about above.

But, why?

I went on a little research mission to find the answer.   The answer to many questions around the recruiting and hiring process is “time”.  Much of the effort put into HR Technology for recruitment is around compressing the cycle times involved in searching, selecting, interviewing, and hiring the best possible candidates from an expanding myriad of sources.  One HR Tech Executive I spoke with, Matt Hendrickson, the CEO and Founder of Ascendify, put it in good perspective.  Matt states,  “For all of the resume’s flaws, recruiters and sourcers can evaluate a resume, or similar format, in about  8 seconds.  Until you can beat the 8 second review the resume will remain the standard.”  Matt should know.  He has a lot of experience with resumes.  Before founding Ascendify, one of the new  ATSes I reference above that was designed with the social web in mind, he created and built ResumeMaker.  ResumeMaker has beenthe #1 selling resume writing software for 14 years and going.  After a 10 year run a the helm of the resume writing market leader he moved his sites to disrupting the ATS market.

Until you can beat the the 8 second “first-pass” review, the resume will remain the standard.

As horrible as it sounds, resumes are looked at that quickly.  Recruiters have developed an incredible knack for looking at a resume and sizing it up against their requirements in a “first-pass” review.

The resume, even with all of its flaws, has set the formatting standard for even the tech-based candidate profiles that are trying to kill it.

There is no doubt that the resume is flawed.  There is no doubt there will be continued innovation around candidate profiles and data sets in HR Technology.  I also don’t see any doubt that all of it will continue look like resumes to me for the foreseeable future.

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#hrwins Trend Report: The Resume Continues To Evolve, But Doesn’t Seem To Be Dying

4 Responses

  1. George,

    Good post. I think you nailed the relevance of the resume here: “Until the 8 second review can be beaten the resume will remain the standard.”

    That being said, the resume is useful for that 8 second screen which is the price of admission. After that a recruiter is better off using the wealth of data that can be found using emerging technlogies or social profiles to get to know a candidate before picking up the phone.

    Bill December 12, 2013 at 10:00 am #
    • Bill, thanks for the comment. I couldn’t agree more. We make analogies between recruiting and Sales/Marketing all of the time. This one comes to mind: In today’s on line world, research shows that 67% of the technology buying process has occurred before a sales person is ever engaged in the process. I think BOTH recruiters and candidates should assume that 67% of the initial screen on both sides has been done before they ever pick up the phone. Both candidates and employers are looking at more data on each other than ever before available before the first phone screen.

      glarocque December 12, 2013 at 10:41 am #
  2. George, Just as search technology continues to help recruiters automatically rank job seekers to narrow down thousands of candidates to a few dozen, many qualified candidates are being left behind. It’s more important than ever for candidates to customize their resume submissions for each and every job application. Candidates must include the job description keywords in their resume submission in order to make the final cut. The days of submitting the same resume to every job application are long gone. Jobminx.com can help candidates target resumes with keywords.

    Suzanne December 18, 2013 at 9:21 pm #
    • Suzanne, I won’t charge you for that shameless plug. I was close to pushing it to spam, but the thought of candidates leveraging keywords from a job descr in a resume is an interesting idea and relevant to the post. I think part of the challenge vendors face is that they put all candidates in the same persona. Normally inaccurately as passive or active. I think there are many more types of candidates and while a good number of them would find it useful to modify their resume for each submission, I think an even larger number won’t even consider it relevant. That being said, I haven’t seen your product, so I’ll stop there.

      glarocque December 19, 2013 at 11:37 am #

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