Ditch the paper resume

I hate to put it in such bold terms, but the paper resume is dying. It’s vestigial and will hang around for a long time being mostly symbolic, but it’s becoming irrelevant.

And, it’s not just dying among online marketers or “young people.” Think about the last time a paper resume got you an interview, landed you a job, etc.

For my current job and at my last job, I either learned about the position through Twitter, met someone influential at the company through online channels (read: not through just applying online), or made the most influential case for myself pre-interview online with my blog , Linkedin account , Twitter profile , etc. The case is the same for people my age, who are much smarter and more capable than I am.

We’ve learned that there has to be something more than a piece of paper that entices employers and clients to talk to us. We pass the Google test. Our Linkedin profiles are much more in-depth, have recommendations to and from us, AND can be made into a pdf by the person viewing them.

Now, online might be the way that some people hook potential interviewers or employees, but let’s say you’re a lunch lady/dude at a high school. Last time you changed schools, was it your paper resume that landed you that interview or got someone interested in hiring you or was it someone talking about, saying “Hire him. He’s a great worker”? Maybe, your reputation preceded you. The same can be said of receptionists, medical assistants, and any number of other positions. Even doctors get their interviews because “she went to school ABC.”

The last time you hired someone to install a hot tub, did you ask for a paper resume? How about when you hired a marketing agency, a part-time bookkeeper, or a hairdresser? No, you looked online or asked someone more informed than you and thought, “He’s only been in business for 6 months? Not hiring him,” “They did the X campaign? Call them NOW,” and on and on and on.

No matter what stage you are in your career, lifecycle at a job, or business, do what it takes to make yourself attractive. Do your networking. Polish your Linkedin profile. Use your Twitter account. Blog on topic now and then. Make sure your resume looks good so that it’s ready, but it will not land you that interview.

You’re not approachable if you can’t be found, and you’re not marketable if you don’t put yourself out there. Yeah, I might interview you based solely on a paper resume (probably not though), but if you had an online profile, I might have noticed prior to the interview that you had a glowing recommendation from a former employer and therefore gotten clearance to bump the pay range a little.

How will your Google test look next time you apply to my company? Will your Linkedin profile tell me you’re an experienced CEO and we should hire your company? If not, get working because that resume or pitch deck you just emailed me probably got overlooked because one of your smarter competitors figured this out before you.

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  • Ron McManmon
    I agree... EXCEPT for a few points. I develop and teach career programs to career coaches and jobseekers, alike. We, the internet people, are still a minority and to bridge the gap between having a resume vs. going "resume-less" sort of reminds me of when women started burning their bras in the 60's... Well, they're still wearing them and probably not a bad idea for some:) Change takes time:( and while things simply happen much faster today there are still 75M baby boomers out there and these by a large part are the hiring managers; so don't burn your resume just yet.

    The other point I would like to make about a resume / CV is, we interviewed over 10K executives and not one of them had a career business plan - WOW! We look at the resume to accomplish much more than a piece of paper you throw over the fence to get a job. You resume should be a "product matrix, marketing document, interview presentation AND last but not least........ the outline to your career business plan!

    Eventually we'll all have computers, the internet and the trees will be much happier but until then take advantage of what this document can do for you. It will teach you more about yourself than you can possible imagine, if done correctly!

    One persons humble opinion - Cheers Ron.
  • Ron, your point about a career business plan was for me: mind = blown. I mean, many of us of course read that we need business plans, personal goals, etc, but I think it's been a long time since I thought specifically about a plan for my career. I'm really glad that you commented about that. That's for sure something I can work on.

    You make a great point that the resume cannot just be a piece of paper...or as I think David Crandall once said to me "a glorified business card." At the moment, I'm reading The Duct Tape Marketing Book, and much like the author discusses smart small business marketing, there are so many things that are applicable to individuals in job hunts and general career progression. Yet, we often tend to think of ourselves as being unlike a business and not even considering whether the same planning should be done for ourselves.

    Thanks for commenting, Ron. You've given me a new project (grrrrr), but something that I believe will be valuable for me.
  • Wow Pratum, this was really, really strong, and frankly a subject I hadn't thought about up to this point. There are so many trends that are changing the way we do anything that it's almost impossible to grasp each cultural shift. But your points here regarding where our individual branding/networking focus are spot on. Keep up the excellent work.
  • Thanks, Marcus. I realized after the fact that I should have emphasized the general offline word-of-mouth, networking, customer service, keeping clients and friends happy, etc, because in certain industries, that can be infinitely more valuable than blogging and whatnot. Nonetheless, the kernel of the idea is that there is so much more to landing that interview, client, etc than the slacker form of advertising oneself: resumes, business cards, and "please hire me" emails.

    Thanks for commenting, Marcus. I really appreciate your support.
  • Looks like there is a whole other blog post waiting to happen from your list of offline suggestions for branding.

    Just sayin. ;)
  • Mark Lawrence
    Great post! I agree that the importance of paper resumes are on the decline for many industries. The online presence of one's personal brand is gaining more and more importance each day. I don't think it's as cut and dry as "a paper resume probably won't land you an interview now". At least not yet. But it doesn't matter. We need to look forward to the changing world in the internet space. There will be a day when the paper resume is obsolete. Is that today? No. However, it's important to position ourselves for the future by harnessing these internet tools today.
  • Thanks, Mark. I would definitely agree that the day is coming, where (as David said on his blog) the resume will be more of a formality like a business card. It'll still be valuable for reminding people of you, as a leave behind, etc, but it won't get anyone's. It's up to reputation manage, networking, blogging, word of mouth, etc to draw opportunities to you and make you more memorable.
  • Love it! Great that both of us posted on the uselessness of the resume on the same day. LOL What can I say, us "industry leaders" just have such a great feel for the pulse of the online world. ;)

    Great article though. I already know a few people that I want to intentionally send this to.
  • Thanks, David. Much appreciated.
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