The Death of the Resume... Is Nowhere In Sight

Let’s not get overzealous in thinking that social media will revolutionise every conceivable aspect of life.  I’ve seen so many articles preaching about the death of the resume, the end of the formal selling document, how LinkedIn has rendered the CV redundant. 

This is simply not true and hiring managers who think it is will be doing their company a disservice. Let me explain why…

While social media has certainly changed the way we search for, attract and assess talent in the hiring process, it cannot replace the need for some sort of off-line selling document – whether that is in the traditional resume format or some other form. The reason for this comes down to one thing: achievements.

On LinkedIn, a person can wax lyrical about their responsibilities, however being responsible for something does not mean that you carried out that responsibility successfully.  Achievements act as a support to responsibilities, providing evidence of the candidate’s strengths.  However, one’s achievements might not be appropriate to divulge online.  They may contain sensitive commercial figures, methodologies, specific metrics and statistics that current or past employers may not want exposed in a public forum.  

I like to use this analogy: LinkedIn is like the glossy real estate brochure. It has the number of rooms, attractive features and some beautiful pictures. The resume is the architect’s report - it has more detail, specific measurements and can indicate specific strengths and weaknesses to look out for.  

Some will argue that achievements can be explained at the point of interview; however this would be far less efficient than knowing someone’s achievements and commerciality prior to meeting them.  Knowing these details ahead of time enables a recruiter or hiring manager to assess the appropriateness of a candidate, understand how they have shown initiative and gauge their ability to translate responsibilities into measurable outcomes.  The interview is therefore an opportunity to experience the candidate’s personality, clarify points on their resume, seek more information around their responsibilities and achievements and find out their personal career goals. 

Going from the perusal of a LinkedIn profile to an interview does not create efficiency.  It may even lengthen the recruitment process if you have to interview a longer list of potentials.

While LinkedIn has certainly changed the way candidates can get noticed for new opportunities, it still has certain authenticity limitations.  Endorsements are an obvious one.  While endorsements are a great SEO tool, they are essentially a numbers game and potential employers should be careful in believing that the skills presented on LinkedIn are authentic skills that the candidate holds.  The reality is that if one gives out endorsements they are guaranteed to get some back, thus making the concept of LinkedIn endorsements a throwaway commodity. Businesses need to consider if a person really is the master of a particular skill, or have they simply endorsed enough people to get reciprocal endorsements back?

However, skills can be checked by understanding the achievements of a candidate.  If someone were to have ‘business development’ as a skill on LinkedIn, their achievements should show signs of adept business development.  Perhaps they brought in x% of new business?  Perhaps they increased sales by y%?  This is evidence of their skills in use. 

Hiring Companies:

  • Use social media to gain insight into a potential employee’s skills, experience, enthusiasm, knowledge and participation in the industry.
  • Don’t take their profile at face value, but rather use it as a conversation starter; if they catch your eye, they are worth engaging for further discussion. 
  • Use a resume to get a clear picture of their achievements; their commerciality, delivery of KPI’s and how they have benefitted their past employers.

Job Seekers:

  • In addition to a strong social media presence, always have an updated resume with a clear explanation of achievements.  Show how you are commercial and how you can make an impact on a company. The more measurable the better.
  • Use LinkedIn recommendations to whet the appetite of a potential employer, and then back up the comments made by having strong referees who will attest to your contributions and successes.
  • Participate in discussions on LinkedIn and in industry forums.  Your views, knowledge and thought leadership are just as important as the contents of your resume and can help demonstrate that the skills you have listed on your profile are authentic.

My advice for hiring businesses and job-seeking candidates is to not throw out the resume just yet. While a strong social presence is a great way to draw employers to potential employees, candidates need to back up their online claims with hard evidence and employers need to take online profiles with a grain of salt.