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Tradition is Dead: The Evolution of the Resume

Our latest Virtual Recruiter Quick Poll asked hiring managers and recruiters across Canada a simple question that the industry's been asking for a while: Is the resume dead? To date, the overwhelming majority have answered "No" or "Not yet, but it will be". The poll was inspired by a recent article in the Globe and Mail which raised some great points about social media and the recruiting process. With social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook dominating the Internet, Recruiters are quickly jumping on board and leveraging them to promote jobs and find top candidates.

As a result, both candidates and companies can find each other, learn about each other, and communicate more frequently. This is obviously no secret and it's certainly not a new trend, but it begs the question of whether or not the resume is relevant anymore and, if it is, for how much longer? To answer the question, let's get really technical. According to, a resume is A short document describing your education, work history, etc., that you give an employer when you are applying for a job; a list of achievements; and a short description of things that have happened. Other than a few rare circumstances, an employer will always want to know about a candidate's professional experiences and achievements.

Based on the above definition then, logically, it's safe to say that the resume will not go anywhere; however, you can expect that it will take on different formats than the traditional resume we're used to seeing. As a recruiter or hiring manager, it's important you understand all of these formats so you know what to expect. It would be a shame to pass over a great candidate simply because they don't have a "traditional" resume.

The Paper Resume

It's safe to say that this resume is dead, at least in industries like IT or Finance and Accounting where everybody involved with the hiring process should be well-versed with computers and technology. The paper resume is the one that's dropped off or mailed in by the job seeker and typically follows that age-old "1-2 page only" rule. Because of that golden rule, it's the easiest resume to read, but it's also the most difficult to screen using automated tools, pass around to colleagues, and store in your Applicant Track System (ATS) for later. If you're still accepting these resumes, please stop.

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The Electronic Resume

Perhaps the most common one we see today and still very strong in popularity -- it's not going anywhere for at least a few years. The electronic resume is usually a Word or PDF document and, while some people are still following the golden rule that applies to the paper resume, many more are creating lengthier, more detailed versions of their resume in an electronic format. The electronic resume has benefits for job seekers and recruiters alike. Job seekers can easily manage and edit it, submit it to multiple job boards, and email it directly to a recruiter from the comfort of their home office.

On the other side, recruiters save the resumes in their ATS, screen them, and forward them on in minutes. If you're involved in hiring, the majority of your applicants are most likely submitting electronic resumes, but don't get hooked up on this traditional format. There's a new generation shaking things up.

The Social Resume

As noted above, a resume is simply a way for a job applicant to describe education, work history, and achievements. This can be done in so many more ways than the traditional format. Here are a few things we're seeing:

  • LinkedIn/Social Media: Probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think social. Some professionals keep their LinkedIn profile more up-to-date and detailed than the electronic resume they sent you. In fact, they may not even send you a traditional resume, but just a link to their profile. The advantage of these resumes for a recruiter is that you can seek them out on your own, rather than hoping the all-star candidate finds you. Detailed profiles are usually filled with keywords so if you have a specific need, you can easily search LinkedIn, or even Google, and the profile should pop-up. LinkedIn profiles may also have references on them already, again, saving you a step. You can even look up the people who give the references to judge their credibility.

  • Public Resumes: They look like a traditional resume, and may even be in .doc or .pdf format, but you're not going to receive them directly. Instead, you'll receive a link. A link to a Dropbox or Google Drive folder where the file is saved and accessible to everybody. You can download it for your records, but be sure to keep the link. When the candidate updates the resume, they'll only update it in that public folder and may not let you know unless they really want to work for you. Instead, if you want an updated resume from the candidate, it's up to you to find it.

  • Websites: It seems like a daunting task, but there are services out there that make building a website easy, quick and free. Innovative job seekers are taking advantage of these services to create an entire online presence for themselves that give a recruiter insight into their professional experience, skills and interests. If you receive a web address from a candidate, follow it. It may be shamefully dull, but it may also tell you more of a story about your applicant than their electronic resume could even start to tell you.

That just scratches the surface of the social resume. Overall, since job seekers today have access to so many tools and innovations, we need to be ready to accept resumes in any form. Have you seen any other unique resumes? What do you think of them? Would you consider a candidate who submits asocial resume?