Yes, it’s true. Not only is the resume dying but the replacement is either the devil incarnate or the holy grail, depending on your point of view.
What do I mean? Let’s paint a picture of what is may be like to apply for a job in just a year or two. You will log onto a corporate web site and locate the prominently displayed “CAREERS” or “JOBS” icon and click. You will be quickly transported to a web site within the web site dedicated to enticing, informing, educating, assessing, and testing you for a potential job. You will be able to read about different positions, even experience vicariously what it might be like to actually have that job, and learn about the organization itself in whatever depth you would like. While this is already demonstrated on the best-in-class web sites today (see Trilogy, Cisco, Lucent), the experience will get increasingly real as firms incorporate tools like streaming video and audio. You will then be asked a number of questions about your past experience, education, interests and skills. These will be voluntary, but if you are serious about possible employment you will most likely be required to complete the resume builder. These questions will be crafted to determine how well you will fit into the corporate culture, how well you align with the corporate values, and how you react as a member of a team. Microsoft already has an optional aptitude/interest test on their web site which helps viewers decide which position matches their interests best. It is a simple step to move to requiring this and selecting people based on the results. For example, Select Profiles provides this service. By making it easy and efficient to deliver tests, the Internet will become the way these tools are deployed and they will be deployed early, before time or money is used to interview people face-to-face or screen resumes. But tests are only the tip of a huge iceberg. The Internet also makes it possible to require you to demonstrate proficiency in skills you claim to have. If you indicate that you can read and write French, you may be asked to do so on the spot as part of the resume/screening process. Your typing may be checked as you enter data because the speed and accuracy with which you do this can be tracked. In fact, speed of answering may be a factor in judging your proficiency and honesty. You may be asked to look at a spreadsheet and give an answer to a question or two, or you may be asked to provide samples of work you have done. As I have written before, the concept of a portfolio, such as those that artists and musicians have, will become the norm for almost all jobs. The difference is that the portfolios will be digital and they will be dynamic — needing to change as the situations and jobs change. You may also be asked to participate in a simulated activity, not unlike the assessment centers that were so popular a decade or two ago. These simulations will put you into situations where you have to make decisions quickly. The computer will assess your answers and provide easier or more difficult situations depending on your answers. The ability of the computer to change question difficulty based on previous responses, make it more powerful and discriminating than a paper and pencil test. More and more firms are applying these techniques in larger and more comprehensive packages. Capital One is using pre-employment tests and correlating them with on the job performance. The results will be used to refine the tests and make them more and more accurate. Other firms such as Marriott Hotels, Proctor & Gamble, and Knight-Ridder also use a variety of testing methods — some on paper and some on computer — but all moving toward deploying them via the Internet in real time. Those who are strong advocates of privacy and independence will probably feel that these techniques and tools come from the devil himself. Others, looking for faster, cheaper and better ways to choose people for complex and critical jobs will feel that they have found the holy grail. The truth, of course, lies between these two extremes. There is no doubt in my mind that more organizations will use these techniques more frequently and for a wider audience over the next few years. There is also no doubt that candidates will rebel, learn to evade the tests, develop techniques for using the computer to psych out the I interrogating computer and so forth. In the end, it will always boil down to two things: people talking to people and results. People meeting face-to-face, sharing emotions, smells, jokes, and facial expressions will frequently override the most astute computer. And, if you get results, no matter what how you test, you will get and keep a job. But, I recommend developing a digital dynamic portfolio – just to be ready!