My Blog Is My Resume

Just when you think you’ve mastered the Internet, along comes a new generation that is changing the way we use the Web. It will be incumbent on today’s recruiting innovators to rethink and shift their recruiting tactics in response to the changing dynamics of the Web’s second generation.

Ten years ago, leading companies identified that the habits of their target audience were rapidly changing. The Internet, once an exclusive haven for techies and geeks, was now becoming an indispensable resource for everyone from college students to experienced professionals.

This shift enabled a virtual revolution in recruiting, with large recruiting teams, high costs, and long hiring cycles giving way to faster, more agile recruiting departments that could do much more with less and more quickly.

This shift to online recruiting began with next-generation job seekers: namely, college students. Today we can see that the college audience is once again proving to be a bellwether audience signaling times of change ahead.

From the way they use the technology to the way they interact with and create social circles, their changing behaviors are behind the increasingly rapid evolution of the Internet as we know it.

Is There Really a Web 2.0?

We’ve heard hot buzzwords before like push technology, convergence, and custom portals. Not much materialized from these concepts except that fledgling businesses without viable business models raised large amounts of venture capital, threw lavish parties, and ultimately, crashed and burned (some in spectacular fashion). We fell in love with a sock puppet, but not enough to buy pet supplies from him. We watched the Furniturewarehouse.com Bowl on national television. If you were lucky, you saw Celine Dion or KISS at an IPO party. If you were unlucky, you bought stock in said party-thrower. And a few winners survived.

And now comes “Web 2.0.” Terms like user-generated content, tags, social networks, contextual targeting, and mass customization have emerged. Sites like MySpace, YouTube, del.icio.us, and Digg have become overnight sensations. There are 50 million blogs, with two new blogs getting created every second.

Websites are becoming much more dynamic and immersive than ever before, threatening to turn the “world’s biggest library” into the “world’s biggest form of interactive entertainment.”

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I believe that Web 2.0 is a convenient, easily understandable phrase that represents a much broader set of changes happening online. Yes, there are some technological changes underway allowing new sets of innovations. There are some new (and recycled) approaches to business problems that would have never been possible without the level of online participation that we see today (for perspective, 75% of U.S. households are online, and it took only five years for the Internet to reach 50 million people vs. 38 years for TV and 13 years for radio). The Internet and the technology and processes behind it are maturing.

More important for recruiting is that the audience is changing. They’re using the Internet in entirely different ways than the original Web generation did. Some of the changes happening with this new generation include:

  • The Web is a hub of social interaction. It is no longer just an information resource, which results in this generation forming fewer close friends and more “weak ties,” or people they do not know well, but unite with around common interests.
  • Privacy is no longer an issue. This generation seems quite comfortable publishing all of the gory details of their lives online. Some of these details will shock you. Get used to workers who are perfectly functioning members of the work world, but who perhaps make decisions in their personal lives that you find appalling.
  • More time spent online than watching TV. During this time, they visit dozens of sites vs. congregating in just a few, hopping from social networks to friends’ websites to blogs and music-sharing sites like Last.fm.
  • The Web is always on. This generation is always connected and never sitting in one place long enough to get their attention. They work faster but have a myriad of distractions to keep them occupied before, during, and after work hours, and they expect their employers to be okay with this as long as they’re working hard and producing.
  • An inherited Gen X cynicism. This generation may not trust the marketing messages they’ve been bombarded with throughout their lives. As such they are harder to communicate with through traditional and mass media.

The Next Generation of Job Seekers

Job-seeker behavior and expectations are also beginning to change. The implications on how companies find and connect with people will be significant. While some of the old habits of previous unwired generations carried through to the first generation of Internet users (i.e., writing a great cover letter will get you that job!), the new Web generation will completely redefine the job search and bring new expectations to the workforce.

Here are a few examples of the changes underway:

  • Because they don’t trust marketing messages, the “culture section” of your website or the employee testimonial will no longer add much insight into the work experience. Instead, they will use their broader set of connections to give them new, more honest insights into what it’s like to work at your company or even for a specific hiring manager.
  • How you use technology will have a bigger impact on job-seeker perceptions of you as an employer. They won’t have patience with bad websites and user experiences. If something is broken on the website, the company will be perceived as broken and not worth working for.
  • Many job seekers, growing up in the level playing field that is the innovation economy, will often expect to be judged by their ideas, not their experience. Resumes will become irrelevant (or at best, a meaningless formality that describes your work history, not who you are). View this discussion on Robert Scoble’s blog to see what I mean; it’s the inspiration for the title of this article. If this attitude exists, outside of the system or not, think about whether you could even interview someone like Robert with your current process.
  • You won’t find as many candidates you’re interested in sitting in big databases. Instead, you will find them commenting on blogs, in user forums, on social networks, in niche sites, or reachable via opt-in and permission-marketing techniques.
  • To gain credibility with passive candidates, you will need to be more educated on who they are and how they think. They will expect that you have read their blogs, seen their portfolio, or viewed recommendations from co-workers and supervisors who have vouched for their intelligence and work ethic. If you don’t do your homework, they won’t return your calls or be receptive to your offer. And once again, you can’t always expect a resume from a passive candidate.
  • You can no longer control or restrict information, nor would I suggest trying. If your work environment is terrible, people will hear about it. Someone will blog about it, comment on it, or IM others about it. You have no choice but to treat your candidates, employees, and alumni well and encourage them to talk about their experiences.

If you think that these trends are only applicable to students, think again. Ten years ago, we thought that the newspapers would still remain the dominant media and the Internet would be a niche player in online recruiting.

Today, the Internet is poised to overtake newspapers in the job-classifieds market in the next five years. We already do what we thought only IT people would do. Soon, I predict that we will all be doing the things that this new Web generation does.

Dave Lefkow is currently the CEO of talentspark (www.talentsparkconsulting.com), a consulting firm that helps companies use technology to gain a competitive advantage for talent, and a regular contributor to ERE on human capital, technology, and branding related subjects. He is also an international speaker on human capital trends and best practices, having spoken in countries as close as Canada and as far away as Malaysia and Australia. His consulting work has spanned a wide variety of industries and recruiting challenges with companies like Starbucks, Boeing, HP, Microsoft, Expedia, Washington Mutual, Nike and Swedish Medical Center.

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11 Comments on “My Blog Is My Resume

  1. Dave your article reminded me of why I find your intellect so attractive. You are deep and accurate.

    Right – my last two positions….primarily the Linkedin profile…with endorsements it conveys more than a traditional resume..

    Online all the time – yes, they are

    This means …we have to develop the new techniques to find the talent where it lies.

    Catch the fish where the fish are.

    If they go shallow you learn to fish near the bank, if they go deep then pull out the deep diving lure.

    = learn as many technologies and techniques as you can…eventually you will need them.

    All part of the strategy, change, evolution and intrigue that make sourcing attractive to me.

    If these words strategy, change, evolution and sourcing stimulate you….I would like to hear from you, because you are a champion.

    Best regards,

    Russ

  2. I think that the main thrust of the article is accurate; we as individuals and especially those of us in the employment business have to embrace new methods and new technologies as means to our ends. But, I think that the author is making too much of a generalization to characterize this generation the way he does.
    I myself am 27, on the apron strings of Generation X. But, I want you to notice my colloquialism: ‘apron strings.’ the author’s generalization of my generation is such that, based on his writing, you would never expect a GenXer to use the term ‘apron strings.’ Why, that’s old-fashioned!
    As a member of the generation under discussion, I would interject that my generation is more individual than any previous generation in the U.S. Because of the isolation our use of technology has brought us, we have grown up with more of an individualistic mindset. That is what makes us love our blogs, our Myspace communities, and such, but I think it also makes us crave personal contact and a nostalgia for what has come before. Why else have we resurrected the fashions of the 1970’s?
    Are these new tools to recruit? Yes. Are these characteristics of our generation? Yes. Do they define our generation? No.
    I am not interested in buying a car right now. But, there has been this car salesman I visited months ago that has been calling me about every three weeks for the past 4 months or so. When the time comes to buy another car, I will: Research on the Internet. Talk to my friends, by blog or email, text or direct connect. But, if that salesman calls again while I am looking, I WILL talk to him, probably visit his dealership, and, if he has a good deal for me, buy a car from him.
    I don’t think anything will ever fully replace the role of the recruiter on the telephone. Other means can complement that, but nothing will replace that personal contact.
    So don’t think that everything has to change for Gen X, or for Gen Y. People are still people, who still have needs, and who still like personal contact. That is our very nature.

    Darren Smith
    Search Consultant
    Baton Rouge, LA

  3. I myself is one of the grand generation X, has a son who is 21 and we discussed the wonderful world of the internet in regards to privacy and employment.

    Also had another interesting discussion with my husband an individual who barely makes it as a baby boomer, but has that ideology and mindset.

    Here are some interesting things I learnt from the Horses mouth

    Is there a concern for Privacy – Yes indeed, many of these individuals did Not think (gee teenagers/young not really having a full blown adult concept) that their PERSONAL information would be used against them in regards to employment.

    These young adults do respect the aspect of privacy, they respect that their privacy should also be respected. They are Not stupid, maybe we don’t give them enough credit, because they too realize that their PERSONAL information should not be considered as hiring criteria. That what they do in private should be left there, in private.

    My son recently made his blog private on my space, so that only his friends can see it.

    Now here is another issue that I see with all this — utiizing the internet as a predominate source for hire. Now gee why would anyone want to do that? Considering that at any given time less than 20 Percent of the population use the internet for employment. Or that when one takes in the demographics of the internet (The percentage of ?truly disconnected? has remained stable in the lastthree years) then it also opens the door for Disparate Impact

    As per the Pew Center Two-thirds of American adults go online and one-third do not. Guess what, we are still looking at a predominately Young, White, Educated, Affluent Population.

    Can that possibly pose a problem? Well of course.. That is why it is called Disparate Impact.

    Now, In speaking to my husband, I asked if a recruiter sent you a great job description out of the blue, versus Called you to introduced themselves, and then asked you to consider the position which would you prefer?

    My son and my Husband actually both agreed that indeed if they are not looking but someone took the time to introduce themselves, reach out and to give them the warm fuzzies, they would be more inclined to listen rather than click to the delete mail, or send to spam folder.

    Darren, you made a great point, and one thing we seem to forget is the sensitive nature of our job as recruiters, and how what we do affect peoples lives, their families lives and the identies of the individuals around them. We are dealing with the of the most important aspects of themselves, what they identify themselve with — their career.

    We spend Decades priming ourselves to be what we are when we grow up.

    In reality, do you think an e-mail is really the approach to get someone to consider talking to you to make that change, take that leap in something as important as their career?

    Both Young, Medium and Older do feel that way.. Funny how that is.. Emotions, they still play a part in life, no matter how electronic our world has become.

  4. I agree with your ideas on where things are going.

    I actually maintain several different blogs and post to a variety of forums. When considering an offer, I am usually as demanding of the company knowing a bit about me from commenting on my ideas and seeing how both my logic and creativity work.

    For the past year or so, the net has become a place where more can be found about most individuals (both as candidate and employee) than the common company has. At least in my area of expertise, it is fairly easy to find out personal facts that I’ll be relaying to if I take a position with company X.

    Resumes fail to show passion or adaptability in two pages. They also fail to show how a candidate may perceive dozens of different complex topics. To say I have ten years in project management would be fairly simple, but to point a potential employer to some of my writing over the past few years would be ten times more enlightening for both of us. Hopefully if they are truly interested – they will strike up a commentary with me and discuss my thoughts and talent regarding subjects that I find interesting.

    The overall effect is that if I have the ability to voice my desire and train of thought through blogging, that any employer worth my time will be able to realize the type of projects and communication I am looking for. If they are not willing to invest the personal time to understand me before hiring, then from a business perspective I become doubtful they are willing to understand me as an individual once I’m working there.

  5. The bloggers are coming! The bloggers are coming!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist – actually, they’re already here. We’ve hired two people fresh out of college in the past 4 months that we found through their blogs – one didn’t even have a formal resume. Frankly, he didn’t need one. A blog trumps a resume every single time.

    Think about it – a resume is 1 or 2 pages, of flat, static information. A blog is an interactive space where you can really see inside of a prospect’s head – their ability to innovate, think, & communicate. You not only find out what they’ve done for work, but what their passions are, and frankly if they’re the type of person you think would fit into your organization.

    Our stance is that blogging is important – at least in our medium – and we are developing a strategy around it. We are conducting a search for a Marketing Director right now – if an applicant doesn’t blog, or at least contribute heavily, it’s fair to say that we are going to pass them by.

  6. this is a fascinating topic……

    I have discussed with candidates for years……..the importance of a resume…………. a blog is a very powerful marketing tool….the individual is more than just a job applicant….he/she is a brand……….

    however….that being said……there are certainly some issues that will be negative:

    1. discrimination
    2. Privacy………..

    The reality is in this ultra competitive job market where more and more companies are targeting their cheaper employees in Asia……the blog has become a necessity for that talented employee to stand out in the crowd……

    We live in a incredible time………

  7. I wanted to follow up with this post — recently had read by one of the noted bloggers that many individuals adopt personalities in blogs..

    Anyways I went back to the experts on this topic — my son and his peers at a baseball game. I told them about this ‘wonderous’ approach and also what this great blogger said about creating a persona online that really wasn’t there, and that companies actually believe that what they see is what they get.

    Anyways the group got into a pretty interesting conversation – ages 19-50 was the age range of the employees that were on the team.

    One guy flat out stated that he had 2 blogs – one was private and all him, only his friends can find this blog, by invite only and of course there is the public one.. The one he uses for the professional image.. He said that this blog only reflected who he was in all honesty about 15 percent. He put out there what he wanted people to believe.

    Anyways it got me to thinking about Linked In, about how many people have Created really incredible profiles and many were not accurate and untrue.

    How many individuals had shown degrees, and the degrees were actually degrees from Universities who gave them a B.S for Life and Personal Experience – of course when you check the schools that school is not Accredited by the Board of Education.. hmm..

    I have seen people say they work or had worked for companies that are not accurate..
    I think about how people lie on resumes and think how the blog is a way for a person to be able to brag and sometimes to the extreme.

    Blog’s in recruiting to me hold too much hazards to be a consideration.. but then this is a personal opinion..

    Karen

  8. Your blog can be used as one tool for showing your abilities if you are in a field like writing etc. Else any blog it can be at max only a social resume or some reference check not a resume for job hunt.
    For getting a job one still requires a great and effective resume made for getting a job.

  9. Blogs can be great exposure for virtually anyone, yet certain careers are more blog inclined than others.

    For most traditional jobs (engineer, accountant, attorney, etc.) there is no substitute for a traditional resume.

    Our organization recommends people get a “real” resume to augment their blog or website.

    Our non-profit organization uses a great service that also sets people up with their own blog for promotion. This is not advertised on their website, yet this is a service they do for us and I think they do it for anyone asking for it. We thought this was very original, as none of the resume services we had contracted with in the past have offered any blog assistance.

    For info on getting a traditional resume and your own custom blog, go to Career Path Resume

    Please mention that you heard about them from the Community For Advancing Urban Minorities (CFUM).

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