Will Resumes Become Obsolete?

Did I grab your attention? Well, I personally believe that resumes will remain part of job applications and interviews for a while. But I’d like to explore how the expansion of everyone’s online presence may affect the set of documents and information that accompanies a job application. I’ll look at this mainly from the technical sourcing angle, but not just.

(When I was choosing the title for the article I thought of some recent titles like “Is Internet Sourcing Dead?” or “Will Boolean Be Replaced by Another Language?” or “Why is Twitter So Yesterday?” It’s useful to step back once in a while and question things that seem obvious, isn’t it? Our reality is changing so fast!)

OK, let’s look at the technical side of things. Ten years ago, when I was a hiring manager, I developed a habit of Googling candidates. Though I do not have any current statistics, we all know for a fact that many recruiters and hiring authorities do that. Many will also look the person up on LinkedIn at a minimum.

Let’s imagine now that you can automate getting a person’s list of profiles.

Last week I spoke with my good friend Chandra Bodapati of eGrabber. Chandra pointed out to me that with his product ResumeFinder you can get a list of online profiles at a click of a button. You can then put the links into an email or a document and send them off. He proceeded to send me an email with a couple dozen links to my online profiles and mentions. It took him a split second to do that. You can look at the result on my blog.

There are, of course, other online products and utilities that can do similar things, and they are all better and faster than “just” Googling. There are companies that create complex sourcing solutions like Broadlook; companies that help automate web sourcing for those of us who do not care about Boolean syntax like Autosearch; sites like www.socialmention.com that help collect this info; and ATS’s that have this functionality integrated. (Note to the readers: I do not have the goal of suggesting a comprehensive list here. I plan to write an overview of sourcing tools elsewhere, and I also do webinars covering people search tools.)

Chandra said to me: since this information is so readily available, shouldn’t it become a new standard of submitting candidates to a hiring manager and/or to HR? We typically send a resume, a short paragraph, a standard questionnaire, and, for some openings, a technical test to our clients. Would it be beneficial to always send a list of profiles along with that?

If I were a hiring manager, I would, of course, review the resume first and foremost. I am looking for professional skills and experience. I want the person to perform well. How would (or should) her kids’ pictures on Facebook affect this? But look: first of all, the person’s profiles are out there on the web and I could glance over them whether this is submitted to me or not. I’d most likely skip Facebook, or will only spend seconds on it if I get a link. But I may look on LinkedIn and blogs; well, maybe on Twitter, too. By spending a few minutes on LinkedIn, I may get additional information about the person’s skills and experience; I also may get a sense of who the person is. We are looking for a live member of our team; this always involves some chemistry, so the person’s style of presenting himself matters. If I have dozens or even hundreds of applications for a position (we do these days) and am trying to choose those people with whom I’d like to start interviews, this quick glance may help me select candidates. Or, if at the end of interviews I am checking the references, I may pull out information from profiles for a more complete picture.

Is this fair to candidates? Is this ethical? Is this all legal even, given that we want to avoid discrimination and would never ask certain questions at an interview? These are all good questions, and it would be great to hear from experienced recruiters, hiring managers, and specialists. I am very interested in comments from the ERE community members.

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To make it fair to candidates I as a recruiter can give my candidates a heads-up, so that they could clean up their LinkedIn profile if they choose to do so. I may skip personal sites in my submissions. Or I could have the candidate suggest links that can be added to her submission. There may also be links to information that are specific to a job opening. As an example, many software engineers would be open to including pointers to their code posted online, and hiring managers love that.

If we are looking for standards in a candidate’s submission, then profile information has its pluses compared to documents like resumes. Profiles are easier to parse and to search. Even the greatest resume parsing tools can’t possibly extract the information right in 100% of the cases. Candidates are required to fill profiles at job boards exactly for the reason of facilitating search and browsing.

My personal preference would be to have a professional chronological resume as “the” document (no colors; no pictures, please; substantial content in the “experience” section) and complement this with links to a number of profiles, if my client says that they would be interested in that. But looking into the future, could it happen that a submission of a candidate will not have a resume but will be done with a set of online professional profile links accompanied by a job-specific questionnaire?

So, will resumes become obsolete in their current form? What do you think?

Irina Shamaeva is a Partner and the Chief Sourcer at Brain Gain Recruiting, an executive search firm that specializes in placing senior software development and management consulting candidates nationwide. In addition to full cycle recruiting, Irina does Sourcing projects across numerous industries and geographies. She shares techniques that she invents, while hands-on sourcing, in blogs and in presentations. Irina maintains an active blog, Boolean Strings, where she publishes sourcing advice, tips, and best practices, that has enjoyed 175K+ visits to-date. Prior to Brain Gain Recruiting, Irina held engineering and management leadership positions at biotech and high technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Applied Biosystems, MDL, and e-Motion. Irina holds a Master of Science Degree in Mathematics from Moscow University. To learn more about Irina, check out her LinkedIn Profile , follow her on Twitter, and circle her on Google-Plus.


22 Comments on “Will Resumes Become Obsolete?

  1. OptimalResume.com has contributed to the evolution of the resume going back as far as 2001 when interactive “resume websites” were introduced. The company services over 600 university campuses, workforce boards, outplacement companies, etc. offering their users the ability to create these interactive resume websites. Check this out:


    The resume itself contains infobytes, or side notes entered by the user, and there is a cover letter tab, portfolio, skills summary and video resume. Being part of the company, I can say that this will be totally revised within the next 90 days, bringing it to a whole new Web 2.0 level. Interviews are now conducted online as well, and the user can respond to pre-screening questions in multimedia fashion.

  2. I think this is a great article and really made me think about the other side. My immediate reaction is no way, we as recruiters or our hiring managers should never look outside the paper resume but the truth is we do it, we just do not always admit it. So, it makes me wonder “why is googling a candidates name wrong”? We live in a tech world and people post their lives online for others to see. I think you are right, viewing a candidates information online is a way to see how they present themselves. I believe it gives you insight to those intangible soft skills you cannot always extract from a standard interview. It also makes me nervous about what I’m saying on my own Facebook page…ha! Thank for you writing an article that made me think this morning!

  3. Irina
    Great article! Have been wondering the same thing for the last few months…

    Part of my job is to search candidates by name and find their online profiles; not only to do some basic research, but to add them to our network. We don’t have a ton of openings right now, but know what will happen when the market improves (flood gates will open!).

    It’s tough to convince administrative “types” to sign up on social networking sites, but we’re making progress. This article is proof of why they need to get in the game. Not only is technology an important part of today’s workplace but if they don’t have an online presence, a candidate might be overlooked for someone who is easily found online (vs. just a paper resume).

  4. Resumes will not become obsolete…Job postings will become obsolete and companies like Monster will no longer exist…..Linked and Facebook and other tools have proven that you can contact qualified candidates…without posting a job that attracts unqualified candidates…that do not meet 90% of the job criteria….Resumes do not have to be in paper and can be in other formats such as video… ways to communicate are changing…but passive advertising is going the way of the dinosaur …EXTINCTION.

  5. Irina,

    Timely post, online profiles & personal (social media) branding are a hot topic. I recently posted about the power of your social media brand and the importance it plays in your career search:


    To Candice’s point we are searching out online profiles (even if we don’t admit it) to get a full understanding of how candidates present themselves.

    However from a candidates perspective this can provide a great opportunity (if you manage your online brand). There is only so much they can present in a resume but as a candidate leveraging their blog, linkedin, facebook etc. to showcase their talents can provide them a tremendous boost in their career search.

    At http://www.TheCorporatePlaybook.com we fully embrace this concept. Our community of current & alumni student athletes are able to build their personal athlete profile which includes video resume, detailed bios, outbound links etc. and is publicly searchable. We feel the ability to provide more than a basic resume is a tremendous value to both candidates & recruiters.

    Thanks for the post & I look forward to this topic.


    Chad Pinkston

  6. I recently wrote an article that describes a potential future for the resume – a Cloud Resume.

    Imagine that in the future your resume is not about where you’ve worked, but rather what you’ve produced. So, for example, your Twitter tweets, blog comments, forum discussions, YouTube videos, Flickr images, Facebook status updates, LinkedIn recommendations, Amazon book reviews, and any other content you choose are all aggregated. But here’s the key: This brave new resume doesn’t include everything you generate, just the specific granular items you choose to be included. Each time you leave a digital impression you decide whether or not you want to tag it for inclusion in your cloud resume.

    This ability to specifically tag content for inclusion means that a company can learn more about a candidate with less exposure to the sticky legal issues that can accompany “raw” internet searching.

    You can find the full article here – http://cloudrecruiting.net/a-brave-new-resume/

    Scott Hajer

  7. For selection purposes, resumes became obsolete quite some time ago.

    Resumes are a sales document, crafted to “get the interview”. Numerous studies have shown that roughly half of all resumes materially misstate facts (e.g. education, experience, dates …) and roughly 95% embellish and/or omit important details to gain favor. Professional resume writers know how the game works and “position” their clients’ resumes, accordingly. Automated resume screening and 15-second reviews by recruiters cannot add value to a stack of variously deceptive documents. Yet most employers rely on this woefully invalid “selection procedure” as the front end of their hiring process.

    Bottom line: the content and processing of resumes frequently causes hiring managers to interview the wrong candidates.

    Then, on to the interview — hardly a valid selection procedure, as widely practiced, today. Most interviews lack the proper structure and painfully few hiring managers requisite interviewing skills. Moreover, following multiple interviews, few employers invoke a validated process for combining inputs to make hiring decisions

    Bottom line: employers who rely predominantly on resume reads and personal interviews tend to interview the wrong people, poorly, and then hire one of them based on ad hoc conclusions.

    At the front end of the hiring process, resumes fail to deal with the large percentage of jobseekers who lack integrity, reliability and/or work ethic, as well as those who exhibit permissive attitudes toward substance abuse. Why even allow one of these people to become “applicants”?

    The U. S. Department of Labor’s “Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures” has been around since 1978. This document tells employers how to avoid allegations of discrimination in the presence of adverse impact – i.e. use valid, job-related selection procedures. Employers who follow the DoL Guidelines perform a job analysis to document “what it takes” to perform capably in the position of interest and then use valid assessment tools to determine the extent to which applicants have what it takes.

    In “Selection Assessment Methods – A guide to implementing formal assessments to build a high-quality workforce” (SHRM Foundation publication), Dr. Elaine D. Pulakos wrote: “It is important to point out that the procedures outlined in the Uniform Guidelines are, in fact, the same procedures that an assessment expert would employ if the only goal was to hire the best qualified candidates for a job.”

    In 1980, an authoritative study published in the Harvard Business Review concluded that “the job-matching approach is far superior to the standard tack of hiring according to experience or education”. Those conclusions were based on large-sample job performance and turnover data within both high- and low-turnover industries. Moreover, the Guidelines require job matching – i.e. analyze the job and match candidates to it using valid, job-related measurements.

    As the front-end of the hiring process, resumes have been on life support for decades.

    Employers would do well to put pre-employment screening at the front end of their hiring process, followed by direct assessment (via online questionnaire) of basic qualifications derived from job analyses. Only with favorable results at both of these two initial stages should a jobseeker be invited to complete an application (become and applicant), as the next step in the process. Part of that application might well include one of several increasingly popular standard-format “profiles”, in lieu of resume.

    All qualified applicants complete fully validated, job-matching assessments. The assessment instruments used should measure the total person, including cognitive, behavioral and occupational interest dimensions and should directly indicate the degrees of match with the position for which the individual seeks consideration. The assessment should also provide structured interview questions to probe areas of potential mismatch between the applicant and the position.

    Naturally, structured interviews, simulations, reference checking, various background checks, drug tests and other assessments can make important additional contributions to the selection process, as long as the emphasis remains on job-related validity.

    Recruiters, hiring managers, HR Professionals and business leaders should all take a fresh look at their employee selection procedures. To “hire the best”, you cannot start with resumes.

    We have known “better ways” for three decades. And with today’s best-in-class web-based assessment solutions, employers can manage the selection process, superbly, while earning ROIs that few business initiatives can match. Doing it right doesn’t cost, it pays! Resume RIP.

    Dick Melrose
    President and CEO, Vision21

  8. Dick – valid points but those studies go back a long way and things have changed. In 1978 and 1980 they the internet did not exist, and the likes of Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin were not even dreamed of.

    As for assessments, they can be predictors but past job performance probably weighs more heavily. What about chemistry? Energy level. Hard to get that in an assessment.

    I’ll follow the instincts of a professional recruiter any day to digest all of the applicant qualities and serve up the best and brightest.

  9. Great article!
    Great thoughts…also agree with Dick re resumes becoming (somewhat) obsolete some time ago
    My 2 cents…
    The “new & improved” functional resume will bundle the likes of critical KSA’s, chronological work experience, and social media. I’ve never been a big fan of the chronological resume because it makes for a boring interview (my personal opinion).
    In today’s age of transparency & authenticity, it’s the only wave to ride if one wants to keep up with this evolution…

  10. We just soft launched http://www.bigdoghub.com. Still working out the kinks but it is timely with this article. We have combined a discussion board into resumes and job posting. (patent pending) You can post questions directly to resumes and posting and get the benefit of reading others Q/A giving you much more information than a typical resume or posting. In effect the resume and posting have become organic and highly engaging rather than static. Great time savings as well for emplyers and members.
    In addition members and employers can ad pics, links, interests, blogs, career goals, video ect all on one page. We have embraced social media fully and are getting positive feedback from facebook users on flow and function of site. Please check it out and send me your thoughts. Thanks, John

  11. Todd,

    The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures still apply to every employee selection process, at all US employers … and that’s a good thing, as Dr. Pulakos stated.

    Job matching per the UGOESP still beats any alternative for predictive validity of job performance. Best-in-class job-matching assessment solutions compound the benefits.

    Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin and other sites may prove a boon to sourcing, but unless individuals post their valid, job-related assessment results, the available information will not likely serve the hiring process any better than resumes do, today.

    “Energy level” happens to be the first of nine behavioral scales on the total person assessment that I (and recruiters like Lou Adler) endorse, the Profile XT.

    The Internet has made it all possible – i.e. making the expertise of Industrial-Organizational Psychologists affordable and accessible 24/7/365, through scientifically designed and professionally validated online assessment solutions, delivered with the latest technology.

    Alignment with organizational culture, degree of employee engagement, relationship with boss and many other factors which may fall under the “Chemistry” umbrella can be objectively measured, too; and that’s where management begins … with measurement.

    I simply urge professional recruiters (as well as hiring managers and HR professionals and business leaders) to complement their instincts with valid, job-related assessments, as they are already obliged (if not required) to do.

    Todd, I’d be pleased to exchange emails (see below), or talk, should you want to pursue this topic, further.

    Dick Melrose
    President and CEO, Vision21

  12. My point is that the resume will not go away but rather continue to evolve into something much more, perhaps including assessment results in the efolio or even showing a video of someone on the job, giving a presentation or interacting with colleagues.

    The resume or CV is an important element in the employment process and is recognized internationally. The thought that it will become extinct and replaced with an assessment or some social media combo is a stretch anytime soon. It’s more likely that the assessment and social media links will become a part of the resume, which is already happening.

  13. Todd,

    I totally agree. Ten years ago when I first started at Recruitsoft (now Taleo); we came out with a shock value ad that the resume would become extinct. It got a lot of attention, but here we are today with tens of millions of resumes. I am now at TalentDrive.

    Irina, you raise some very visionary thoughts; however, adoption and change are often resisted within HR. Much of the innovation within talent acquisition in the last few years have been niche tools be it sourcing, assessment, name-gen, pre-screening via web… The F1000 are slow to adopt; so we are still at the early adopter phase of many of these excellent tools.

    Regarding resumes we are looking at a current spend of billions of dollars worldwide on ATS and job posting/views. This will not unwind over night. The hiring workflow and business process in most of North America and Europe is resume centric.

    Check out this link on fascinating statistics on recruiting:

  14. Thanks all for your comments so far! It’s great to see such a wide variety of views.

    I tend to agree with Robert that resumes will likely be around for a while. But additional web-based information about a candidate will be used more often in the near future, I think.

    I am curious to hear opinions of hiring managers and HR people among the readers on one point in the article. If you get a list of links to profiles along with a standard resume submission from a recruiter today, would you make use of it? Would it be helpful? Or would you question and resist this practice (and if so, why)?

  15. You’ve got some nice brain storming going Irina! No doubt a timely piece given all the current hoopla. I still prefer the traditional resume for it’s information content but being the info geek I am there is no doubt I would click on any and all additional links. I think humans are curious beings and we all want to always “know more”, check if there is anything behind the resume. The subtle cultural fit is more often than not determined during a face to face interview but with the evolution of social media, blogs, micro blogs etc. we get this great opportunity, let’s say a “peek” into the life of our candidate. I would however not let this info in it’s exclusivity rule the final hiring decision. Perhaps resumes will evolve into a “3-D Resume” telling it all?? Combing the old with the new!

  16. This is a great article and the feedback has been right on the mark. LinkedIn can already supplement a resume in theory, but with all of the issues around applicant definitions, audits, etc for government contractors, I would like to see a profile style format that gives me the information I need to determine if the candidate is a true applicant. I am hoping that LinkedIn would partner with some of the larger ATS companies (or develop an ATS compliant tool) so that a candidate can apply using the profile which would include recommendations, professional blogs they have written, etc.

    Facebook and MySpace should be avoided so that we do not make any assumptions about people. Remember, the goal is to hire based on the skills the individual brings to the organization and not what they did or didn’t do Spring Break 2009.

    Haven’t we seen enough resumes at all levels that lack a professional look and still don’t tell us enough. Down the road a site with video, presentations, recommendations, and other related information will be available to us and will partner with the ATS groups to ensure compliance.

  17. What a timely article. After working in the recruiting industry for over 4 years, I’ve learned about the key components of recruiting. I don’t think firms will stop asking candidates for a copy of their resume but I do see how a very detailed profile could be used more often by firms in the near future. Given how busy people are these days, HR managers barely have time to sift through hundreds of resumes and cover letters. When a candidate creates a personal profile on a job site like OneWire (www.OneWire.com ), the candidate is able to include much more information than he or she would ever be able to fit on a resume. A candidate can still upload a copy of his or her resume but it is not a mandatory step in the profile creation process because a candidate’s resume is not part of the actual search process. The site uses structured data and a patent pending algorithm to directly match finance professionals with opportunities at finance firms. This site could be a game changer for the recruiting industry. All of my friends who work in finance swear by OneWire.

  18. Whilst the process of recruitment remains rudimentary, resumes will remain. As we know resumes serve to list our past experiences. They are a history of our past jobs and education. The majority of those hiring, use the hiring model of matching the job title, responsibilities and industries that are listed against their job brief. That is it.

    Online profiles, serve as a repository to replicate this information into professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. Next to all of the fields correspond with a traditional resume. The difference is in how the information is presented and how we can interact with it.

    A resume listing names of employers, educational institutions makes it easy for those hiring to match and offers us a false sense of security about the person they are hiring. Not forgetting that everything in a resume is subjective.

    Imagine if all we had as recruiters when we received applications or viewed online profiles was an overview or career objective explaining the type of job the applicant was after and why. Perhaps with a list of their core skills and competencies and a few achievements listed to demonstrate these. Many recruiters would be lost. It would make the process more involved and would require a far superior skill level when it comes to recruiting, similar to that of a career coach perhaps. I cannot see this happening any time soon, and agree with you Irina that the resume will remain.

    Kelly Magowan

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