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It’s Time to Rethink the Résumé

by Emmanuel Quartey

photo credit: scottkellum via photopin cc

Real talk. I think it’s time to rethink the role that the one-page résumé plays in the recruiting/job search process. Here is the problem: after many hours spent trying to distill a lifetime of experiences, passions and accomplishments into a single 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper, I feel like this document barely begins to adequately represent my interests or by abilities.

IN DEFENSE OF THE RÉSUMÉ

Before I lay out my critique, I should mention that I think that the act of composing a résumé can actually be a pretty instructive exercise.

Every update to my résumé is an opportunity to reflect on my life, evaluate the activities I’ve been involved in, and articulate what I learned from those experiences. It’s a process of curation, and my decisions about what to leave out say as much about me as what I choose to include.

It’s not the idea of the resumé that I have trouble with - it’s the idea that it should consist of only a single sheet of paper.   

I AM MY TASTE GRAPH

Everyone understands that résumés don’t tell the entire story about a person. At best, they’re an introduction, after which cover letters, interviews and other tests help round out the story. The problem is that while I’m pretty happy with how my paper résumé looks right now, I still think that it barely begins to articulate my passions.

The “taste graph” is one of the ideas that came with the emergence of the social web. PandoDaily editor Sarah Lacy defines it as “The amalgamation of not only who you know, who you’ve worked with or who you may be related to, but what you like. The sum total of your aesthetic…” As someone who has a pretty active online presence, every blog post or tweet says something about me - a “taste graph” of my passions and interests. I wish there were a way for all that to count towards my résumé.

Take my Twitter. That’s where I go to share articles that resonate with me, and to pose questions to people I admire. Similarly, my Pinterest and my answers on Quora say a lot about the things I’m into.

photo credit: Graela via photopin cc

The reality is that recruiters often have the unenviable task of going through anywhere from hundreds to thousands of applications. They can’t reasonably be expected to go through the bazillion social media profiles of every applicant. But it is equally true that people’s taste graphs say an incredible amount, and it’s a shame that in many cases, all that metadata is completely absent from the evaluation process.

A PROPOSAL

Some companies have started asking applicants to include a link to their blog as part of the application requirements, but again, this approach is unsustainable. It would be cool if there were an easy, scaleable way to get a better sense of applicants’ interests through their social media activities. Let’s call this hypothetical service Resume.ly.

The way it would work is that as part of the application process, applicants could include links to their social media profiles. Resume.ly scrapes the profiles and creates a portrait of the applicants’ interests based on keywords and actions.

Resume.ly is imperfect (arguably, it unfairly favors people with a strong social media presence), but this is me thinking through a way to account for the fact that in aggregate, my digital life gives a pretty good idea about my interests, and I think those aspects of myself should somehow be reflected in my applications.

BABY STEPS

Until something like Resume.ly happens, this is what I’m doing to humanize my one page résumé.

At the very bottom, I’ve added two unconventional sections: People I admire and Favorite websites. Hopefully, this goes some way to make this a more human document that gives a better sense of the ideas I surround myself with.

Notes:

1) The next iteration of this will include my twitter handle. Maybe that piques someone’s interest enough to get a sense of my taste graph.

2) Skills comes close to the Resume.ly concept (it scrapes professional networks like Github and Stack Overflow), but it’s focused on technical jobs.

3) Some companies are doing away with one page résumés all together.

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More posts by Emmanuel.

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