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Multimedia and the 21st Century Resume


We’ve made a mistake. Recruiters needed a more efficient way to process resumes, so we automated the process. But in doing so, we cut out the subjective assessment of a candidate’s quality and cultural fit, and replaced it with a scan of keywords on a page. In short, we took the human element out of a critical step in the hiring process.

As a result, legitimately qualified applicants are often overlooked if their resumes lack the right keywords. And applicants who loaded their resume with relevant keywords might land an interview but prove to be a bad fit. These mismatches cost a company time and money. The solution, according to Laurie Barkman of The Resumator, is to break away from over-automation and get back to the heart of what makes a good hire. Barkman explains:

"We’ve been told for a long time, ‘This is how you do recruiting, and here’s what matters,’ but organizations are now more interested in interactions that help to determine a good fit. And more nimble organizations are looking at people beyond the resume."

In the meantime, some job seekers are attempting to circumvent the keyword-laden resume game entirely with more creative approaches to captivating recruiters and proving qualifications and fit. In this article, I highlight some of the techniques that are replacing the traditional resume strategies. And as a glimpse of things to come, I also look at what one college is doing to help its graduates position themselves as competitors in the job market.

Four New Alternatives to Traditional Resumes

The resume won’t disappear completely anytime soon, and there are certain guidelines that you should always follow, regardless of mode of delivery. Resumes and the mulitmedia techniques described below are all marketing tools, and as such contain marketing messages about you. As Barkman states, “The question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Can multimedia enhance that message?’”

If the answer is yes, there are four channels a candidate can tap into to accomplish this.

1. Video: Giving a Face and Voice to the Applicant

As Bruce Hurwitz of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing says, “Video can increase my confidence in a candidate's ability to successfully interview–Is she professional? Is she articulate?–or eliminate a candidate from consideration.” 

The website Purzue makes it easy for job seekers to create a profile based off of their resume, accompanied by a quick video pitch in place of a cover letter. The recruiting platform and job board GetHired goes further, with real-time interviewing capabilities and virtual screening through recorded responses.

Of course, time is money, and candidates need to give recruiters a reason to keep watching. My advice: personality is great, but don’t get too cute. Balance is key.

2. Infographics: Bringing Flat Resumes to Life

Breaking out of the traditional resume template isn’t easy without a degree in design. But presenting a recruiter with a more visually stimulating overview of experience and qualifications can go a long way in setting a candidate apart. Thankfully, it doesn’t take an Adobe Illustrator savant to turn a boring old resume into an interesting infographic. 

Vendors like pull information from your social media profiles (LinkedIn, in this case), and lay it out in various (and customizable) formats. Not only are these easy to create, but they’re easy to share across multiple channels.

3. Social Media Profiles: Providing Insights into Culture Fit

Most job seekers–okay, at least those under 50–have some kind of social media presence. It’s no secret that recruiters investigate some candidates’ social media profiles to obtain a more rounded picture of the individual (and yes, also to check for questionable content). Job seekers are responding to this shift in recruiting pracitces by beefing up their networks (which gives a nice halo effect), expanding their professional profiles and adding recommendations on LinkedIn, driving conversations and connecting with thought leaders on Twitter, and cleaning up their Facebook profiles.

4. Blogs and Personal Sites: Showing Off

Blogs are an excellent platform for candidates to showcase their hobbies, writing and communication skills, and general interests. Think they’re just for marketing candidates? Think again. Even a meat cutter at Whole Foods can run a successful butcher blog to establish expertise and share experience with an avid audience. And who said blogs are just for writing? Techies can demonstrate their ability to build WordPress templates, too, or simply prove they know how to find and add plug-ins to build websites. And candidates for artistic positions can showcase their portfolio of work.

Is the Media Resume the Future?

The basic function of a resume isn’t going anywhere. What’s changing is how that function is executed. “We're not leaving behind the resume,” says Steven Savage, a technical project manager and a writer and speaker on geeky jobs, “but we're using it as a trigger point for more.” To that end, many college campuses are taking it upon themselves to give the next wave of workers a competitive advantage in the job market of tomorrow.

At Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications, Dean Diane Gayeski spearheaded an initiative to prepare to enter a workforce with limited work experience, and where social media engagement and a strong portfolio are a graduate’s strongest ally. All freshman communications majors are required to take a six-week course in which they learn how to create and market an online repository of their work via an ePortfolio, learn best practices for using social media tools, and connect with alumni–both fresh out of school and already established in their careers. They’re seeing success.

“When you’re starting off in college, you’re dealing with buzzwords like branding and image. It can be intimidating,” says Aaron Edwards, a senior journalism major and future James Reston Reporting Fellow for The New York Times. For Edwards, however, the ePortfolio started in freshman year became a repository of his best work that was easily leveraged when he began applying for jobs and internships. Says Edwards:

“I now have a personal website, which is a little more permanent. It was great to have the portfolio as a stepping stone to something I’ll use for the rest of my life.”

What successes have you had in using media to find work or place a candidate? What challenges do you think employers are faced with when reviewing a new form of application? Will media continue to impact the job market, or will it simply be swallowed up as one more way to stand out from the crowd?

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Kyle Lagunas

About the Author

Kyle joined the Software Advice team in 2011. On the surface, it's his job to contribute to the ongoing conversation on all things HR. Beyond that, he ensures his audience is keeping up with important trends and hot topics in the industry.

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