Are Resumes Still Relevant?

Angela Pitts

LinkedIn has a great feature allowing its members to ask questions of other members as well as answer questions.  Besides the obvious benefits of social networking, this is one of my favorite features!  I have always been surprised by the amount of information that has been returned when I have asked a question or when I have been involved in discussion of someone else’s question.  People are so willing to share not only their knowledge, thoughts and ideas.  If you haven’t played with the question/answer feature of LinkedIn, I would recommend giving it a whirl!

As I was cruising through the questions one evening I came across one that at first glance thought it was kind of a silly question.  Someone had posted “Are Resumes Still Relevant”?  Of course they are, aren’t they?  I have spent the last ten years doing nothing but working with resumes!  How else would we see information about candidates that apply for our jobs?  I didn’t stop to look at the answers and continued to look at other questions/answers.  I came back to the question and started reading some of the answers and the various author’s theories behind them.  The question has since been closed, so I can’t share the link, but the responses where varied.  I would say it was pretty well split down the middle.

During my last few months of my work as a corporate recruiter, I actually become more of a corporate counselor for those who had found themselves in the unfortunate circumstance of a lay off.  I went from reading resumes on a daily basis to helping write resumes and helping former co-workers search for a new job.  I wrote resumes for past employees ranging from entry level to upper level management.  All of the information was theirs, but many of the words and phrasings were mine.  This is not uncommon; most professionals have hired a professional resume writer to craft their resume hoping to increase the odds of it being noticed in the sea of resumes that are out there.  If people are actually having someone else help or even write all of their resume, how valuable is it to the person reading it?  I feel that it still gives a good general idea of what the person had accomplished and positions held, but shouldn’t be the end all when deciding who to hire or even to interview.

Resumes should be carefully validated: Many people do not write their own resume; during the interview process information should be validated with well developed behavior based questions.  By asking this type of question the interviewer steers clear of any potential discriminatory questions while digging deep on past examples of experience or accomplishments that should reveal future behaviors.

Don’t rely on one source: Although I think a resume is still a good tool to screen candidates, don’t forget the importance of references!  It can be difficult to obtain a reference but make sure you try!  If someone listed several accomplishments on their resume, validate it with the supervisor.  I once received a phenomenal resume of someone who previously worked in staffing; it looked almost too good to be true; it was!

Social Media: Much controversy is out there about using social media to check out a potential employee.  I don’t think that FaceBook or MySpace should be used when making a decision (although it might not hurt to take a peek!) but I feel professional sites like LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Spoke, ect should be reviewed for information that may be helpful in making a decision to bring someone in.  Each company has its own policy regarding these sites, so make sure you check with yours first!

Application: Your applications should be the information gather.  All of the info that you want (legal of course!) should be on your application.  Resumes don’t always give the full story, such as reason for leaving a past position, salary requirements or even past criminal history!  From time to time it’s good to review your application and update it.  If your application is old enough that it asks for pager number and not a cell number, it needs to be updated!

Overall I feel that resumes are still relevant, although I don’t feel they carry the weight they once did.  A resume should be viewed as a tool in gathering information about a candidate, but not making the ultimate selection.  After all, one candidate may have access to a resume writer and one doesn’t, just because the resume is well formatted and uses action verbs to start each phrase doesn’t mean the candidate matches up!

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