Is the Traditional Resume Obsolete?

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: April 2, 2012

Parting with Tradition

For most of us, working on a resume is pretty uninspiring stuff. Fire up Microsoft Word, search for synonyms for “experience,” fiddle with the spacing until everything is lined up just so. Should the font be Arial or Times New Roman? 12-point or 11-point?

But because we live in the digital age, there are a few brave souls among us who are turning the tedious traditional resume into something a little more creative and compelling. Personal branding websites, video resumes and social networking profiles are becoming increasingly valid ways for job seekers to distinguish their applications from the standard piles of ivory resume paper.

When you absolutely have to stand out for a job, many people believe resumes that blend in with the rest of the pack have rendered traditional paper resumes obsolete.

Get LinkedIn

If you've been ignoring LinkedIn, now is the time to log in and polish your profile. 

A recent survey by technology recruiting company Talent Technology found that 61 percent of respondents use the professional networking site to find potential employees. And more than one-third of employers think it likely that social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn will one day replace the traditional resume altogether, according to a survey by OfficeTeam, a division of recruiting firm Robert Half.

The companies that have used LinkedIn for recruiting include AOL, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Ernst and Young and Fidelity. The keys to using social networks effectively are maintain a professional image (no spring break photos!) and updating your information regularly.

Start Your Own Website

When Christine Hall was on the verge of graduating from Duke University in 2011, she wanted to find a job in marketing. So she marketed herself at hirechristine.com, an interactive website that simultaneously showed off her design skills and her résumé.

Featuring an engaging concept and plenty of personality, the site worked: The home page now reports that Hall has been hired by Google. Although solid qualifications and experience count most, a little creativity and personal branding goes a long way.

Picture It

Student Alice Lee is trying something a little more targeted, attempting to convince photo-sharing app company Instagram to hire her.

On her simple but eye-catching one-page site, Lee showcases her experience, displays work samples and explains what she could offer the company as an employee. 

Endeavors such as these are ideally suited for those in the creative or tech fields, because the site doubles as a resume and as a work sample.


Lights, Cameras, Video!

The video resume is a tricky creature. It can go right, or it can go very, very wrong. Consider the case of Alexsey Vayner, whose video resume, featuring inspirational quotes and shots of him displaying his athletic prowess, became the subject of widespread ridicule a few years ago.

Indeed, the jury is still out on video resumes. Many human resources professionals are still skeptical of their value or concerned that viewing videos -- and thus seeing what candidates look like -- could leave them open to discrimination lawsuits. 

Out With the Old, In With the New

But with the rise of social networking and online video, such resumes are certain to grow in popularity. And they can definitely be done well. The best video resumes feature more than just a candidate reading off his qualifications, they take advantage of the opportunity to show off an applicant’s personality. 

As the ability to produce high quality videos becomes commonplace with technological advancements, it's entirely possible the traditional resume could be going the way of the typewriter and the rotary phone.

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