The Cloud Will Kill The Resume, And That’s a Good Thing

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Editor’s note: Chris Rickborn is the COO and co-founder of Unrabble, a hiring software solution for small- to medium-sized businesses, especially startups. You can follow Unrabble at @unrabble.

I was recently going through an old banker’s box that I packed up years ago while I was cleaning out my office. There was a Palm Pilot, a mini cassette recorder, and even a stack of floppy disks. It was like a time capsule of obsolete technology. All I needed were a few Polaroid pictures and a beeper to make my time travel complete. In one of the file folders, I found about a dozen resumes that I had wanted to keep and in another there was a bunch of printed product brochures from various vendors.

Every gadget I found in that box had evolved or been replaced by some new innovation. Even the non-gadgets like printed product brochures have been replaced by websites that can present information in much richer context. Only the folder of resumes stood out as the unchanged medium.

It baffles me how the lifecycle of so many products and business processes can be extremely short and are so easily disrupted by innovation, yet an individual’s resume is still a one or two page document.  It’s still typed out in the same format it was 30 years ago and then printed, emailed or uploaded.

Maybe the answer is that the change is actually underway but we just don’t realize it’s happening. The reality is that the cloud is killing the resume and, for the most part, it’s going unnoticed.  As more and more of us place our trust in cloud-based services to manage our lives or interact via social media, that information will ultimately be cultivated and harnessed to replace your resume.

There’s no doubt that prospective employers compare the information on your current resume to all the other facts about you floating in the cloud, just as it’s inevitable that your resume will ultimately be replaced by an online profile.  Sites like LinkedIn, BeKnown and BranchOut are already way down that path of on-line profiles that connect you to job opportunities without requiring a paper resume to start, while sites like About.me seem to be going for the cover letter. Meanwhile, Vizualize.me and Re.vu offer infographic-style representations of your career biography.

Shifting from a traditional resume to an on-line profile presents a huge opportunity for improving the hiring process for both the candidate and employer. Candidates can provide a much more comprehensive view of their skills, potential and accomplishments while employers can avoid getting swayed by clever resume writing or overlook qualified candidates in a haze of sameness. Profiles represent a massive gain in connecting the right candidates to employers in ways that could have never happened with a traditional resume.

The resume of the future should enable candidates to tell their story without the limitations of a plain text document. Profiles will be an interactive experience with rich content that should adapt and dynamically direct viewers to relevant skills, strengths and accomplishments based on the viewers needs.  Candidates should be able to control access to their information and analyze how visitors interact with their profile the same way traffic is analyzed on a website. The resume of the future should also be a connection point between company and candidate that will greatly reduce the manual burden of pre-screening.  Interactive profiles should facilitate communication and collaboration between hiring manager, candidate and other stakeholders so that hiring decisions can be made quickly and effectively.

But before you throw resumes into the shredder, there are big challenges to overcome such as privacy and basic behavioral change.  I was recently helping a friend review job applicants through LinkedIn and noticed that almost every applicant still attached a resume.  If you have a profile on LinkedIn, why would you attach a resume?  In many cases, the information in the resume was much more in-depth than what was on the candidate’s profile.

I think this indicates a few realities.  First, candidates still want to customize their resume for each job opportunity. Second, candidates are reluctant to put all of their career details in a public profile where they might lose control of the information. And third, most employers still require a resume. Otherwise, their legacy hiring process just breaks down.

According to USA Today, nearly 35 percent of resumes contain blatant lies about education, experience or the skills to perform a specific job. That’s why online profiles are better. It’s much harder for candidates to stretch the truth in an on-line profile because they risk getting caught whereas a resume is only between candidate and employer.

Being more open and honest in an on-line profile that is shared privately with a prospective employer is certainly the way forward. But there are more reasons why the cloud offers greater advantages over a traditional paper resume, such as:

1) Facilitates better collaboration.  Instead of scribbling notes on a paper resume, and asking colleagues to review a stack of resumes, the cloud offers colleagues the opportunity to discretely rate and review candidates on-line after they’ve submitted an on-line application for a job opening. The ratings and reviews gathered through on-line collaboration can give employers a much better consensus of how strong or weak each candidate is.

2) Follows you, wherever you go.  A stack of paper resumes sitting on your office desk with notes scribbled on them to indicate the best candidates isn’t going to help much when you’re on the road traveling or working from home. With the cloud, wherever you have an Internet connection, you have instant access to a “central repository” of on-line job applications, as well as the notes you’ve added into an on-line comments field.

3) Greater cost efficiencies.  The cost and time-saving benefits of a cloud computing solution far outweighs the current hiring process that has one hand tied behind its back because of the paper resume. Taking the hiring process to the cloud and allowing candidates to apply for jobs with on-line profiles can transform the speed and efficiency of the hiring process. The profiles can be reviewed, shared and rated with far greater ease, thereby dramatically decreasing the amount of time it takes to hire qualified candidates.

These are just a few of the reasons why the cloud will kill the traditional resume. There’s no doubt that killing the text-based resume will generate a huge opportunity for improving the hiring process for both the candidate and employer.  But just like everything else in that dusty old banker’s box, the resume served us well in its heyday. And now it’s time to move on.

[image via flickr/bpsusf]