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The Resumé is Dead


I want to declare the death of the resumé as a tool for hiring. It's passé. It's old school. It's last century.

Just what is a resumé? It's a list of functions that others have allowed you to perform in the past; it's not an indication of what you know that you can do in the present or in the future. Big difference.

For example, my resumé wouldn't say anything of my artistic abilities. Never really done that for an employer. And as a programmer, I show a lot of SQL Server, web site development, etc. But it says nothing of my ability to read people or my knack to rapidly see potential problems in a given solution that others might miss, which saves time and money.

I mean, think about your resumé... what's missing from it? What about you makes you stellar but isn't easily shown on a resumé?

And the interview is usually worse. It's so 1990's, it hurts.

"Tell me about your previous work... tell me about yourself... why do you think you would be qualified for this position?"

How many times have you walked out of an interview knowing that they have your resumé in hand but feeling like they have no clue what you're capable of doing for them?

I'll paraphrase one of the quotes that I posted earlier:

The 'surplus society' has a surplus of similar interviewees, exhibiting similar skills, with similar educational backgrounds, probably coming up with similar ideas, producing similar things, with similar salary requirements and most likely similar quality.
Having done a lot of hiring in the past, there are two piles for candidates: the "absolutely not" pile and the "maybe" pile. The "maybes" need more investigation: background check, reference check, and ultimately, an interview.

With the "maybe" pile during the interview, an employer generally looks for intangibles, such as personality traits that make the candidate seem more like a "fit" than the other candidates. But being a "fit" doesn't indicate breakthrough performance. It means that the person will most likely be much like everyone else already working there. Does that help the company stand out among its competitors? Normally, no. In other words, most people don't really know what to hire to make their group/division/company stand out and impress in the marketplace.

And when managers hire, they usually expect the employee to perform within the job description, which is usually based on previous experience doing exactly what they've always done. Which generally leads to this tombstone, which I've borrowed from Tom Peters slideshow:

Screw that.

"Our business needs a massive transfusion of talent, and talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among non-conformists, dissenters and rebels." - David Ogilvy

"My wife and I went to a [kindergarten] parent-teacher conference and were informed that our budding refrigerator artist, Christopher, would be receiving a grade of Unsatisfactory in art. We were shocked. How could any child - let alone our child - receive a poor grade in art at such a young age? His teacher informed us that he had refused to color within the lines, which was a state requirement for demonstrating ‘grade-level motor skills.'" - Jordan Ayan, AHA!

A resumé is exactly that: it shows how well you've colored within the lines. But it says very little about what you can really do. It only shows what you've been allowed to do.

Screw that.

All in favor of the death of the resumé, don't just say "Aye!" but instead, go create a portfolio of your talent in such a way that everyone can view it and get a real sense of who you are and what you can truly do.


Tags: tom peters | resume
by Brett Rogers, 5/19/2005 11:58:50 AM