Imagine a world with no resumes. A hiring market where people aren’t judged by the superficial impressions given off by a single short document, but on their ability to actually “prove” that they’re highly capable in their field and capable of solving an employer’s problems. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? And a much more fair way of going about things?
Well, it seems that a growing percentage of employers are starting to think this way. They’re getting so frustrated with the built-in limitations of resume-driven recruiting that they’re shifting their strategy to allow candidates to show off their skills in more creative and tangible ways.
For starters, as uber-blogger Seth Godin recently wrote about here in a snappy little article, “Few people are interested in your resume any more. Plenty are interested in what you’ve done. Are you leaving behind an easily found trail of accomplishment?”
On a similar note, the Wall Street Journal published an article the other day (which you’ll find here) entitled “No More Resumes, Say Some Firms” where author Rachel Emma Silverman highlights a number of organizations that have come up with innovative new ways to evaluate potential hires. Some use on-line questionnaires to get people to actively demonstrate their enthusiasm and expertise, versus just passively sending in a piece of paper. Other firms have come up with unusual internships and participatory events that allow them to ferret out the most likely recruits. And another company, still, apparently “posted a series of challenges on its website aimed at gauging candidates’ thought processes. (One challenge: Estimate how many pennies lined side by side would span the Golden Gate Bridge.) It also asked candidates to submit a video demonstrating their love of gaming and the firm’s products.”
All told, this will be an interesting phenomenon to watch. Could the end of the resume era truly be upon us—or will this time-tested hiring tool continue to maintain its dominance, as companies realize that these more creative hiring methods often 1) take a TON more time to implement than scanning a stack of resumes and 2) open them up to claims of (and legal action around) discrimination and favoritism? Not everybody has access to video equipment, after all, just as certain essay and puzzle questions could easily be accused of being laced with cultural bias.
Regardless of how things play out, however, I think the message is clear. The smartest thing a career-minded professional can do right now is hedge their bets by having BOTH a killer resume in hand, as well as an impressive body of work samples to show off to employers, when circumstances warrant. So if you haven’t started to do so, and your work is able to be “captured” in any concrete way, it’s high time you started piecing together a portfolio, of sorts, for yourself. So think hard. Do you have any work samples, reports, and documents that illustrate your brilliance? PowerPoint presentations or business plans? Writing samples? Code samples? White papers or published articles? Curricula or training tools you’ve designed? Videos of you in action? Websites you’ve worked on or that showcase the fruits of your labor?
There’s no question that “showing versus telling” is a powerful marketing tool, when the time comes, and there are now so many cool (and free) tools for compiling/displaying content (e.g. Slideshare.net, WordPress.com, Carbonemade.com, Behance.net, Google Docs, etc.) there’s no excuse for not starting at least a rudimentary effort in this direction.
And yet, as liberating as the “body of work” concept might sound to people who’ve tired of the normal hiring routine, here are the uncomfortable little questions nobody ever seems to ask:
1) What if somebody’s work doesn’t actually lend itself to the creation of a “body of work” portfolio or some form of tangible proof?
2) What if somebody has done remarkable things, but is unable to share them due to ethics, confidentiality restrictions, non-disclosure, or non-compete agreements?
3) What if somebody is capable of achieving great things, but simply hasn’t been in an environment that supported their efforts or allowed them to get things accomplished?
At any rate, it will be interesting to watch where this trend goes, since I’ve seen a number of recent postings and discussions focused on this topic. Your thoughts?