Is the Resume Faced with Extinction?

by Marcia Hancock on February 26, 2012

According to Jonathan Lister, LinkedIn’s Advertising Chief, it is. In an interview with the Business Insider, publication date February 23rd, Mr. Lister is quoted as saying he is going to destroy your resume! LinkedIn, together with Facebook and Twitter, form the social media trinity. Of the three, LinkedIn focuses more on professional networking and job opportunities. LinkedIn purports to help professionals stay in touch with colleagues, provide a resource for finding experts in a particular field, establishing contacts within target companies for jobs, and maintaining a professional on-line persona.

So what are the trends that may lead to the demise of the resume? In the Business Insider article, it is projected LinkedIn will become the default resume. Rather than submitting pages of resumes, candidates might simply submit links to a LinkedIn profile via e-mail. This supposedly will lessen the amount of paperwork necessary for a recruiter or hiring manager to sort through and therefore lessen time required of the hiring process.

One rationale for this process is that LinkedIn profiles are standardized and easier to read. Where is the opportunity to display creativity and individualism if the expectation is for standardized, online profiles? LinkedIn profiles follow a pre-determined format and leave little or no room for self-expression. If resumes become passé, how will job applicants display their individuality? The candidate loses the ability to control how historical summary is formatted and presented. The application becomes less personal and more conforming. Is this the ideal candidate?

Then there are the legal aspects. Is the candidate legally obligated to provide only truthful and complete information on a LinkedIn profile? Employment law as it applies to resumes allows an employer to terminate an employee who lies about or misrepresents their background and work history on a resume. Is the same true for a LinkedIn profile? LinkedIn is a social medium; is a profile considered a legal document? How will the information on a social media be verified? What will stop the candidate from changing his or her LinkedIn information as they go through the hiring process? Or after hire? How will an employer maintain personnel files when applicants have applied via social media? Where and how will links to on-line profiles be stored!?

Gaining access to private and protected information from social media including LinkedIn is one other legal aspect to consider. ‘Too much information too soon’ is a factor to consider. LinkedIn profile pictures reveal gender, ethnicity, and possibly an age range. Information contained in the profile might allude to a disability or other protected information.

How to obtain consent for a background check is one other possible legal hurdle. At what point in the application process is it legal for a prospective employer to view an applicant’s LinkedIn profile? Will Mr. Lister need an applicant’s written consent prior to viewing a LinkedIn profile? Or is making one’s profile ‘public’ implied consent? Does LinkedIn offer the user the capability for privacy settings that might protect the user from discriminatory hiring practices? One can argue by sharing a link to a social media profile via e-mail might be consent in and of itself. The application process with use of social media as a major component to the process might need to be tested in court before it becomes a standard hiring practice.

At the heart of the discussion concerning the relevancy of resumes is the actual and intended purpose of its writer. The traditional view is that its purpose is to secure an interview. However, a resume is also about the introspection that takes place on the part of the writer, an analysis of skills, abilities, reflection into what motivates the individual. If for no other purpose, a resume is an exercise of self-discovery and self-worth. If the resume becomes passé or extinct, what medium exists for any and all applicants to participate in the exercise of self-discovery? My projection is that resumes may not soon be passé as employers for many occupations will continue to rely on the traditional application process. Jobs in industries that require a more hands-on skill set requiring unconventional and untraditional knowledge and abilities. Jobs not done behind a desk or in front of a computer.

The article goes on to hypothesize that LinkedIn members want to keep ‘…their professional lives separate from their personal lives…’ that LinkedIn is ‘…designed for professionals, in a professional context…’ Implied in this remark is that other social media such as Facebook is exclusively for personal expression. Facebook is an invaluable marketing tool for the small business person with limited advertising capabilities, and can be used to support professional endeavors. It is easier to access as a wider and more accessible audience with Facebook. And recruiters do use Facebook as a tool for candidate search and selection precisely to see what a potential candidate or applicant does in his/her personal life-the ultimate background screening tool!

LinkedIn and Facebook share equally as components to a social media presence for professional, skilled, semi-skilled candidates and job applicants, recruiters and businesses. A conclusion that might be drawn is that it is premature to discard the resume as the primary tool for job applicants. Legal consequences still need to be challenged and decided. And there are thousands of careers paths and companies that do not follow conventional hiring processes. Before LinkedIn replaces the resume as the first step in the hiring process, other social needs and issues will need to be addressed nationwide.

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