The Importance of the Resume In The Digital Age

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Nov. 7 2012, Published 3:49 a.m. ET

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In recent years, the importance of having a traditional one page resume has changed. More and more companies are going digital when it comes to staffing their open positions, which changes how you should be operating during your job search. Let’s begin this conversation by discussing what a resume is and what purpose it serves.

If you are still an undergraduate (or within the first few years of your career), your resume should be a one page document highlighting your education, professional and extracurricular experiences as well as your specialized skills.  Each bullet point you use to describe yourself should begin with an action verb highlighting a transferable skill that you gained from that experience that could be used in your next job.

For example, if you worked for the dining hall of your University, I have often seen teamwork highlighted as something of importance. This job could be described as: “Collaborated with a team of twelve other students to serve 1,000 patrons per meal.”  For on campus jobs such as these, employers do not want to see, “Cleaned tables and handed out desserts at dinner.”  They can understand from the description of your position what it was you were doing so there is no need to get too detailed regarding your duties.  Remember: employers only look at your resume for a maximum of 30seconds and if your skills don’t stand out immediately, you may get passed over for the position.  Your skill set should match the position they are looking for, regardless of if you list them in a traditional PDF format or if you create it digitally.

While most areas in business are still very interested in a traditional resume, the presentation of the information on your resume is changing.  I met with the Assistant Director of The Career Center at the University of Illinois, Marianna DiVietro, in order to learn more about the resume changes.  In some instances, networking can stand in the place of the perfect resume, however, a traditional resume is still important.  “Everyone should have a solid well written resume on hand just in case,” Marianna explaned.  “It’s a conservative safety net.”

One way both she and I have seen people bring new life to their resume is by adding a QR code someone can scan with their smart phone that leads an employer to the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, online portfolio or website.

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A LinkedIn profile is slowly but surely replacing a hard copy resume as many companies want to see more information on candidates and even check to see if previous employers have recommended them for future jobs.  Personally, I love LinkedIn because I can elaborate a couple bullet points more than I am able to on my traditional resume.  What’s even better, as we enter this new age of digital resumes headhunters are beginning to look for candidates online.  Both Marianna and I agree that it is now commonplace for people to get jobs based on their LinkedIn profile, so make sure yours is up to date and perfectly worded.

Should you be interested in a specialized industry, a traditional resume should not look the way someone interested in a conservative field’s does.  Advertising and graphic arts firms are industries changing the resume norms we have lived with for so long.

Red Frog Events, a Chicago based event planning company, is a perfect example of a company where having the traditional resume would hinder you.  Overall, people need to understand the type of industry they are entering into and know what type of document or website they will use to show their future employers what skills they are armed with.  Marianna’s favorite creative resume can be viewed at the top of the page here [click here to view] and you can view many other creative examples on the rest of the page.

Overall, the information found on a traditional resume is still relevant.  So even though we live in the digital age, make sure you still have a one page document ready to go and beef up your LinkedIn profile so you are visible online as well.

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