Remember Elle Woods and her scented, pink-paper resume in Legally Blonde? She’d be an anomoly today, as most people don’t print paper resumes anymore. But despite lamentations that “Google is the new resume” or “Resumes are useless in the Internet age,” you still need one if you plan to apply for a position at a large company. Even a social media position.
While those of us who blog, tweet, post, message and tag each other all day long would like to think that our online presence is enough to stand on its own as a testament to how smart and savvy we are, the human resources department is still going to want you to submit a formal application, which often includes uploading a resume. If you’re trying to land a job with a funky little start-up or a tiny shop with a handful of employees, then the resume matters less and all of your other online work will likely be a bigger factor. But if you’re looking for a job with a big brand or company, have it ready.
I’ve worked very closely with the HR department in some of my previous jobs, so I’ve had the chance to observe some of the machinations that go along with trying to hire someone at a large company. Here are three reasons why, no matter how sexy your blog, Posterous, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or “personal brand’ might be, you still need to have a resume:
1. Your blog can’t be entered into a corporate resume database
There are several reasons big corporations use resume database-systems like BrassRing or HireGround. Probably the most important one is compliance. In order to be in compliance with myraid hiring laws with acronyms like OFCCP, EEO, and FLSA, companies with more than 100 employees need to show ratios of applicants to interviewees to hires, show that they have consistent hiring practices across the company, and show that they actively sought out diverse candidates.
Making each candidate go through an online hiring system, which usually includes a resume upload and screening questions, allows for easy data collection for compliance purposes. Companies can’t run your blog or Google profile through its screening processes when it comes time to file compliance reports each year.
2. The first cut of candidates may be made by someone who doesn’t know what a blog is
Often an HR associate sorts through the company resume database– sometimes arbitrarily, sometimes by keyword– to find an initial group of candidates to screen. This is where networking is huge. If you submit your resume online, it can be a total crapshoot whether it even gets viewed. But if you know the hiring manager or someone who can pass your resume along and help it move to the top of the pile, you’re in a much better position.
In all likelihood, however, the HR associate probably isn’t going to find and read your blog. It would be extremely time consuming to do that for each candidate in an initial screen. They may check you out on Google or LinkedIn in a cursory manner, but their goal is to fill the role as quickly as possible. That’s their metric. So unless someone tells them to flag your resume, you’re at the mercy of whether or not you appear in the database search results (so make sure you have the appropriate keywords in your resume).
3. Many companies still aren’t comfortable with social media for the hiring process
The mere fact that a company would hire for a social media position is a step in the right direction, but if they’re looking for someone with expertise in the area, it’s because they lack it. The hiring manager may not know where or how to start screening candidates based on their social presence. Should they be looking for quantity or quality of blog posts? Does number of Twitter followers matter? How many LinkedIn connections should the candidate have? Why aren’t they on FriendFeed? What is FriendFeed? Corporate HR and hiring managers are used to resumes, comfortable with resumes, and still expect resumes. They’re not quite sure yet how to integrate social media into established hiring practices.
Even a company like BestBuy, ahead of the curve on social media adoption, didn’t quite know how to structure a traditional job posting for its Emerging Media Manager role. Kudos to them for reaching out to the community and crowdsourcing ideas for key skills and requirements for the position. But anyone who applies for the role must do so by submitting an application and uploading a resume via BestBuy’s corporate career site.
Yes, it would be great if someday we could all just let our work stand on its on merit wherever it happens to live online and not have to put together verbose and formal resumes. You certainly should mention and even highlight your online outposts on your resume (at least your blog and LinkedIn profile), and as you move further along in the hiring process there’s a greater chance that someone in the hiring process will take the time to look at your work. Just don’t expect the traditional resume to disappear any time soon.