Death To The Resume? How To Go Paperless And Score Jobs Socially

With, well, the Internet, who needs a resume anymore? Here's the best way to create an online presence that will have employers coming to you—not the other way around.

I’ve never liked the idea of a resume. Partly that’s because I haven’t had a normal job since 2002. At any given point, I’m writing for five to seven different organizations, and I’m also in a line of work that’s more about output than anything else. If you’re thinking of hiring me, there are examples of my work all over the web. A resume won’t add much to that, which is why I don’t have one.

But it turns out that in the social media era, I’m not the only one who doesn’t bother with a one-page summary of my work history—and who doesn’t use one to get a foot in the door somewhere. Much about the traditional approach to getting jobs is changing. The resume is "quickly becoming archaic," says Ian Ide, president of the search division at WinterWyman. "People still like that concise document for purposes of interviews, but the front end is changing pretty quickly." These days, "Many first interviews are granted on LinkedIn profiles, not resumes."

Indeed, your online presence—particularly at LinkedIn, but with some Twitter and Pinterest possibilities—can become a subtle way to intrigue recruiters without giving anything away at your current job and, in fact, without you doing much at all.

With LinkedIn, aside from keeping your profile up-to-date and listing specific skills people might search for, Ide says that you should go to your settings and indicate—in the "Communications" section—that you’re open to hearing about career opportunities. That's a tip-off to recruiters that you’d be okay with being contacted, but it doesn’t flag anything obvious to anyone you currently work with.

Next? Put things on your LinkedIn profile that can start conversations. Maybe it’s news about a charity you support, or even your favorite sports team, but just as wearing a Red Sox T-shirt in a bar would give someone an opening to talk with you, so can the logo on your LinkedIn profile. "Recruiters want their efforts to be high yield," says Ide. "If there are seven people who are technically qualified for the job, the person who looks approachable is the one they’re going to reach out to." In a bar, you speak to the person who’s smiling, not scowling.

On Twitter, the key to hearing from interested organizations is to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Tweet links to interesting stories about your field—particularly ones others aren’t sharing—and respond to other people’s tweets. Offer pithy but professional commentary. The fact that you can express yourself well in 140 characters is, in itself, an attractive job skill. Follow—or follow back—people working at organizations you might someday be interested in. While it might seem cool to have many more followers than people you follow (as if you were Ashton Kutcher), being open to direct messages increases the chances that people will query you.

Pinterest brings in the option of creating a visual record of your work in a more centralized location than your own website (which is a great idea if you have a portfolio, but is also a lot of work, and harder to lure in a lot of eyeballs). If you’re in a design-oriented field, pinning examples of your work, and work you admire, creates a very clear sense of your eye. As more people re-pin you, you become known as an expert. Add in a good way to contact you, and you just might start hearing from people looking for your visual sensibility.

"Posting your resume—up on Monster—is not the most subtle thing in the world," says Ide. But if you can be more coy, you can gauge the market for your talent, and figure out what your next move should be.

[Image: Flickr user Jenni C]

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  • Fanis Poulinakis

    I am in search for my next career step as well and after almost a year I've gained a lot of experience on what works and what not. 

    1. Unless your resume is perfectly crafted for a specific position, it won't pass the ATS (Tracking system large corporation use to sort out resumes).

    2. Network is very important. But don't wait to start networking only when you are looking for  job. People will have to trust you before helping you out. Work on your network on a daily basis, even when you have a job

    3. When you email keep it short and write an interesting title that fulfills their curiosity. Don't send email on Mondays. Around 3-4 pm is the best time and Wednesdays are the best days 

    4. When you do email, connect first. Tell them what you have in common. Make them feel they are talking to a real human being 

    5. Be different. Create a site, blog to be out there. Show why you can be an asset and how you think. I created a personal branding site (don't want to mention it here since I don't want you to think that this is an ad for that) and since then I've started getting interviews. 

    Hope it helps

  • fionamacd

    Yes, I agree with everything you say! Although some companies are still using old methods, but that pool of people who are available for that type of recruitment is going to keep getting smaller. Companies need to step up and realize that recruitment is more of a relationship building exercise and not some con to get candidates to accept a job for the least amount of money. Definitely, I think switched on recruiters are using LinkedIn and other social media profiles to find candidates that will be good technical and culture fits for organizations.

  • Stephen Q Shannon

    Many companies use blind ads (avoid them) erroneously seeking candidate information, especially current pay (salaries), so they have a better idea what to pay internal candidates they plan to promote. Smart employee candidates try to do their own research to justify higher pay only to be confronted by internal recruiters who will claim they have "qualified" external candidates who will come on board for less. You are so right. Relationship building wins. Further, unearthing the so-called hidden job market through relationship marketing is. I am told a high percentage of the better paying jobs are not advertised.

  • Babu

    Yes this is the way world will move for talent hunting . I envisage a situation where all your activities consolidated at one place is a reflection of What you are , Your belief, skills, what people speak of you and many more with few videos thrown in for special effect. 

    Your idea is a future recruitment portal in the making  which will give raise to KPO reviewing all that you are capable and recommending you to prospective employers

    This should be taken as a sign post of doom for those who are thinking of traditional recruitment. 

    As you go higher up the ladder it will be simulation center of situations that will short list the best and brightest CEO's 

  • Sherrill Poland

    Laura, I know a few people who have made their LinedIn profile their resume, and they have received calls from interested recruiters as well as job offers. While the initial contact was from their LinkedIn profile the potential employer wants a hard copy. But gone are the cover letters. I am new to LinkedIn, but building my profile as my resume is my plan of attack. 

  • Stephen Q Shannon

    It may take longer than Laura might think to have brilliant (and excellently employed) candidates to "buy-in" to her posting. That means easier pickings for the more brilliant who take Laura's lead. For my part, way behind the scenes, I have been using the 2001 (yes going on 13 year old 60 minute read by Jeffery Fox)
    DON'T SEND A RESUME for my workbook with 100s of former clients. Prophetic? Nope, just practical advice that one-size-fits-all digital or paper died long ago. Most decided to not attend the funeral, hence my comment. Way to go Laura. Let's keep trying to persuade the skeptics. As Mike Lonneke, a former co-worker and renaissance person often says, "Truth is truth, you can't argue with truth". Though we often try. 

  • Rick Presley

    In my current career transition, it is absolute truth that I have not received a single reply to any Cover Letter/Resume combination that i have sent out. Not one. However, I am frequently being contacted by recruiters who spotted me on Linked In and my current contract position is as a result of a Linked in connection. At least in my case, the traditional resume is dead.

  • Stephen Q Shannon

    Rick, Love to hear the "rest of your story"! Are you successfully re-employed? And, in passing, as you dump the resume and cover letter drill, did you customize both your letter and resume for each set of eyeballs? Just curious. 

  • Rick Presley

    I have a contract position, so the answer is "Yes and no," to being re-employed, Stephen. the problem with customizing the CL/R combo is that companies go to great lengths to protect the hiring managers from contacting ambitious job seekers. Everything has to go through HR first and if they don't like you, you don't move on. I'm working with former colleagues in the same boat as I was and my #1 recommendation is to contact the hiring manager directly before sending a CL/R in to the company. Even better is to contact a hiring manager before they have an opening created. I've found that a sizable portions of posted jobs have already been filled by internal candidates, but the company has to "go through the motions" before filling it with the "most qualified" candidate.

  • stephen q shannon

    You are on to something. Find out what the "customer" needs then tailor your content. The other step is to explore the "hidden job market" where, I am told, 82% of the better paying jobs hide out. A virtual friend, Mary Elizabeth Bradford has written books about it that I think is "spot on". Just fyi. I have no affiliation with her, just an advocate as I am of Laura, who wrote the article for FastCompany that got us communicating. Keep up your pursuit and use all possible free stuff that LinkedIn offers and connect with Lou Adler, who is an expert on hiring and getting hired. He's connected with LinkedIn and has his own company too. Your newest advocat, too, sQs PS - I have a former client by the name of Rick L. Pressley  (two Ss).