Moribund Resumes, Vivacious Stories

It seems like at least monthly a career guru is predicting the death of resumes — or even pronouncing them already dead. The latest is Ryan Rancatore, who poses the question, “Will Resumes Be Extinct By 2020?

These gurus rarely use the word “story” to describe what’s lacking in resumes or what will replace them, but their characterizations of what’s currently missing suggest that stories will fill the bill nicely.

Rancatore, for example, notes that resumes are “a woefully inadequate representation of a person’s life, career, and skill set.” Clearly, stories could better showcase those aspects. A commenter to Rancatore’s posting said, “Employers need better more concrete ways of seeing you as you really are and if you are worth their investment.” Another said: “People will want something much more personal than a piece of paper.” What better and more personal way than storytelling to enable an employer to see you as you really are?

Some of the communication vehicles that Rancatore and his commenters suggest will replace resumes — such as LinkedIn profiles, online portfolios, blogs, and VisualCVs — lend themselves better to storytelling than resumes do.

Still, Rancatore and his readers need to be careful what they wish for. Rancatore predicts that “by 2020 I suspect the average [social-media] ‘profile’ to include tons of video and interactivity.” Videos certainly are potentially story-rich, but does Rancatore have any idea how time-consuming it would be for hiring decision-makers to go through those tons of video and interactivity? Recalling my experience in reviewing just three videos submitted for Ink Foundry’s contest to choose a social-media intern based on 3-minute videos submitted by candidates, it took me more than 10 minutes to review these three videos. It would have taken no more than a couple of minutes to skim their resumes.

Yes, resumes will change, evolve, morph, and perhaps even die. Everything that hiring decision-makers say about what they want instead of resumes convinces me that they hunger for stories from candidates. The trick is to find a medium in which job-seekers can reveal their authentic selves in a storied way that hiring deciaion-makers can easily process.