Are Resumes Dead or Dying? Is Yours?


The subject of resumes and their relevance—or lack thereof—stirs up fear, anxiety, discouragement, and other negative reactions among job seekers.

This raises more than one question, however, and if you’re considering a job search, you need to consider some of the questions, including these:

  1. Are resumes really dead or well on their way to extinction?

The short answer to this question is yes, no, and maybe. Think back to what resumes looked like and how they were used decades ago. Remember, the internet basically didn’t exist for the average job seeker. Newspaper classifieds reigned supreme. LinkedIn also didn’t exist. Resumes used simple, fairly standard formats and leaned on elements such as job duties and responsibilities.

Then the internet happened in an increasingly major way—in fact, technology in general started impacting how you submitted your resume to potential employers. That trend hasn’t stopped. In fact, it has greatly accelerated. Does the traditional resume approach meet this challenge? Not very well. To that extent, it could be described as either dead or dying.

  1. What are the alternatives for my job search if resumes are no longer relevant?

Although keeping up with change presents frequent challenges, you’ll find (if you haven’t already) that it’s essential. Awareness of new developments strengthens your ability to cope with and overcome those challenges. Here are just a few points you might want to consider when job searching:

  • Before you throw out your resume completely, think about ways it can still make itself useful. If necessary, adapt its presentation to suit new methods of submission, including employers’ use of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).
  • Recognize that employers don’t use technology in their hiring and recruiting because they want to make life easier for you. However, don’t let that stop you from figuring out how to repurpose your resume to enhance your job search. Make it tell a compelling value story about you.
  • Identify and implement alternative approaches that make sense for your situation. For example, are you thinking electronic or print, in-person or online? Ask yourself what employers most commonly request. If they’re not looking for a resume, what are they asking you to submit?
  1. Is my resume itself a dinosaur already? If so, what can I do about it?

Your resume could be a dinosaur for reasons that have little to do with whether resumes as a group are dead or dying. Basically, it could be falling down on the job of presenting you as a valuable asset to potential employers. In other words, it might not be fulfilling its primary purpose, which is to catch employer attention and interest.

What can you do about that? You have several options, but start with whether or not the resume answers the #1 question employers have: “What can this person do for us?” Avoid using a generic answer to that question, too—vague generalities won’t cause employers to sit up and take notice!

For example, a specific value statement like this can create significant impact: “Increased our sales 10 million last year by recruiting and building a sales team that recaptured lost accounts and brought in 8 new clients.” On the other hand, “Increased sales last year” falls flat.

Finally, remember that no resume—however good it might be—will land your next job for you by itself. You need to use your resume as part of an active job search marketing plan! In that context, it’s neither dead nor dying

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