Are Resumes Still Relevant?

Yes, resumes are still relevant, but their purpose is changing.

Published on February 13, 2020

As the job search process changes, one persistent question has emerged: are resumes still relevant? The short answer is yes, resumes are still relevant, but finding a job is no longer about just having a good resume.


Why resumes are beneficial

Resumes were created as a way to list past work experiences, job titles, and qualifications for potential employers. What once was simply a scribbled list of skills and abilities turned into a requirement for job seekers. At one point in the history of job recruitment, submitting a resume in person was the only way to start the hiring process. Resumes are still used in the hiring process today, but not in the way they were originally intended.

Resumes have been revolutionized by the introduction of the internet. People were able to publicize their resumes by posting them on websites like CareerBuilder and Monster. With this shift, the process of applications and resume submissions changed. Access to the internet provided a new opportunity for job seekers to submit their resumes to potential employers. For recruiters, the internet made it possible to find resumes online. 

Many companies require a resume during the application process. Unless a candidate was previously researched online, a resume is typically a company’s first look at that candidate’s background and experience. Due to the popularity of resumes and the fact that many companies request them, putting together a good resume is an important piece of the job search process.

Another benefit of a resume is that it can be used as a preparation tool. In order for a candidate to properly explain how they would be a good fit for a position, they need to understand what they’re capable of. Taking the time to write out a resume helps a candidate familiarize themself with what they bring to the table before entering the job search. Preparing a resume prompts internal reflection about personal skills, which ultimately helps evaluate different job opportunities. This knowledge also helps organize job interviews, as resumes are frequently used as a guide during those conversations. 


Why resumes don’t always work

While resumes can be useful as a job search preparation tool, focusing on resumes as the sole approach to the job search is out of date. Resumes can easily add bias to the candidate selection process. The personal preferences of a recruiter, a focus on the job titles listed, or the prioritization of experience over skills can all contribute to this hiring bias. A resume alone doesn’t tell the full story of who a candidate is or the skills that they have acquired over time. Carisa Miklusak, CEO of tilr, states that, “focusing on skills provides a fuller understanding of the candidate’s experience and capabilities, and opens up more opportunities.” Focusing solely on job titles and the resume can create an opening for discrimination or bias, whether intentional or not, based on one’s implied background. The true potential of a candidate is unable to shine through when resumes are focused on such static things.

To side-step some of this bias, many companies have switched to using Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that include the ability to automatically scan resumes for specific keywords. Though the intention for this system is to streamline the recruitment process, many resumes never make it out the other side. Unless a resume contains the perfect keywords or job titles, it may never actually end up in front of the individual hiring. This can cause a bad case of keyword stuffing, where a resume is overloaded with buzzwords in an attempt to manipulate its ranking during the scan. The result is dishonesty or a listing of out-of-context skills, which ultimately ends up being a waste of time for both the job seeker and the recruiter.


Alternatives to resumes

There are many alternatives and supplements to resumes that should be considered. Some examples include a robust LinkedIn profile or an online portfolio. With over 575 million users, LinkedIn allows professionals to connect with others across the globe as well as develop a strong digital footprint. An online portfolio is a tool that can be used to showcase personal branding, skills, and prior work. This is beneficial for a company because they can make a decision based on more than a few bullet points on a resume. It’s also beneficial for the one seeking the job because instead of trying to convey their excellence on paper, they are able to show it in a polished and professional way that authentically reflects who they are. 

Companies are also exploring skills-based alternatives to the hiring process. For entry-level work, companies are focusing on matching workers’ skills with the skills necessary to complete a job well. This innovation has been primarily adopted by companies in the technology field, but others outside of this industry have been using this strategy as well. Instead of waiting until the final round of the interview process to evaluate a candidate’s proficiencies, companies are conducting this assessment far earlier in the process. This allows them to hire the candidate that is best fit for the role based on competency and capability rather than their previous job titles, experience, or degrees.

Other companies are using tactics like neuroscience-based, AI- powered technology to determine whether or not a candidate is a fit for the role. To assess a candidate’s capabilities and critical thinking, they test their cognitive skills by having them complete brain tasks such as puzzles or quizzes. They then compare this to the top employees at their own company in order to hire the person that would fit best with those who already work there. This helps prevent bias in the hiring process by focusing on cognitive skills instead of experience.


So, are resumes still relevant? For the time being, yes. Many companies still require them as part of the application process, and they can be helpful tools for job seekers to understand how to present themselves to prospective companies. But as technology steps into this process, there are tactics that are being used to filter out resumes as well as other platforms that are pushing resumes out of the spotlight. It’s time to consider something new as the workforce changes.