resumesRecently, a member of our extended family described an initial informal meeting he’d had with a prominent firm in the finance industry about a key position that they were very interested to have him join them for.  Toward the end of the conversation, he was asked to send over a resume so they could better understand his current past roles and successes, to which he innocently but incredulously asked out loud, “[They] still use resumes?”

We shared a good laugh over that as I reviewed his very impressive list of current and past achievements and provided some mild suggestions to add a little more impact to what he was about to share with the representatives of the company.  But his defining question lingered in my mind and caused me to consider that his perspective and surprise may not have been all that off-target.

Let’s tackle this first:  Exactly what is the purpose of a resume in 2015?  Is it to get an interview for a desired position?  Is it a self-marketing tool?  Is it to communicate your skills to an employer?  Is it a means to ‘brand’ who you are?

In word, the answer to all of these is still, ‘Yes’.  But is the resume really what employers are looking at?  Better stated, exactly what are employers looking for?

Consider what you do to market yourself.  Networking with people, participating in professional organizations, perhaps teaching or facilitating learning in your industry—these are all very good methods for current and future opportunities—each and every time you can do so.

What about being online?  Do you have a personal website?  Do you have accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter?  What type of content do you put on these sites?  How often do you post on these sites?  Lastly, do you use the same content in any two or more?

We should also ask what may be a very different question:  What do you to brand yourself?  Think about that before you frame an answer in your mind.  “How am I branding myself?”  Okay, let’s try and answer that by asking if ‘branding’ and “marketing” the same thing.  Maybe they are.

Let’s also look at “branding”.  Do you have a ‘personal’ website?  Do you have an account with Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, or Flickr?  What type of content do you put on these sites?   How often do you post on these sites?  And, lastly, do you use the same content in any two or more?  And one more thing—you’re always online.

If your answers to what you do to market yourself and what you do to brand yourself are different, if the content you post to one is substantially different from one set of sites to the other, then you actually may be doing both.

As we know, many employers now check on applicants through social media, and many of these employers are becoming increasingly savvy to the variety of social media people prefer to use and the purposes to serve those preferences.  For the record, I feel this is a responsible step taken by recruiters and search teams.  And as employers do this more regularly, many are finding that the content and information they find online is often as informative to them about the candidate they are considering as any resume they are provided.

Should information about you and the ways you choose to express your professional achievements and experiences as well as your personal interests, ideologies and experiences be considered as an all-inclusive ensemble of information?  Should pictures of your last vacation be relevant to an employer’s assessment of your skills for a position, particularly if the job is one of an advanced level of responsibility?  Is there any legitimate reason for a company to seek a connection between how you spend your time away from work and how you might perform while you’re at your job?

While each of us will value a variety of factors while answering these questions, the reality is that the contemporary jobseeker cannot dismiss the fact that information available online—especially that information put online by the jobseeker him/herself—is as available to that prospective employer as anyone else.  And while our resumes will for the foreseeable future continue to be the instrument we use to gain an interview for a job, it will be that growing information employers will search out and then combine with a resume, interviews, and reference checks that will provide them the most-informed perspective of whether that candidate is right for their organization.

If this is the reality we as current professionals, candidates and employers understand to be true, then we owe it to both ourselves and the organizations we represent to demonstrate our understanding of the specific responsibilities each of us hold for defining who we are.

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