Can the Traditional Resume Keep Up?

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The resume has been an essential part of the traditional hiring process for centuries, with the word “resume” deriving from the French word “summary.”

But can a short one-page summary of bullet points and buzzwords truly convey the information needed to fill talent needs and create equity in an ever-evolving job market? With digital disruption changing the future of work, is there a better way for job candidates to showcase their abilities?

Pearson recently held an informative roundtable to discuss this topic. In this blog, we’ll touch on some of the highlights and insights shared for candidates and recruiters alike.

Problems with the traditional resume

While a traditional resume may be good at presenting a candidate’s past, it may not be as good at reflecting their true abilities and talents. For most candidates, their past says more about what opportunities they’ve had in life rather than what they’re actually capable of achieving.

Unfortunately, many hiring managers use the resume at the top of a decision funnel to take shortcuts. They end up scanning for certain institutions, specific length of time in roles, a list of credentials and other qualifying factors that can end up discriminating against those who haven’t been given the same opportunities in life.

By choosing job candidates based on past access rather than actual ability, the cycle of disadvantaging others continues. This inequity built into the hiring process ensures that candidates who have had better opportunities are selected over ones who may be most qualified.

Ways to improve the hiring process

Across organizations, greater value will need to be placed on an individual’s skills as well as their actual outcome. To improve the hiring process, more opportunity should be given to candidates who don’t necessarily meet the desired requirements but may have the right skills.

This means looking at the resume in a unique way or requesting new types of information from job applicants, for example, work samples, assessments, storytelling, etc. Traditional qualifying factors like college degrees can still be valued, but at different points in the decision-making process. Job descriptions can also be updated to remove certain qualifications and years of experience requirements.

Jonathan Finkelstein, CEO, Credly, Pearson asks, “How do we bring about a world in which every person has the ability to achieve their full potential on the basis of what they actually know and can do?” Credly works to answer this question by helping people connect their verified abilities to actual opportunities.

By verifying abilities instead of work history, candidates who may otherwise be overlooked when decisions are getting made about talent can instead be centered. This allows organizations to inform human capital decisions in a way that brings more equity and access to the workforce.

Ways to improve the resume

Resumes of the future should become better at developing the story of the individual, rather than just providing a limited glimpse into the past. Candidates should try helping employers understand who they are and what they can do—not just what they have done.

By creating skill-based resumes with storytelling, you can better prove your potential as a job applicant and keep pace with the future of work. Find a way to convey your abilities – or even create the work you want to be doing. Video resumes, creative contributions, submission of work like writing samples, architectural plans, art portfolios or even spreadsheets showing accomplishments can also be helpful in telling your story.

Finally, don’t forget the power of the cover letter. You can use it in unorthodox ways to expand on your journey. Instead of just sticking to a traditional cover letter format, try explaining where and how you acquired skills, your influences and even a bit about your personality and passions.

Job trends for the future

As the world adjusts to rapid changes in the job market, many are asking how the role of humans in the economy will shift over the coming years. Faethm has found that, for many industries, core human abilities like empathy, imagination, creativity and emotional intelligence will become more valuable in the workplace as automation takes over many roles.

While some jobs will be eliminated, other jobs will be created and, in many cases, in areas where humans prefer to spend their time and energy. As these types of soft skills gain value to employers, candidates will need to become better at conveying their stories and capabilities in creative ways. In turn, employers will need to become better at looking beyond the traditional resume and top-down hiring process to assess candidates.

Mike Howells, President, Workforce Skills, Pearson sees the transformational potential in the future of work to empower the individual. “In every aspect of our lives, we now have access to an enormous range of data, insights and opportunities to figure out what works for us and how to get it. Whether as a consumer or employee, we now have access to an amazing array of data-driven tools to personalize our experience and find solutions to fit our needs.”

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