Are Resumes Dead?

Are Resumes Dead?
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Sorry for the dearth of postings over the past week or so … there was a combination of factors, the 4th of July weekend, obviously, being one, but (as you can tell from looking at this) there was also the system change-over for ChicagoNow, switching from the MovableType platform to a WordPress module (which complicated various things for a while).

We have another post by Gordon Dymowski this week (soon he’ll have his own ID page, as the new platform allows for multiple authors!), with a look at resumes. Personally, I know that resumes are hanging on, as I had a surprise job interview yesterday (surprise in that it happened at all, but also in that I’d just got the call asking if I could come in the afternoon before), and the Hiring Manager I met with very evidently had a print-out of my resume, well covered with highlighter, sitting in front of him (and, no, I have no clue “how it went”, everything went well, but things were pretty much just “hanging” at the end, so for all I know I could be his #1 candidate, or I could have been written off … we’ll see).

Anyway, here’s Gordon’s latest:

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I thought it would be a much easier question to answer….when I asked some of my fellow job seekers for suggestions on Job Stalker topics, friend and fellow job seeker Mark – an artist and stay-at-home dad – suggested the topic “Are resumes dead?”

And so, after consulting various authors such as Socrates, Schopenhauer, and Camus, here is a full-on exegesis on the philosophical implications and existential nuance of the resume.

Well, maybe it wasn’t quite like that, but I had decided to write about resumes, since I (like many fellow job seekers) often get quite a bit of data. Turn around, and you are more than likely to bump into a career coach who will give you plenty of advice, and more specific advice for a small fee. People who remind us that employers spend 7 – 20 seconds looking at our resume, but never tell us where that statistic comes from (other than a generic “research”).

However, there doesn’t seem to be any real consistency (at least, what I could find) about what to include – and not include – in a resume. How long should a resume be? If you’re in a non-traditional field, would a traditional resume work? Should I include an objective, or a personal branding statement? How far back should I go in my career? Should I simply use my Linked In profile as a substitute? Why should I customize for each job if I’m also sending my resume to recruiters? Who put the bomp in the bomp-shu-bomp-shu bomp? And finally, who put the ram in the rama-lama-ding-dong?

Yes, if you’re asking those final two questions as part of your job search, it’s time to take a break. And so today’s entry is a plea for resume sanity – a time for us to take stock, to try to make sense of all the information available, and take some first steps towards changing our thinking about our resumes.

Thankfully, for people in non-traditional careers (like my pal Mark), there are plenty of services like Visual CV, which allow you to create online portfolios of work. Some of us bolster our social media efforts with an online hub that helps streamline our search results (you can find mine at In terms of functional vs. chronological, massive Google searches result in many stating a preference for the chronological (time based) versus functional (what you did).

In short, the resume is less a summary of what you’ve done and a quantification and qualification of what value you bring to an employer. Let me provide some bullet points to start us on the road to resume sanity (and if you have comments or wish to disagree, please leave a comment – I’m not an expert; just a guy who, like many others, only wishes to find a steadily paying gig).

  • Resumes should be one to two pages long. Since employers only take up to 20 seconds to look at it, brevity is not only the soul of wit, but may be the fast track to employment.
  • Objectives are out, but a personal branding statement (3 – 4 lines) is a good idea, for it allows you to state what value you bring to a position. Think of it as a thesis, and the rest of your resume is support.
  • Quantify and qualify what you’ve done – “Managed a tobacco merchant education campaign” is good; “Reduced underage tobacco sales to minors by 5% across seven Missouri counties through coordinating volunteer and paid efforts to educate vendors” is much stronger. (And yes, it’s something I’ve done)
  • Creating a “master resume” that one can modify for each job applied (integrating keywords) – and then modifying it to integrate keywords in the job description – may be a good way to avoid a one-size-fits-all resume.
  • Recruiters should not only get a resume tailored to how you can provide value to any company (the only instance where a more generic resume may be allowed), when I revise my resume, I send my recruiters a new copy. (Granted, I may include it when I apply for a position, but it allows me to maintain a line of communication)
  • LinkedIn should be used more as a networking tool & career overview, integrating more SEO techniques to help drive search. Resumes allow for a short-and-sweet summary of why you will be valuable to a position.
  • Creativity in resumes is not a bad thing.
  • Work as a freelancer counts. Include it on the resume.
  • Finally, ten years is probably the furthest back you should go in your resume (and it might be a good idea to avoid putting dates in your education section).

So let’s all begin to take some steps towards resume sanity. It can be a very confusing, frustrating experience to try finding meaningful work. But together, we can work towards building a better job search experience.

Have comments? Is there anything I’ve left out? Well, please feel free to make a comment below, or you can follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn (just mention that Job Stalker or Chicago Now when you send the invite), or find any other way to connect with me via

Thanks for reading!


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