Talent   //   February 25, 2022

Resumes alone no longer cut it: Merging the old with the new when applying for a job

Consider this: TikTok, the social platform known for viral dance videos, now offers TikTok resumes, a job search function that encourages users to directly reply to a job posting with a video resume. Almost at the other end of the job application spectrum is The Washington Post, which still asks editorial candidates for their college GPA.

While technology is disrupting the application process much like it has transformed the way we work, those examples illustrate the vast differences candidates still find when applying for a new role. The dichotomy may make some think certain parts of the job application process are outdated, but experts say traditional elements like resumes and covers should work in tandem with LinkedIn, digital portfolios and yes, TikTok.

“Resumes alone are no longer enough,” said Maggie Hulce, senior vice president at the job search engine Indeed. 

Experts encourage candidates to update social media channels with industry news, endorsements, humble brags about courses completed or accolades earned, and praise for colleagues and mentors.

“Social media and LinkedIn profiles can be just as important as a resume and cover letter, and just as powerful,” said Lily Valentin, head of North America operations at the job listing aggregator Adzuna.

The cover letter still serves an important purpose and Valentin encourages candidates to look at it as an opportunity to tell their story, show passion and hunger for the position and generally stand out from the crowd. Cover letters are also a prime opportunity to explain resume gaps or pre-emptively pour water on any red flags. 

“Why skip this step when it can act as a simple way to set yourself apart from someone whose skills and experience on paper might look similar to yours?” added Valentin.

To best use these tools to your advantage, it is essential to know how employers filter through them. The most important thing a job seeker can do is optimize their resume for keyword searches.

“This means taking the skills mentioned in the job ad and using [that language] to demonstrate how they have been applied in prior experiences,” said Valentin. “This also helps ensure that the resume will pass through any AI resume-parsing toolset to screen for certain keywords or traits and get it in front of the hiring manager.”

For those in creative fields, the resume plays a supporting role as opposed to a starring one. It’s the appetizer, the entree is a professional portfolio site. Creative gig workers may not need an old-fashioned resume, when a website can demonstrate their capabilities, showcase relevant experience, credentials, and professional testimonials, according to Margaret Lilani, vice president of talent solutions for freelancing platform Upwork. “Clients appreciate it when talent can show what they’ve accomplished rather than just describe it,” she said.

A candidate’s interview presence also remains a top consideration, that for the foreseeable future, must be telegraphed through a screen. Gen Z recruiters vastly prefer virtual interviews to in-person ones, according to job site Monster (they also enjoy corresponding with candidates via text). And Zoom interviews are here to stay. According to Indeed, 93% of employers will continue to conduct them. Even pre-recorded video interviews are on the rise, as several viral gaffes can attest.

What no longer matters

References upon request? Snail mail addresses? College degrees? Sorority membership? Unless it’s clearly relevant, leave it out. For experienced candidates, especially in fields like tech, skills pay the bills.

Location is also negligible. Employers are much more flexible and open-minded about a candidate’s geographical circumstances thanks to the pandemic, so it is fair to be circumspect about yours — at least initially. Also, unless you are a recent grad with limited internship or work experience, college degrees should sink to the bottom of your resume.

“Rather than focus on antiquated performance indicators like education and degrees, or length of stay at previous companies, employers should put greater emphasis on the quality and relevance of the work itself,” said Lilani. “If you’re hiring a developer, do you care more about their coding skills as may be represented by either a coding test or a live coding exercise, or their SAT score?” 

Job site Indeed’s Hulce agrees. “We encourage hiring tools that use objective screening, such as skills assessments or screener questions, as these technologies make it easy to identify candidates based on their ability to do the job vs. what is listed solely on their resumes,” she said.

Some companies like Upwork are doing away with college degree requirements entirely to cast wider nets. 

Hulce points to skyrocketing tuition costs and alternate career paths as reasons candidates may forego college. Filtering out those candidates can keep employers from potentially excellent hires.