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Is the Traditional Resume Dying?

Social media data is making the traditional resume less valuable by the day.

I first was first going to use the word “dead” instead of “dying” in the title, but that felt a little sensationalist to me. But I think “dying” is not inaccurate. At the very least, it seems the traditional resume grows less relevant by the day. I’ll explain.

I recently came across a blog from Vala Afshar, the CMO and Chief Customer Officer of Enterasys, a network infrastructure and security company. The blog’s title was “Proof that the Web is Your Resume.” I won’t go into too many details (the search started with a #socialCV tweet and the blog itself is well worth the read), but the author describes how in March he initiated a resume-less search for a new Marketing position, was very satisfied with the outcome, and plans to use the same process for all recruiting going forward.

In essence, Mr. Afshar’s position is that “the web is your curriculum vitae (CV) and social networks are your mass references.” The blog also noted:

“Having an ability to showcase and validate a candidate’s work through a social graph (Twitter, About.me, Facebook, Slideshare, Google, forums, etc.), search engine footprint (special URL references to projects, linkbacks, publications, etc.), network connections is much more powerful than just 1-2 pages and 3 prepped references. The prospective employer now has an ability to fully evaluate a candidate and understand if they are a fit or not based on actual work, not just 2 pages of crafty wording.”

Have to admit he has a point. I just read some disturbing statistics from the Society of Human Resource Managers stating that 53 percent of resumes and job applications “contain falsifications,” and, worse still, 70 percent of college students “would lie on a resume to get a job they want.” Contrast those unpleasant statistics with a more nuanced, multidimensional portrait of a candidate that can be available through social media, and you start to see the logic of the position.

I should add at this point that I’m hardly a "techie" in the back pocket of social media companies. I’m Old School by training and inclination, close to a quarter century in management with a Fortune 500 life insurance company, with a taste for Brooks Brothers white button-down collar shirts (maybe blue on a casual day). Only slightly more technologically savvy than my West Highland White Terrier, Tristan. But change this seismic is pretty hard even for me to miss. Were I still a hiring manager, or were I in HR, which would I rather have: A lot of information about a candidate where I do the filtering, or a little information about a candidate where they do the filtering? Seems an easy choice.

Now to return to my consideration of “dead” versus “dying” at the outset. Sure, Enterasys is a networking organization and their recruiting needs are no doubt different from those of Joe’s Bar & Grill down the street. And the “social footprint” of some extraordinarily valuable C-suiters in their 50s, say, may be faint or non-existent. But those waiting closely in the wings have a much more distinct social footprint, I’m willing to bet.

So, to use boxing parlance, it feels to me like the traditional resume is “on the ropes,” down if not yet out. Bleeding badly from a cut above the eye. In a weakened diminished state.

Going into the 12th round, which would you bet on: large amounts of social media data or “two pages of crafty wording”?

Will be most interested to hear the perspectives of HR executives and Recruiters on this issue…

 This article first appeared at Forbes.com.

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