by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Editor's note: This article is the first of two parts. Part II provides tips and examples for job-seekers using a blog as a resume.
Through the use of a variety of online tools -- blogs, wikis, social-networking sites, portfolios, podcasts, YouTube videos, and more -- individuals, especially younger people, are socially constructing their identities in ways unimagined a dozen or so years ago.
Where a dedicated careerist of old constructed a job-seeking identity through a resume and a few other printed materials disseminated to audiences that seem puny by today's standards, postmillennial upwardly mobile types are establishing their career identities to vast global audiences using the tools of the so-called Web 2.0, defined in part by Web guru Tim O'Reilly as comprising an "architecture of participation." The concept of Web 2.0 "suggests that everyone ... can and should use digital media to express and realize themselves," writes Andrew Keen in The Daily Standard.
And recruiters are responding. Case in point is the notion of the blog as a replacement or accompaniment for a resume. Sarah E. Needleman reported on the Career Journal site (now collapsed into the Wall Street Journal site; article no longer available) that Ryan Loken, a Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., recruitment manager, had filled an estimated 125 corporate jobs by reading blogs. Well-known recruiting blogger Heather Hamilton, a staffing manager at Microsoft, noted in her blog that "recruiters are searching blogs specifically for resumes." Recruiters who responded to blog postings on the topic of blogs as replacements for resumes made such comments as:
"We've hired two people fresh out of college in the past four months that we found through their blogs -- one didn't even have a formal resume. Frankly, he didn't need one. A blog trumps a resume every single time."
"Our stance is that blogging is important -- at least in our medium -- and we are developing a strategy around it. We are conducting a search for a marketing director right now -- if an applicant doesn't blog, or at least contribute heavily, it's fair to say that we are going to pass them by."
Dave Lefkow's blog post on ERE.net (a site for executive recruiters), entitled My Blog is My Resume (registration may be required to see the full article), talks about "the changing dynamics of the Web's second generation." His article's implications for job-seekers are apparent in these excerpts:
Privacy is no longer an issue. This generation seems quite comfortable publishing all of the gory details of their lives online. Some of these details will shock you. Get used to workers who are perfectly functioning members of the work world, but who perhaps make decisions in their personal lives that you find appalling.
Many job-seekers, growing up in the level playing field that is the innovation economy, will often expect to be judged by their ideas, not their experience. Resumes will become irrelevant (or at best, a meaningless formality that describes your work history, not who you are).
Why are some employers and recruiters coming to see tools like blogs as more revealing and authentic than resumes? One blog commenter explains: "Think about it -- a resume is one or two pages, of flat, static information. A blog is an interactive space where you can really see inside of a prospect's head -- their ability to innovate, think, and communicate. You not only find out what they've done for work, but what their passions are, and frankly if they're the type of person you think would fit into your organization."
Another commenter noted that the new generation craves personal contact. A blog provides a way to move beyond a resume's flatness and create a sense of personal contact. When you reader a blogger's work, you often have a sense of knowing him or her even though you've never met.
Lefkow's blog post and indeed the entire discussion of the idea of blogs as replacements for resumes seems to have originated with a post on Scobleizer, the blog of Robert Scoble, who noted that he hadn't needed a resume to get his most recent job and implied that he didn't expect to need one in the future. Scoble also asserted that his Wikipedia entry takes the place of a resume. This brief post elicited 59 comments. Similarly, Adam Darowski in his blog, Traces of Inspiration, submitted an entry entitled The Blog is the New Resume, and Joshua Porter followed with an identically titled post on his blog, Bokardo, both of which generated extensive comments that provide glimpses into a future in which blogs -- or other tools -- might take the place of resumes -- or not.
Darowski wrote, "Wouldn't it be nice to have more than a vague bulleted list of accomplishments before actually picking up the phone to call the person? There is. There's blogging. Blogging is the perfect way for a candidate to give an employer a more detailed sales pitch -- to show they can 'talk the talk' (as opposed to just fill a resume with buzzwords)."
Porter added a five-point list of the advantages blogs have over resumes, including a blog's ability to represent the individual, its archival quality, and the blogger's editorial control over it. One of his commenters noted that the editorial control enables the blogger to go back into archived entries and update or revise them.
Among other pro-blog-as-resume points made by commenters:
- Blogs may reveal more of the job-seeker's essence than a resume can. One commenter noted that a resume "cannot show them my passion, my intellect, my personality, etc.", while another added, "How the hell is [a corporate-speak cover letter and a bullet-point resume] meant to convey my personality and strong work ethos?" Pointing to the future, a commenter said: "Resume[s] will no longer be important -- blogs will be." Another added: "I do get a bit surprised when someone asks to see my resume. I think it's so obsolete. I don't believe that it necessarily has to be a blog, but creating a Web presence seems to me a more effective way of showing potential employers, business partners, or investors who you are and what you've done."
- A blog may be a way for the job-seeker to distinguish himself or herself. The point of not using a resume, a commenter said, is to stand out from all the others -- "creative alternatives to tired and conventional job searching."
- In blog-obsessed industries, not having a blog can be a deficit. Darowski wrote: "Those who don't [have blogs] will be at a disadvantage. Hiring managers will say... "Okay, why does this person not have a blog? Is it because (1) they have nothing to say?; (2) they can't communicate?; or (3) they can't be bothered?"
- Blogs show how well you express yourself. "I think another point to make is how important a blog is for demonstrating one's ability to communicate clearly and articulately -- and to think critically," a commenter wrote. Conversely, if you're a weak writer, a blog is probably not your best showcase.
- Blogs are proving themselves as resume substitutes. Several commenters reported success in getting interviews and jobs through their blogs. "In my experience I have had more positive feedback about my blog in interviews and during the job seeking process," wrote a commenter. "It is a way for an employer to get a snapshot of your personality."Darowski proved his point when he was hired by a new company, whose hiring manager wrote of Darowski's blog,
"While Adam's cover letter and resume provided a telling introduction, his blog was the real page turner. I learned he thinks beyond the immediate problem, he self-motivates, he aggressively educates himself, he aggressively educates those around him, and he's a Red Sox fan. I would have discovered some of this eventually from the interview, the references and various other communications. But in the blog, it all became part of the first impression, helping him stand out from the crowd early on."
Ram Prasad, creator of the MegaLinux blog reported: "I have been fortunate enough to have gotten a job because of my blog."
Not all of those who commented on the Scoble, Lefkow, Darowski, and Porter blog posts agreed that blogs are the best alternatives to resumes -- or even that resumes should be replaced:
- Other audio and video media may be more effective than blogs in conveying the job-seeker's essence. Instead of a blog, one commenter suggested enabling "job seekers to post a short (less than 5-minute) podcast in place of a resume -- It would give hiring managers a MUCH better sense of who they are as a person than a resume can do." This poster coined the novel term "jobcasts." Still another suggested other forms: Vlogs, PodCV, videoCV, a brief outline of your skillset via a video attached to an email. Others eschewed the podcast idea because it still skirts personal interaction. Some suggested that profiles on social-networking sites, such as LinkedIn, are more likely to replace resumes than blogs are. See also our article Are Video Resumes for You?
- The extent to which recruiters are finding candidates through blogs may be exaggerated. While some commenters expressed that recruiters who don't check for a candidate's online presence are not doing their jobs, others, including recruiters themselves commented that recruiters are extremely busy and may not have a lot of time for blog-reading and Internet searches that go beyond sourcing resumes.
- Blogs aren't effective if you don't maintain them. A huge number of blogs are started but quickly abandoned. If you don't post regularly to your blog, it will lose currency as a resume-like tool. As Darowski points out, though, if you're a successful blogger, you'll stand out as more persistent and determined than those who abandoned theirs. "The cream rises to the top," he wrote.
- Blogs don't provide the right information. One commenter quoted Quintessential Careers contributor Maureen Crawford Hentz, manager of talent acquisition at Osram Sylvania, in a New York Times article: "I'd rather not see that part of [job-seekers]. I don't think it's related to their bona fide occupational qualifications." The commenter elaborated: "Blogs don't tell you how a person makes sound business decisions or can meet goals, think strategically, or solve problems. I think it's risky and dumb to assess someone's qualifications based solely on their blog or Internet presence."
- Blogs may work best in certain fields, such as high tech and marketing. In some fields, blogs are the stock-in-trade; in others, professionals have barely heard of blogs. If you're considering using a blog as a resume or supplement to a resume, conduct a search, such as on Google Blog Search, to see how blog-friendly your field is.
- Blogs may violate company policy. One of the best resume-like uses of a blog is to describe the projects you've worked on ("How often do you look at a resume and wonder what exactly the person's role on a project was?" Darowski wrote. "Well, if the person blogged about it then you would have a better idea -- and you would know if the role would fit in with your team."). But many companies don't permit blogging about such details, in part because they don't want the competition to know what they're up to.
- A resume provides structure for employer interactions with candidates in a way that a blog can't. "Dude, a resume is part of a conversation. Why would you be reticent about giving yours to someone?" queried one respondent, to which another commenter retorted: "If someone expects a resume as a foundation for a conversation you are not interested in having, then why submit the resume?" Another poster suggested that the resume helps structure the narrative of the interview.
- A resume is still expected. Writing in his own blog, Joiner said, "Even if your blog rocks, part of being an acquirable 'microbrand' is knowing that when the right opportunity arises, you must be able to capitalize on it without giving your suitor pause to wonder what kind of 'target' refuses to jot down their credentials on paper."
Final Thoughts on Blogs as Resumes
So, bottom line, which should you have -- a resume or a blog? Both, for now. Many in the career field predict the death of the resume, but for now, it's still expected in most job-seeking venues. But a blog, carefully handled, communicates 24/7 to a global audience your personality, passion, expertise, skill in expressing yourself, sense of humor, and often, your fit with a company or industry. While blogs are more embraced -- and even expected -- in some industries more than others, they comprise one more tool that will get your name and expertise out there and boost your job search.
Blogs also have the advantage of what Scoble calls Bloggings's Six Pillars, six key differences between blogging and any other communications channel. Blogs are publishable, findable, social (because the blogosphere is one big conversation), viral (meaning they spread information quickly), syndicatable, and linkable (potentially many other blogs will link to yours). Of these pillars, only publishability and findability apply to resumes.
Read Part II of this article for tips on how job-seekers can create a blog with resume-like elements, along with examples of blogs that function like resumes.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Have you taken advantage of all the many free resume tools, articles, samples, and more that we have in the Resume Resources section of Quintessential Careers?