Frustrated job seekers (especially younger candidates and new graduates) often question the relevance of traditional resumes. After all, we live in a digital age that allows us to transfer information in a bewildering variety of ways, all with the touch of a screen or the click of a mouse.
So why do mangers and recruiters still rely on these old-fashioned, standardized documents to evaluate candidates and make high stakes hiring decisions?
Here are five simple answers to this question:
1. Because hiring managers are still asking for them. You may think it’s silly for employers to insist on a written resume in a world where technology can surely provide an easier path to the same goals. But when you’re on the job seeker’s side of the table, you don’t get to call these kinds of shots. Employers are still making their own decisions when it comes to the section process, and if they ask you for a resume, don’t expect to be considered for the job without one.
2. Because resumes pack a large volume of data into a short, streamlined document. The organizing principle behind a traditional resume is kind of brilliant, when you stop and think about it. Job seekers in almost every industry imaginable can use a few simple, universal subheadings (work history, skills, etc.) to explain their readiness for almost any imaginable position. If you’re doing it right, you can use this simple format to share the relevant details of your entire working life.
3. Because resumes are easy to compare. For hiring managers, finding a candidate with the necessary experience is only half the battle. By the time that part of the process comes to an end, the applicant pool still might contain dozens of contenders who are all reasonably qualified. This pool will need to be narrowed down somehow, and resumes provide an easy way to line candidates up and compare their relative merits.
4. Resumes are easy to share, exchange, discuss, file away in a database, pull out of the database later, and send to another branch of the company with a single click. It’s not easy to do this with an interview. You can describe your credentials to a recruiter at a job fair, and you can flash your winning smile and hope she remembers everything you’re saying three days later, but it’s easier to just hand her a copy of your resume.
5. Resumes provide candidates with an easy way to show off. Don’t think of resume writing as a chore. Think of it as an opportunity. This blank document is your stage. Own it, and use it to present yourself in a way no other candidate can.
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