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Are Résumés Dying? What the Modern Application Process Looks Like

  By Tom Gizzi, Talent Acquisition Solution Executive for balanceTRAK You know that old joke about h...

Posted by Tom Gizzi, Talent Acquisition Solution Executive on Jun 11, 2019 12:14:12 PM
Tom Gizzi, Talent Acquisition Solution Executive
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By Tom Gizzi, Talent Acquisition Solution Executive for balanceTRAK


You know that old joke about how your parents had to walk 15 miles in the snow to get to school every day? I could tell some version of the same joke, all about writing my résumé on a typewriter. In those days job seekers had to decide how much White-Out we could get away with on a résumé.

The application process has certainly come a long way since then. We’ve moved from paper résumés to electronic ones to—if you’ve been listening to certain people—no résumés at all.

If you ask me, the death of the résumé has been greatly exaggerated. But with the rise of technology and automation, the modern hiring process is going to be have new paradigms we all need to understand.

The Résumé’s New Role

The most important part of any job applicant’s search is the résumé. It’s your representative, really—detailing all the value you can bring to an organization, neatly organized into bullet points.

But applications themselves are changing. Organizations need to embrace the demands of job seekers, who are looking to apply for jobs via smartphones. Here’s the problem: Most applicants won’t have access to their résumé through their smartphone.

Don’t panic! With the rise of social media, many applicants have LinkedIn pages or personal websites that also function as mostly adequate substitutes for the information a résumé can provide. All hiring managers need to do is ask for the résumé as they narrow down their candidates.

See? The résumé is here to stay.

Say Goodbye to Cover Letters

If the résumé’s death has been exaggerated, the cover letter’s farewell has been severely under-reported.

As recruiting becomes more and more automated, fewer people are reading cover letters to begin with, and requiring them of applicants is starting to feel like a waste of time. Applicant tracking systems use keywords to comb through résumés, and soon many prescreenings will also be completely automated.

So why require a cover letter at all? A résumé is a much more reliable source of information about a candidate than a cover letter, and with platforms like LinkedIn it’s possible to get a clearer picture of a candidate than a self-written cover letter can provide.

Don’t Get Me Started on the Thank-You Note Controversy

Whenever people ask me for advice on applying for a job, I tell them not to bother with a handwritten thank-you note. They take too long to travel through our postal system, and with hiring becoming more and more efficient, your letter may get there too late.

But what about a thank-you email or text? Are they a “differentiator” in hiring? There’s been a lot of debate on this subject, specifically regarding the cultural norm of the post-interview thank-you message. Some say they value candidates who write them. Others say such messages shouldn’t matter.

For me? I don’t think there’s any harm in sending a thank-you email or text, but by no means should they be the “differentiator” in your hiring. But organizations should make sure candidates know where to send a thank-you message, and their applicant tracking systems should log this communication so that hiring managers can easily see the message.

It’s always nice to get a thank you. Maybe it’s a message that will brighten your day. But let your data guide your hire—always.

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