Is the Paper Resume Dead?

This is the 3rd post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.

In January, the Wall Street Journal posed the question “Is the Paper Resume Dead?

As it turns out, the answer is “No.” Using information from HR recruiters and managers, as well as tracking sales of high quality paper stock at Staples, the author concluded that a paper resume is still a necessity, especially at places like career fairs.

Anyone job searching these days has experienced the online application. Some companies no longer even want a resume – they just want your application. But I’ve spoken to candidates who have been called for interviews and been caught off guard when asked for their resumes. Sometimes the online application is available to certain employees in the company, but not necessarily the ones doing the interviews.

It’s a confusing time to be in HR and experience the transition from paper resumes to employees who have a social media presence – perhaps even a brand!

On the one hand, we are advised to thoroughly research our candidates, perform background checks, and look into their past experience as a strong predictor of future performance. On the other, we’re advised not to let many things a candidate has posted on social media influence our hiring decision, given the possibility that the information posted is inaccurate or discriminatory. Further complicating the matter is our current employees, who, if they are involved in the recruiting and hiring process, love to Google and research the candidates as well.

Employees and job candidates also suffer from the same confusion.

Last week, I noticed a surprising post from a seasoned employee and resume coach. He posed a question on LinkedIn, ranting about a performance review that was only a “Meets Expectations” rating. While this employee said all of his supervisor’s comments were favorable, he was completely angered that the overall rating wasn’t an “Exceeds Expectations” as it had been in the past.

When he discussed the 4 page rebuttal he was in the process of preparing for HR, he received almost 25 responses – most of which advised him against posting about his employer in the first place. The question is now closed, but it is not deleted which means that his rant is forever out there for all to see – including future customers, clients and employers.

A professional paper resume – and a professional online presence – are both necessary.

When caught up in the heat of the moment, it feels good to just let loose. If we can stop and ask ourselves “Is it true?” and “Is it kind?” before we post it on line, we may be able to develop an online presence that it complements, rather than competes, with our well-written resume.

A paper resume may “make or break a bid for a job” and an online presence may make or break a career.

About the Author

Andrea Ballard

For 15+ years, Andrea Ballard, SPHR, has brought a unique, common sense perspective to the business of HR. A former HR Director and Training Manager, she advises companies on how to design/implement flexible work life programs to attract/retain top talent. A certified coach, she helps women create a balance between motherhood & career. She is the owner of Expecting Change, LLC, blogs at Working Mother and is on Twitter as @andreaballard.

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