What’s the Prospect of Job Resume – Will Resumes Be Extinct By 2020?

Brand-Yourself.com has a phenomenal set of regular visitors (if you are reading this, then I am talking about you!).  Some of you comment occasionally, many of you read and share your favorite posts – but I know that all of you have something to add to the conversation.  Starting today, I’d love to see every single one of you begin to share your unique viewpoints via the comments section below.

To accomplish this goal, my next few posts will each pose a question to you, the readers.  Today’s question is:

Will resumes be extinct by the year 2020?

What do you think – will a resume forever be the ultimate proof of your worth to potential employers?  Or will other media prove to be more effective ways to showcase your skills, possibly by 2020 or sooner?  I share my viewpoint below, but since I am neither a psychic or a time traveler, my opinion is merely a guess – please share yours as well.

I believe that by the year 2020, resumes will have joined dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, and dial-up internet in the “fully extinct” category. Personally, I already find an 8.5 x 11 white sheet of paper to be a woefully inadequate representation of a person’s life, career, and skill set.  How can thousands of hours of experience be boiled down to a Microsoft Word document?

Already, 80% of jobs today are not advertised or posted on job boards.  I suspect a large majority of these jobs are filled by candidates with strong existing connections and/or a reputation built and sustained by efforts other than a resume.

The advancement of social and business networks, web profiles, and personal blogs have essentially replaced and upgraded the common resume, in my view.  During the past year, I’ve updated my Linkedin profile dozens of times, I’ve sent over 2,000 tweets, and I’ve updated my resume a grand total of… zero times.  In fact, I don’t even know where my resume file is – maybe somewhere in the My Documents folder between pictures of my dog and an old grocery list?

To be fair, there are still many job openings today that absolutely require a resume.  For these jobs, bloggers like Jorgen Sundberg and Miriam Salpeter are an invaluable resource.  For executive level jobs, there is no question that a perfectly-tailored resume is a near requirement, a specific subject in which Meg Guiseppi carries much expertise. Yet, I can’t help but wonder whether today’s new wave of recruiters and hiring managers will soon start to fill even these roles in a different manner.

I’ve stated my case – but now I want to hear yours.  Fast forward to the year 2020, and envision the job market.  Are jobs still filled via resumes, or has the poor resume seen its time in the sun disappear forever?

Ryan Rancatore can also be found at Personal Branding 101, discussing the tools and tactics that will help you build a killer personal brand in 2010 and beyond.

Ryan would love to connect with you on Twitter at @RyanRancatore, or on Linkedin, Facebook, or Brazen Careerist.


Add yours
  1. 1
    Jim Armstrong

    Ryan, I couldn't agree with you more. Obviously, resumes across different industries will be affected differently, however, like most other forms of communication, resumes will go digital. From an employers perspective, sifting through hundreds, sometimes thousands of resumes is cumbersome and inefficient. The days of papers resumes are soon coming to an end. Job applicants will be able to simply submit a link to job openings where their entire body of work will reside on one neat, clean web page. Nice article and nice call to action.

  2. 2
    Lester Bryant III

    I agree that resumes are going bye bye… but before 2020 as you’ve suggested. I read somewhere that on average a new employee costs $50,000 to train for even the most basic of positons. Anyone can get a resume that appears they are worth that investment. Unfortunately, companies can just take the chance on your resume and interview skills. That Ph.D. who killed 3 because she wasn’t promoted apparently has a long violent history that might have been red flagged with new media but, could never have been uncovered by traditonal resume/vita and background checks. Employers need better more concrete ways of seeing you as you really are and if you are worth their investment.

  3. 3
    Megan Cassidy

    I definitely agree that paper resumes will be dead by 2020. I think with sites like VisualCV and LinkedIn, a person's work is much more accessible. Instead of you distributing your resume to thousands of employers, it's out in the open for employers to look at themselves if they're interested in you as a candidate. They don't even have to ask.

    I also think hiring is moving towards every candidate having a portfolio of some kind. A statement on paper of what you've done, doesn't say much anymore. It's common for architecture or design students to present a portfolio, but I think job seekers are realizing something similar, something tangible–whether it be a blog, published articles, presentations, projects–is really effective at showing what they're capable of.

  4. 5
    Miriam Salpeter

    Ryan – Thanks for the shout out! I agree with you that traditional resumes are difficult for most people to leverage in order to stand out in a crowd. That is why I spend so much time teaching my clients and readers about using social media and other tools to enhance their networks and profiles. A “social” or online resume will become more and more important in many fields, as is what comes up with a Google search.

    Job seekers are well served to use all of the tools at their disposal to approach the job market. It’s a competitive environment, and strong job seekers will rise to the occasion!

  5. 6
    Jörgen Sundberg

    Thanks for the mention Ryan! I reckon resumes are defo being phased out but as with all new stuff, it typically takes longer to adapt then we expect (VHS => DVD => BlueRay is a great example). Old school recruiters still print resumes for a quick skim and then they go straight in the shredder, what a waste of rainforest!

  6. 7
    Paul DeBettignies

    Allow me to be a contrarian…

    While not a fan of the resume, what is the difference between sifting through them or online profiles? I see little difference.

    But my hesitation is this, what about OFFCP guidelines? Will everyone have access to the Internet? If not, they will be disadvantaged.

    Finally, if my corporate recruiter friends are having a hard time with resumes and their ATS how will they manage having to go out and find people?

  7. 9
    Ryan Rancatore

    Thanks for adding these specifics, Lester. Fantastic point that new methods to recruit are likely to benefit the employer in the long run – something I hadn't considered.

  8. 10
    Ryan Rancatore

    Thanks Megan, your point about the portfolio for every job candidate is an eye-opener – if hiring is moving that way, all job seekers today better get prepared in advanced. I'd assume having a portfolio in industries in which it isn't the norm would be a chance for differentiation.

  9. 11
    Ryan Rancatore

    Chanelle – (I'm not a hiring manager, but…) There are a few folks I've met through social networking that I would hire in an instant without ever seeing their resume – there is a “trust” there, you know? Thanks for the comment!

  10. 12
    Ryan Rancatore

    Good point, Jorgen, and I bet the phase-out of standard paper resumes will be different across industries. I'll bookmark this and come back to it in 2020 to see what really happened. 🙂

  11. 13
    Jake LaCaze

    I've thought about this some lately, and I do believe that very soon, resumes will be gone the way of the dinosaur. Already, we're seeing that simply having a resume is ineffective. As social media evolves and develops, people will want something much more personal than a piece of paper. I agree with Lester Bryant that resumes will probably be gone before 2020. I think they're well on their way out as it is. If it's true that 80% of jobs aren't advertised or on job boards, that just shows the importance of networking offline and online.

  12. 14
    Devon Jordan

    Resume's are definitely going the way of the dodo. Like Ryan, I haven't updated my resume in a solid year, and I have started to build my “brand” online. By the time I graduate from CSU Fullerton next summer, I don't see myself submitting a paper resume, because like you said, there is just so much cant be said on a sheet of 8.5×11.

    I think the real push though, will come when we (the workforce) stops submitting resume's, and force companies to change their evaluation methods. I can fake my way through a resume pretty easily, but faking my way through the entire internet, not so much, and that's something that will have to be taken into account in the very near future.

  13. 15

    I do not think the resume will ever die, there is an evolution going on as people move away from the Word doc and into sites that keep the resume 'alive' and dynamic, site like http://www.linkedin.com and http://www.idlogik.com. Employers we all know are using Google et al to search as a back up to ensure that the resume is correct but I feel that it will not die. In essence a resume is a portal to your career any way – a nice summary of what you have done.

  14. 16
    Doug Caldwell

    Yes, resumes can be extinct in 10 years or sooner. What's in play is that rarely does the best qualified candidate get the job, but the best packaged and promoted. Social media in all it's variations can take the place of the resume if they make you the best package and promoted. When I get my resume in front of people who matter that trumps social media. But I will use social media to by-pass the gatekeepers screening out resumes. Try both approaches.

  15. 17
    Jeannie Chan

    I dunno. I still hold to my view that resume would not die anytime soon.

    While 80% are not advertised, when recruiters call about those unadvertised jobs, they still ask for a resume. Though, they probably found you on LinkedIn.

    In addition, that last 20, or 10, or 5% will remain for a long time to come. These are the corporate jobs. Senior management can't even go through a 10-page powerpoint. Everything needs to be summarized for them (executive summaries). Resume is the memo that HR use to summarize you to Senior management. Given that I don't want HR to summarize me for me, I'd rather take that responsibility and write that 1 page summary myself.

  16. 19
    Ryan Rancatore

    You are right, Roland, a resume is a great summary of what you've done. I just have a feeling that by 2020 the job market will be about what you are “doing”, not just what you've “done”.

  17. 20
    Ryan Rancatore

    Awesome comment, Devon. Imagine submitting a resume that is blank besides links to personal awesomeness around the web to display your prowess – would be a risky move, but I'd like to see it tried!

  18. 22
    Ryan Rancatore

    I love to be a contrarian myself, Paul – so I can't fight you TOO much here. I will say that by 2020 I suspect the average “profile” to include tons of video and interactivity (and other stuff we can barely imagine). But who knows, you may be right – we'll see!

    • 23
      Lester Bryant III

      I agree again, Ryan. I believe that probably one of the most important reasons why the resume will disappear will be the evolution of social media. We’ve already established here that s/m is a much better way of evaluating individuals for potential organizational relationships and that media is also in it’s infancy. I would predict that social media among other things will evolve into a form that also verifies that which is being presented. People wouldn’t be able to present false credentials because the format won’t allow. A standard resume will appear useless in comparison. Many of the necessary pieces are already here. Who knows maybe I’m dreaming?

  19. 24
    Ryan Rancatore

    Miriam – You are great at what you do, and I'm certain anyone required to turn in a resume would benefit from your assistance!

  20. 25
    Meg Guiseppi

    Hey Ryan,

    Thank you kindly for the mention.

    When I'm working with an executive on their resume, I'm always quick to explain that their resume forms the foundation for all their online and offline personal marketing communications.

    An actual “paper” resume doesn't come into play in job search as much as it did even a few years ago. That paper document now takes the form of a LinkedIn profile. So the change has been brewing for a while now, driven by the digital age.

    Interactive, multi-media rich tools like VisualCV do a much better job of positioning candidates than a flat document ever could. And popping a link to your VCV into your LinkedIn profile, for one of your “websites”, really packs a punch.


  21. 26

    One facet of this discussion that I didn’t see mentioned is the fact that HR and resume writers still advocate that you not include a picture with your resume to avoid being discriminated against in the earliest stages of selecting candidates. Social media requires you to include your picture in order to have credibility online. With that, if the first look at a person’s credentials is a format that has a picture, what could be the potential impact?

    I don’t have the answer, nor have I found/heard a really good one regarding it. But this question keeps popping up again and again for me…

  22. 27
    Ryan Rancatore

    Great advice as usual, Meg. My takeaway from many comments here and elsewhere is that the resume will live on as a single tool in a toolkit of many – but it will not do the whole job itself.

  23. 28
    Ryan Rancatore

    Mr. Netzzz, I appreciate the reply. I'll just add that I do actually watch Jersey Shore and Teen Mom – so apparently I don't fit into any standard demographic! You might be right about resumes, who knows, will be interesting to see how it plays out.

  24. 29
    Ryan Rancatore

    Fantastic point, Melissa. My first few months on Linkedin I went without a picture because of this notion…but quickly realized the game was just different online. Definitely a gray area.

  25. 30
    Casey Accord

    Ryan, I am in complete agreement that in most cases getting a job is all about your network, not your credentials on a piece of paper. In fact, I just wrote a similar post on this exact subject entitled “Are Resumes Passe?” on my resume-focused blog.

    It seems as if resumes are a formality but, as you mentioned, 20% of positions are still filled the old school way. So until hiring managers figure out another way to evaluate candidates, they're going to continue to be a necessary part of the job hunt.

  26. 31

    Hi Ryan:   I enjoyed your post and totally agree that the resume (as we know it today) will change 

    drastically the year 2020.  I will post your article on my blog Bselected and encourage others to comment directly to you.   Do you plan to post a follow-up? 

  27. 32
    Joseph Wayne Frasier

    Interesting discussion. I have thought about this for quite sometime. There must be the next step, the next evolution of what will become the new “resume” or application.

Comments are closed.