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For Gen-Yers, the Conversation’s the Resume

by Mar 9, 2010, 4:54 pm ET

The Brazen Careerist has launched an interesting experiment in social recruiting, introducing what the site and its founder Penelope Trunk call a “social resume.”

Brazen CareeristAimed squarely at the young Gen-Yers for whom Brazen Careerist was designed, the social resumes allow these early career professionals to offer hints at their potential. Besides all the usual biographical stuff of a traditional resume, these social resumes provide a home for the professional musings and business ideas of the participant.

The announcement of today’s launch says, “The application helps younger candidates compete more effectively by overcoming an unlevel career playing field that gives preference to years of experience, and helps recruiters discover candidates who are on the verge of becoming stars.”

It’s an ambitious goal, and certainly the site has no shortage of Gen Y careerists eager for a showcase. It has 100,000 updates a month, which includes the robust conversations that take place. How many people that translates into is not a number the site shares, though the 600 percent growth suggests the Brazen Careerist is offering its target demographic what it wants.

But this is a well-trod path, with hundreds of  networks vying for participants and dozens of resume replacement and resume makeover sites launching in just the last few years.

LinkedIn and Facebook represent the establishment social networking sites: LinkedIn for business, and Facebook for fun. Granted, neither offers the same sort of stage for a Gen Y careerist as Trunk’s social resume. But both have a huge head start in traffic and brand recognition.

Then there are the resume-reinvention startups like Personavita and VisualCV. These offer flexible resumes that are more portfolio-oriented than what you’ll see on a LinkedIn.

When I discussed these with Penelope Trunk, I was thinking “How are you going to compete for time and attention?” How old school. Sixty seconds on the phone with her and I realized Brazen Careerist is part of the vanguard in new social media recruiting ideas.

There’s still plenty of room for the experiential resume — it won’t be going away anytime in the forseeable future — but as she made clear, the Brazen Careerist and its social resumes are a better portrait of a 25-30 year old than any single-sheet bio.

“The recruiting industry is shifting from search ninjas to those who understand conversations,” she said.

The social resume is not some standalone document, but a living, changing profile of a person. The conversations the members participate in with their Gen Y peers; how they analyze things, explain themselves, and relate are the ingredients of that social resume.

Finding talent in this environment is different than doing a keyword search on Monster or a Boolean search on Google. “It’s a skill to judge people through their conversation,” Trunk explained. “It’s like an interview in that way.”

The Brazen Careerist is, at heart, a social network for the Gen Y professional. There are niche networks for specific careers, locales, pop culture, and even, or should I say, especially for ideas. Read through a few of the posts and you quickly discover the nature of the conversations are more collaboratively helpful than purely observational.

That’s typical of Gen Yers, says Trunk. “They were raised on teams and teamwork. They’re not like the Baby Boomers where everything is a competition.” She also says that this generation is less into the one-on-one discussions of email, than it is social network conversations, yet another manifestation of its team approach.

There is no consensus about the long term effectiveness of social media recruiting generally. I explore that in depth in the March issue of the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership. However, there is no doubt that it is a growing trend and almost certainly should be a part of every recruiter’s toolbox.

Today’s young employees grew up with networks as a natural part of their daily experience. So it’s hardly surprising that they are engaged in professional networking on the scale they are.

As Trunk says in today’s press release, “The new workforce is about knowledge management. So you had better be known for your ideas, otherwise no one will know why they should hire you.”

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Sylvia Dahlby

    This article validates something I’ve suspected for awhile now, and that’s that the traditional resume is dead. And I think it’s a good thing recruiters are looking past what’s on paper to open a dialog with a multi-talented PERSON who may have more to offer than a set of skills and a key-word-packed SEO employment history.

    I also agree that collaboration & cooperation trumps competition in the workplace. Whatever the generation, recruiters would be well advised to seek candidates who “get it” and understand the value of relationships & teamwork.

    What really struck me was the comment about “…an unlevel career playing field that gives preference to years of experience, and helps recruiters discover candidates who are on the verge of becoming stars.” If you talk to any Boomer, they would agree the playing field is unlevel, and argue that it’s stacked in favor of the Gen-Y rising stars.

    And I had to laugh when I read, “There is no consensus about the long term effectiveness of social media recruiting generally.” Maybe that’s because nobody knows how to measure the ROI yet? Surely social media is merely shiny new MEDIA in the toolbox, and it gets used in the media mix as simply another method for branding, sourcing — and NEWORKING, which is a proven effective way for recruiters & candidates to connect since they came down from the trees.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking perspective on a timely topic.

  • http://ReThinkHR.org Benjamin McCall

    While interesting and possibly innovative, I wonder how many employers/recruiters will actually see the use of a “social resume” as valid? Should be interesting.
    How much weight will be given to “experience” vs. “ideas”?

    Twitter: @BenjaminMcCall

  • Ross Clennett

    “..you had better be known for your ideas, otherwise no one will know why they should hire you.”

    I certainly agree that the traditional resume is on the way out but I thought effective hiring was about finding competence and motivation to fit the job and the organisation?

    For anybody interested in the ideas v competence debate I would encourage you to read the Harvard Business School Publishing (2008) article ‘How Does Pixar Do It?’ by Pixar co-founder, Ed Catmull. This is one of the most popular HBS articles in recent years, and with good reason.

    BTW – I am Gen X,

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  • http://sovren.com Robert Ruff

    99% of the time I agree with Sylvia; however, regarding the death of the traditional resume, I have a differing viewpoint:

    So recruiters don’t need resumes? It’s more productive to locate and read long self-referential and self-reverential online materials?

    Just because LinkedIn or any other source now is used to store and manage resume info does not make resumes “dead”. The format and storage location and delivery has changed, and a LOT of other good info is sometimes interwoven or surrounding the traditional data, but the need for traditional resumes has not gone away.

  • http://www.evyenia-wilkins.com Evyenia Wilkins

    Not much is “traditional” these days! That said, there are many elements of a traditional resume that will survive the social media revolution. Namely, the ability to clearly articulate your skills. Ideas are super important in many jobs and will continue to be an important foundation of a professional. But skills are essential: A job = concrete activities that need to be done. You might have an opinion, but not know how to implement it. I agree with Robert Ruff, any innovation in recruiting and resumes must keep both the professional and the recruiter in mind. Especially when considering how much time they’ll need to spend to get something out of your service. Thanks for the article. – @mainwilk

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