A Resume Is So Yesterday. Your Candidates Need Portfolios

I have some ideas as to how I am going to approach this and would like for you to take a look and give me your thoughts.

My response was as usual, “Talk to me first as to what you are thinking and then send me your draft [s].”

The lady I was helping methodically walked me through her thought process and how she was going to take it and transfer it to marketing collateral.

I realized after hanging up that a job search today is beyond anything that we have ever witnessed in years past. The day of just sending out a generic resume is a thing of the past. There is an entire cottage industry that has been built around resumes and LinkedIn bios.

Resumes As Portfolios

I have friends who are former HR professionals who have hung their shingles out as resume writers, or shall I say, designers of resumes. Two of the industry best are Careers Done Write (Debra Wheatman, a Fordyce contributor) and The Resume Crusade (Chris Fields).

Part of my job history was in the design and creative industry, and it was a given that when you interviewed, you had to bring your book (that is, your portfolio).

Design portfolios today come in various forms. Traditionally, they were print-based and something you would carry to an interview to showcase what you’ve done and how you did it. More importantly, they are about your interpretation of whatever it is you did.

Today however, many designers take advantage of the Internet to publish and showcase their work. The positive behind this is that having your work displayed online removes the geographical restraints that traditional portfolios impose on you.

But, even the portfolio has moved beyond design into other areas. If you are in marketing and PR, you should also be thinking about showcasing your work.

Making the Pitch

The young lady I was helping had an approach that was the same as a client pitch. Not only was her resume top-notch, but she had researched the company and made sure to capture their logo onto her documentation. She was able to show her PR and marketing output, but also had a recent video she had produced.

This job search approach is 180 degrees from a few years ago. However, if you think of trying to win over a client, would you just approach with generic documentation or would you try for something that had the “Wow” factor?

Would your collateral leap off the page and majestically inform them that they have the right candidate sitting across the table? If your verbal pitch coincides with your collateral, you have a much better chance to make the finalist list.

The days of thinking that job interview is just to show up, with resume in hand and nothing else, are long gone. If that is what you think a job interview today is about, you are sadly mistaken. That train left that station years ago.

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Your candidates should be spending as much time on an upcoming interview as they would on a major project. Will all your hard work guarantee your candidate the job? Not by a long shot, because there are no guarantees in today’s life.

But this approach, if done right, can move your candidate to the top of the pile.

Making the Cut

The cover page of my friend’s collateral was the main photo that was on her client’s website with her name and the following categories listed:

  • Name
  • Resume
  • Current responsibilities
  • Past experience
  • Contact me

Her resume was beautifully and artistically done. Since she is in marketing, she created a brand sheet under past experiences showing the logo of each company she had been associated with. Under current responsibilities she had snapshots of all the marketing initiatives she had created.

The collateral visually told her story and she was the narrator. My thought was that if I were the one on the other side of the interview, she would have this job. I would want this kind of talent in my stable. I could almost imagine what she would do within our walls if she were set free.

On the other hand, if you simply showed up with just a resume in hand, today, sadly, you will not make the cut.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.