For Gen-Yers, the Conversation’s the Resume

Mar 9, 2010
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

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 part of a series called News & Trends.
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