Bye-Bye Paper, Hello Resume of the Future

In my last article examining the staying power of paper resumes, we looked at the history of the paper resume and the factors in our recruiting business process which continue to propagate and encourage the use of paper resumes. In this article, we will consider ways to reduce paper today and take a look beyond paper (and its basic electronic counterpart) to new ways of presenting and transmitting basic resume information. First, let’s look at some strategies for reducing the number of paper resumes in the recruiting process:

  • Eliminate mailing addresses on your public website and in newspaper ads. The Internet is widely available in public libraries and schools, as well as at businesses and by the home consumer. There are many who may not have direct Internet access; but where there is a will, there is a way. By eliminating a mailing address you can reduce paper influx. Eliminating it completely is much harder, though.
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  • Provide best practice career websites that incorporate features such as resume builders, attach-resume options, and cut-and-paste windows into the online response process. These options will encourage applicants to communicate electronically.
  • Drive traffic to the corporate website through all acknowledgement communications. This includes acknowledgements of paper resumes (hopefully through an email included on the resume) and emails sent directly to recruiters or central recruiting email boxes.
  • Add electronic management to career fairs. There are two strategies that may help reduce paper at career fairs. One is to work with vendors or schools that pre-collect resumes of registered attendees on portal sites or on CDs and download them into your system. If that is not an option, and to avoid walking home with a box of paper resumes, setup a “quick apply” kiosk at your booth where career fair attendees can just leave some basic information and then receive follow-up emails to provide more information in the future. You can also hand out “job cards” printed with your career website address and your most needed job functions. Fairgoers can carry them home and later be led back to your career website.
  • Set up kiosks for electronic applications at walk-in sites at your facilities. Provide easy to enter screens and instructions for walk-ins to create electronic resumes on the spot.
  • Share resumes with managers electronically. Many human capital management systems have the ability to share candidate resume files with managers and peers electronically. These features should be exploited to avoid paper printouts.
  • Make paperless inviting for the recruiting users of a system by making large monitors available for easy reading on the screen.

From Paper to Talking CVs After you’ve incorporated a fair number of strategies to reduce paper within your operation, you may want to look at what alternatives are available now, as well as those coming in the future that may change the way we think and feel about resumes. With all our varied and convergent systems in the public and private sectors, can resume or CV data become that transportable? Let’s look at some interesting resume ideas that are surfacing as a direct result of advancing technologies. 1. The Profile Much has been written about “profiling” in the past few years. Profiles are available now through many hiring management systems and also used by many job boards, in addition to a traditional resume. Basically, the profile acts as a powerful “standardized” resume, where the same data is requested and collected from all respondents. This approach provides several advantages: recruiters can ask the job seeker what they need to know about their skills and interests as it relates to hiring needs (rather than the other way around), and recruiters can collect information about preferences for the future and make the data searchable and quantifiable at a later date. Examples of data collected on a profile might be “preferred work locations,” “skills and proficiencies” and “preferred salary requirements”. Once profiles are built by job seekers, information about their skills and interests can be updated at any time, and the recruiter is presented with clear, consistent data on each person. One current disadvantage of this technology is that profiles are not standardized across industries, job boards, or recruiting systems. As a result, one candidate may have to make duplicate profiles on several different systems, each with different information. The future of profiling lies in an industry’s ability to create standards that will allow a person to quantify his or her skills in a standard fashion and also update and transport his or her profile to any system desired. This “profile for life” concept could begin as early as secondary school level, where skills are identified early. The person would then simply be updating his or her profile for life ? but such a profile could be used to interact with many educational and career functions. 2. The HR-XML Compatible e-Resume The HR-XML consortium has been working for several years on standardizing data across the HR industry, including benefits, background check, and staffing information (check out the latest information on the new “Competencies Schema” on their website). Early adopters in this area have been a number of job boards that have adopted the consortium’s Staffing Exchange Protocol (SEP) for standardizing job postings on the Internet. Each step taken toward standardizing and adopting this data format brings us closer to a standard and unified protocol for an e-resume on the web. Stated simply, resume data such as name, address and employer can be coded with special tags that allow the data to easily flow from one system to another without custom programming. The implications of this type of resume would be enormous for the cross-transfers of resume data between and among different systems like job boards, HRMs, and HRISs. Similar to an e-business card or e-wallet, job seekers could “own” a properly programmed e-resume with all the HR-XML standard data tags in place, which would seamlessly upload into any standardized private or public system, such as a company’s career website or a job board. The obvious wrinkle here is that it’s much easier to control job requisition data coming from corporations than to have resume data controlled by millions of global individuals. Still, progress is being made. 3. My Web Page Resume This is nothing new to the Internet recruiting sleuth, but many jobseekers have replaced an ivory piece of paper with a multi-colored web page by putting their resumes on private websites. These resumes, with unique URLs, may be great for showing off attributes like web design, animation, pictures, and sample work. However, most recruiters find them cumbersome to work with, as they usually cannot print out well, do not have all the information on one web page, require several clicks to examine someone’s credentials, and cannot be easily incorporated into other systems. One positive note on these resumes is that they are good for hunters of passive job seekers who search beyond resume databases. Web page resumes can provide more information and feel for a candidate than a traditional resume (maybe more than you want to know) and for certain industries can be a very efficient presentation of things like graphic arts portfolios. 4. The Talking CV/Resume Taking the web resume a step further, there are organizations that attempt to transform the resume with into a multimedia format with voice and video. One such organization, Talking CVTM (, started in the UK with software mostly for agencies. Job seekers are invited to be “interviewed” using the talking CV software, which will instantly upload responses to a secure website and then relay them to the client. On the candidate side, as a career tool, job seekers can visit remote assessment centers to create a talking CV. The job seekers are asked standard interview questions, based on role/industry along with traditional CV categories like experience. Their voice and video image is recorded to create the talking CV. The CV is posted online and the owner of the talking CV gives out a private ID and password for others to view and listen. Examples of a talking CV can be viewed at 5. The PDA or “Beamable” Resume Even if you’ve never seen the popular sci-fi show “Star Trek,” you might recall one trademark of it: all written communications were delivered on handheld electronic devices (can you say “Palm”?). There was never a single piece of paper on the set. Data was downloaded and transmitted easily from one alien species’ mothership to another with no conversion issues. Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) or wireless handheld devices and digital phones are already accepting emails from web servers. Making resumes transmittable to these devices is just a matter of reformatting outputs and enabling a more readable version of the resume data on the small screens. If you’ve ever “beamed” a contact from your handheld device to another device, you understand that the data needs to be standardized and aligned from one device to the other. Similarly, “beamable” resumes can be part of the information exchange between handheld devices at a national conference, for example, or between an email server and a device. Certain devices and human management systems can already support this type of information exchange with resume data. 6. Smart Card Resume Smart cards have been around since the 1970s and are used for everything from bank machines to identification and security keys at corporations. The basic smart card is a piece of plastic that contains a microchip that can store data as well as be a microprocessor to transmit to a computer network. Some universities, for example, are using one smart card for multiple uses such as identification, meal plans, library permissions, and debit for purchasing on campus. It’s easily conceivable that resume data could also be stored on a smart card. These cards could then be swiped through a smart card reader for easy downloading into a system. The obvious issues here is that smart card readers are not ubiquitous like CD-ROM drives, both for the job-seeker and the recipient. There would also be the matter of updating and standardizing formats across the industry. Since smart cards have only taken off for certain functions, like banking, it may be a while before we see any real usage of this option. 7. The Business Card Resume Certainly less technical than the smart card, there are ideas out there for simply making a version of the resume to be more of a convenience and a networking tool. This includes literally printing the highlights of your resume on the back of a business card (really a mini-paper resume). During discreet meetings and business functions, a person can easily network with this type of resume to inspire a follow-up phone call by a recruiter or manager. Suggested by Fortune magazine for executives, this would not replace the need for more information, but is a way of introducing resume-type information early on. The obvious disadvantage for a recruiter is that it requires follow-up with real data, whether into a profiling system or electronic resume, and there is no real way for the recruiter to incorporate or use this data systematically. Conclusion With all this new technology in the early adoption or concept stages, will the traditional resume become an obsolete means of career communication? It’s clear that the HR-XML standardization and the adoption of these new standards may play a major role in what will lie ahead for resumes of the future. Globalization, universal Internet usage, privacy laws, and business and private sector adoption speeds will also all contribute to how resumes will shape up for the future. You be the judge.

Gretchen Sturm ( is Knowledge Manager of Services with Recruitsoft, the leading provider of Internet-based recruiting solutions for major corporations. She manages the implementation, eLearning and product knowledge transfer for Recruitsoft's consulting services and global client base. Her career has focused on integrating technology into the full hiring cycle and establishing effective Internet recruiting strategies. Previously, Sturm managed the recruitment technology and online recruiting areas of the Unisys worldwide recruiting team and oversaw recruiting technology and sourcing for CIGNA Corporation's US-based operations.