All about Me… in one page

August 27, 2008

Why is it that we continue to use resumes as an introduction in our search for new opportunities? It’s one page (occasionally two, never more than three) with standard formatting (contact information on top followed by work experience, educational history and a short list of skills) whose sole purpose is to get you in the door, to get you an interview. They are the gatekeepers to employment and they have outlived their usefulness.

I can’t find a history of the resume online anywhere but I think I can make some reasonable guesses about where they came from.

As businesses grew to require hundreds of employees those responsible for making hiring decisions would have needed a tool to help them weed out the applicants to a select few with the necessary and required skills and experiences. The single page resume would have made this process much easier and since these large companies were creating products and services for the newly emerging mass market the remarkability of employees was not necessary or often desirable. Remarkable people upset the status quo. Mass market abhors change and prefers to keep the world and the market stable to ensure sales and profits. Employees in these businesses were little more than cogs in a machine, resources needed to produce whatever it was the mass market required. New jobs and new departments where created to manage these Human Resources and the resume was one of their tools to find the right match for the task oriented jobs that were being created more and more quickly.

This method of finding and selecting personnel worked very well for the decades of mass market dominance. But the internet, niche markets and the Long Tail are changing all that. More and more we’re finding that it’s not enough to just have the skills and experience. We need to be remarkable. We need to be the best in the world (or at least the isolated niche in which you’re invested). If we want to do more than get by we need to stand out and step up.

Resumes get in the way of selling and showcasing your remarkableness. Its static formulation and brevity make it difficult to identify the remarkable beyond the occasional and rare remarkable education or experience. What we do, how we think and what we have to offer is far more valuable now than an Ivy League education or a job in the mail room of a Fortune 500. The resume is designed precisely to obfuscate the remarkable in order to reduce you and your efforts to a single page.

This blog makes for a better introduction than any resume can. It doesn’t list where I went to school (The University of Kansas) or whom I’ve worked for (HOK Sport, Gould Evans Associates, Architekton and more) but it does show how I think and where my interests and passions lay (hint – it’s all about the process). Does this make me remarkable? Not yet maybe, thought some would seem to think so, but it does lay the foundation.