Why it’s time to ditch the resume

Let me tell you a quick story.

It’s 2015 and I’m sitting in an open-faced office, rolling a pencil through my fingers like a drumstick- one of my nervous ticks. Across from me are two young women, probably in their early thirties. Both are sitting perked upright, eyes darting side to side across the page I had just handed them.

This single piece of paper would determine if I would be working in their entry-level marketing position for the summer. I had done the research, knew the brand, and was fully qualified for the position.

All they cared about were the words on that paper.

So there I sat. Waiting.

Finally, one puts it down and smiles. Then the other.

“Mhm so looks good. Why don’t you quickly tell me about this social media account you ran”, the lady on the left says.

“Well..” I paused, twirling the pen in my hand a few times.

I knew the answer. I’d rehearsed it in front of my mirror. I’d said it out loud. It was perfectly crafted in the week leading up to this moment.

My reply was golden.

“Mhm, nice”, says the lady on the right, glancing back down at my resume.

“So, your resume looks good. Do you have any questions?”


Slightly taken back by my sudden lack of interest, the woman on the left says, “We’ll be in touch soon”

Another long pause. Another twirl of the pencil. I shook their hands and walked out. That was that.

In this 25 minute encounter, I came to realize something. This company was hiring a role, not a person. They could probably feel my enthusiasm for their position drift out of the room as this understanding hit me.

I never received a callback.

My resume only offered the tip of the iceberg, mostly professional experience with a few skills and current courses mixed in.

It didn’t tell the whole story.

My Gripe With An Outdated Practice

2018 was a magical year. Artificial intelligence became a household commodity. A thai football team was rescued from a cave by a team of divers racing against time. Advances in virtual reality, the Royal Wedding, 23rd Winter Olympics, you name it.

But my career track still rides on a piece of paper.

Senior year (2017), I took a Business Interviews class because I wanted to learn the secret recipe for a successful interview. Turns out I already knew the ingredients.

Proper positioning of self. Comprehensive research of desired role. Understanding of the companies products or services. And of course, the resume.

One day an HR person came to our class from a respected Chicago advertising agency, and spoke about how she throws away resumes that don’t immediately grab her attention because of the sheer volume she receives. In the blink of an eye you’re out of the running.

To a class of stressed, anxious, and mostly jobless seniors, this was not a reassuring vote of confidence.

Since then I’ve interviewed at one of the worlds big four tech companies. I’ve interviewed for an oral surgeon, over the phone, and at a Starbucks.

We always start with the resume. Going through each bullet that I meticulously crafted to cater to their open position. Answering questions about my resume, referring to my resume, jotting notes on my resume.

I Wish

I could turn back the clock and walk into that office again in 2015. Not because I want the job, everything ended up working out in my favor. But because I want to show them the true qualities that make me a good employee. The qualities that don’t exist on a piece of paper.

I can’t justify on my resume that I work just as hard between the hours of 7–11 pm as I do from 9–5. I am always learning, reading, observing, bettering my craft and growing my mind.

I took a Google analytics test because I was curious.

Subscribed to a Hubspot marketing blog so that I stay in tune with industry shifts.

Spend hours every night writing articles that the world may never see, solely to become a more proficient writer the next day.

My resume doesn’t showcase any of that.

Listen, I understand the role resumes play

In the job hunt and acknowledge too that many companies require cover letters, essays, personal websites and more to better understand who you are.

I simply want it to be a complimentary piece. Anyone can throw buzzwords into a sentence alongside a few stats. It’s easy.

I don’t want interviewers to ask me about my resume in the limited time I have to make an impression.

Question why I get out of bed every morning. Ask what I do between the hours of 7–11pm. Do I lay on the couch and eat potato chips? Or am I spending my time doing something that will benefit this role in the long-run?

Ask me about my hobbies, ambitions, and goals outside of the office.

Resumes focus on experience over skills, highlight fancy job titles, require a proper education and lack personality, yet they still act as the gold standard for conducting an interview.

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, believes that the future of finding talent isn’t in a resume, but lies in more non traditional places.

Speaking at the ASU GSV Summit, Weiner acknowledged that companies need to update the way they’ve traditionally hired people.

“There are qualities… that have a tendency to be completely overlooked when people are sifting through resumes or LinkedIn profiles,And yet, increasingly, we find that these are the kinds of people that make the biggest difference within our organization.”

What do you think?

This article first appeared on Medium.