Résumés get a technology makeover
Job hunters know the uneasy feeling that often follows sending out a résumé. Time passes with no response, leaving them to wonder if the company even received the résumé, let alone looked at it.Skip to next paragraph
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Fred Donovan is well acquainted with résumé anxieties from his decade-long career as a software engineer. For the past four years, he's worked as a consultant based in Nebraska, bouncing from project to project, constantly reapplying for work. Recently he began to feel constrained by the traditional résumé. "There's no personality to it, just skills," he says. "Everybody has skills, so you really don't differentiate yourself."
To stand out, Mr. Donovan created a "digital portfolio," a cross between a résumé and a personal Web page. Most digital portfolios open with a home page, complete with professional objective, a brief summary of qualifications, and anything else a candidate wants to display initially. From there, employers can navigate the portfolio via menus to see a candidate's experience, education, work samples, letters of recommendation, and even streaming video of the candidate on the job.
While not radically different from a traditional paper résumé, a digital portfolio is potentially more eye-catching and allows for more personal information. A growing number of job seekers are turning to new technologies to spice up their résumés. Still, questions remain whether most human resources departments will welcome such a change.
One of the most receptive audiences to this new résumé format has been the technology industry.
"The better candidates in many areas will have a digital portfolio. Our engineers do that as well as our creative staff," says Jill Kulick, vice president of human resources at CafePress.com, an online custom-printing merchant in Foster City, Calif. Graphic designers use digital portfolios to give prospective employers a taste of their style. Engineers include patented designs or examples of previous projects.
Some job seekers who want help have turned to Protüo, a start-up company in San Francisco that has helped nearly 500 job seekers build digital portfolios. By providing customizable templates, the company saves users from having to build their own Web page for their portfolio. Protüo is also helping employers fill positions by allowing them to search its applicant database as well as create digital portfolios for their organizations.
In addition, the company has created a personality survey that employers can ask applicants to take. Questions gauge whether an applicant prefers group or individual work, flexible or structured tasks, a high- or low-stress workplace, etc. While the survey helps employers determine whether an applicant might be worth hiring, candidates can also access the results. They might learn, for example, that they were only 60 percent as "innovative" as the company wanted, while they were 120 percent as "goal oriented" as required. (Such a candidate might try to improve his or her innovative qualities or look for a company that values goal-oriented workers.)