An online resume is a website like any other, so it’s working away for you 24 hours a day. People can find it via Google and you don’t have to send it to someone for it to be seen (although it’s still a good idea to be proactive). Even better is that people can share it with their colleagues. Compare this with a paper / PDF resume that sits on your desktop. It’s hidden away and not doing you much good unless you send it to someone.
One of the things I’ve learnt about resumes is that it’s a marketing document like any other. Except this time it’s marking YOU. The only problem is that the traditional black and white resume doesn’t market you very well. It ends up sitting on an employers desk with a lot of other black and white documents and has managed to strip away any personal character you may have had. All that’s left is a list of professional details and qualifications. It’s pretty sad if you think about it. But it’s also a huge opportunity. Because if everyone is submitting the same resume, and you’re the only person submitting something different, something with colour, and something with personality, then you suddenly stand out from the crowd. That’s classic marketing and it’s not all that difficult to do with an online resume.
There is a great book by Oren Klaff called Pitch Anything. He talks about the idea of framing and how we’re often put in situations with a bad frame. Recruitment and the traditional resume process is an example of one of the worst frames you can be in. From start to finish it controls the candidate. From how the application must be submitted, what criteria will be assessed, to when interviews will be, to even sitting in a reception with 5 other candidates. The job position is clearly framed as the prize and the candidate is one of many competing for it. Compare this to meeting a prospective employer for lunch where you’re treated as an equal. There’s a completely different dynamic. What does this have to do with an online resume? Well in a similar way, an online resume allows you to break the traditional recruitment frame. From the very beginning your moving the employer to a new medium and this allows you to reframe the engagement. You can now create a path through your website that best presents you. You could include story telling to explain who you are and what you’re passionate about. You can explain what type of employers you work best with and you can even create a call to action, which basically means you can ask the employer to do something. For example, you may invite the employer to have lunch with you and again break the standard recruitment frame. Now think back to the paper resume sitting on an employers desk. Doesn’t it seem ineffective in comparison?
Building an online resume is fast. This is because a resume theme gives you structure. In about 4 pages it lays out all the resume information that you need and all you have to do is fill out some details. It’s so much easier than building a full blown website. As an example, I had a friend who started to build himself an online portfolio using a standard WordPress template. He agonised over every detail and what he wanted to show the world. Six months later and he’s still building his online portfolio. If he simply installed a resume theme he would have something up and running in less than an hour.
Video is a hot topic at the moment online and the general consensus is that if your website doesn’t have video then you should seriously think about including some. This is for a couple reasons. The first is that there is a massive audience for video via sites like Youtube. The second reason is that video gives you a powerful way of connecting with people. When we watch a video of someone we get to know who they are. We see there mannerisms and we hear their voice. We even build relationships with people vicariously via video. And as strange as this sounds we do this every day. Think about TV presenters. You’ve probably never met them, but know things about them and have a stronger relationship with them over a complete stranger. That same principle can work for an online resume. You can tell your story in a way that paper can not. You can explain what led you into this career, where you studied, what you’ve done in the past and what types of employers you work best with. And if you’re worried about scarring away employers by presenting who you really are, don’t be. You’re going to have the same issue in a real life interview, but with more pressure and less control. A video allows you to answer the questions you want to answer, with all the time in the world for edits. The other factor here is that you don’t need to win every job, what you need to do is find a employer who “matches” you, and by using a video you get the real you out there front and center.
If you have a social media following then you may have access to prospective employers, but it’s kind of strange to share a PDF resume via a platform like Twitter. It’s not strange to share a link to a website though, and this is where your online resume comes in. You could for example write a tweet that says,
There are some long term SEO (search engine benefits) which may not apply to everyone, but I thought they were worth mentioning. Imagine an architect who creates an online resume because they are currently working for someone else. In five years time though they decide to open up their own practice and they need to build a website for it. Well if they name their practice after themselves, eg John Smith Architects, then it’s a relatively simple process to swap their resume theme with a new website theme and have a site ready to go. Apart from this convenience though the real benefit is that they can keep the same domain name and the “Google Juice” it may have built up over that five year period. Two of the things that Google will be looking for is the age of the domain name, and the number of other sites linking to it. What this all means is that by simply having an online resume, you may be giving yourself a head start should you ever need to build a full website based on your name. If you add a blog to your online resume this SEO benefit may be even higher and over time you’re building an asset. It’s a really smart idea, and if I had my time over again it’s exactly what I would do. Start small, build a little resume site, add to it over time, evolve it into a full site and when i’m finally ready to open up shop I would have an established website ready to work for me straight away.
This article is part of a series of posts on building and using an online resume. Below are links to those other articles including a listing of some beautiful WordPress themes for resumes, some ideas about how to use them well, and why they are smart idea.