TED Conversations

Gisela McKay

President and Co-Founder, pixcode


This conversation is closed.

Reinventing the resume

So today's task that has resulted in procrastinating on TED has been reading resumes.

I'm not sure whose bad idea the standard resume/cover letter format was but I'd like to slap that person.

Resumes don't tell potential employers what they need to know about you, which isn't just what you have learned and done in the past. I need to know why you did what you did and how well you did it. I need to know about your personality and whether you are a self-starter, whether you generate new ideas, whether you are going to be happy in the position I am filling and get along with the rest of the team. Can you work productively from home? etc.

What can we do to re-think the resume?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 25 2012: Seth Godin (marketing Guru and multiple TED speaker) wrote about this a few years ago:

    "Why bother having a resume?

    In the last few days, I've heard from top students at Cornell and other universities about my internship.

    It must have been posted in some office or on a site, because each of the applications is just a resume. No real cover letter, no attempt at self marketing. Sort of, "here are the facts about me, please put me in the pile."

    This is controversial, but here goes: I think if you're remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn't have a resume at all.

    Not just for my little internship, but in general. Great people shouldn't have a resume.

    Here's why: A resume is an excuse to reject you. Once you send me your resume, I can say, "oh, they're missing this or they're missing that," and boom, you're out..."

    (you can read the whole piece here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/03/why-bother-havi.html)

    I think that we should not only rethink the resume, but the application process as a whole (and in many ways, the hiring process).
    • thumb
      Jan 26 2012: Yeah. the process doesn't really benefit either party at this point.

      If it isn't a position that is financially worth outsourcing to a headhunting company, then it is usually the obscenely over-applied-for kind of job. I'd like to get a better feel for people at that point of contact, because for 90% of applicants, it is the ONLY point of contact.
    • thumb
      Jan 26 2012: Simon, alot of jobs are simply not open to application without sending a resume...

      Lets be realistic... The majority of the population have never been heard of, and wont be remarkable.
      • thumb
        Jan 26 2012: Sure - and I'd also argue that many jobs aren't a good fit for remarkable people.

        Jeffrey F Fox has a great book out there called "How to Land Your Dream Job: No Resume! And Other Secrets to Get You in the Door."

        He talks about tactics like creating your own position at the company you really want to work for and I can attest to it. I've landed several jobs simply by connecting, showing value immediately, and working my way in the door (even when the company wasn't hiring).

        I mostly agree with Seth's sentiment: great jobs, like great people, don't require a resume. There are plenty of mundane jobs for mundane people though.
        • Jan 29 2012: >There are plenty of mundane jobs for mundane people though.

          Well that doesn't exactly help most of us out!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.