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A 20th Century Resume in the 21st Century

By Anita Brady

Resumes will never go away. They serve multiple purposes. Most people think of them as necessary starting points in a job search, which they certainly are. But they can also be used to secure business deals, apply for board positions, or line up speaking gigs. In short, resumes provide a neat way of summarizing your professional experience, skills, and qualifications.


But even though resumes will always be with us, will they always look the same? We have already begun to see changes to the look and feel of traditional resumes, and technology is constantly providing additional bells and whistles to allow us to enhance them even more. Clearly, there are now more options available than the old fashioned paper resume. But if you think the traditional paper resume is completely dead, a recent Wall Street Journal article says otherwise.

The reality is that all formats have their place -- in the right context. Here are a few non-traditional resume alternatives that might work best in certain situations:

The Video Resume

Video resumes are increasingly popular as a digital alternative to paper. In some cases, videos are being used as stand-alone resumes and in many cases as part of a package which also includes a paper resume. A few companies in specialized industries, such as gaming and media firms, are actually asking job candidates to submit videos demonstrating their love of gaming or of the firm’s products.

But you need to be careful---if the production quality is not up to par your chances could be hurt instead of helped. And be sure that the video accurately depicts your professional experiences, skills, and goals.


A visual graphic representation of you and your resume information is another novel approach. Several software tools are available to create quick and creative graphics displaying your education, work history, and skills. Some can draw information from your social media accounts. This format won’t work for all employers but if you are applying for work in fields related to illustration or web design, something like this could be the best way to show off your talents.

The Social Resume

When you think a company is more interested in who you are and what you can do than in your previous experience, a social resume could be just what the doctor ordered. In cases like these, your social networking profile may be exactly what you want your future employer to see. In fact, certain select companies in the venture-capital industry are asking applicants to send links depicting their “Web presence” (e.g., Twitter accounts, web blogs, etc.).

This thinking is based on the realization that a majority of people’s communication is now being done via social media, and a social resume can show what a candidate is like outside of a workplace environment.

So what kind of resume is best for you? The reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. A lot depends on your field and what the trends are in that field. Think about what type of work you are interested in and the type of campaign you plan on conducting to market yourself. Depending on the answers, you may be best served by a traditional paper resume, an alternative high-tech resume, or some combination of both. Remember that trends are dynamic, so it’s best to keep an open mind and always be prepared to develop new options. Old and new are relative terms. Any resume makes sense in the 21st Century -- if it is the right resume for your field.

Senior executive Anita Brady is the President of, a leading provider of a high variety of quality items like business cards, fancy letterhead and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.

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