Is there anything REALLY new about hiring? Yes, and no.

I just read a really interesting article by the CEO of Skillshare global learning community, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, positing that the growth of self-education is eroding the importance of traditional education for people who want to succeed in their careers.  He then goes on to extrapolate about implications for employment:

Employers are hiring for specific, narrow skills that aren’t fully learned in college, and they’re thinking, “What else have you done other than go to college?” when they field monotonously similar resumes. There’s proof of a new anti-resume: my company, Skillshare, as well as Kickstarter, Mzinga, and The Unreasonable Institute refuse resumes from job applicants. Links are the new CVs, portfolios aren’t just for artists anymore, and experience reigns.

Well, I wondered if there really are differences in how the “cool kid” companies hire.  So I did some research.  Here’s what I found:

I found that Skillshare, Mzinga and The Unreasonable Institute’s partners all accept resumes (and even cover letters!), with one small exception that I’ll get into later.  Kickstarter was the only place cited that does not accept resumes.  At the bottom of the posting for open jobs is this invitation:  “Send a little something about yourself to jobs@kickstarter.com , along with links to your work.” 

I wondered what those links could be. Perhaps they are the links that Skillshare asks for even if you get to submit a resume for an open job (e.g. the Senior Designer position on the site on 2/8/13) or if you don’t see a job for which you want to apply.  Skillshare requires your:

  • LinkedIn profile url
  • Twitter handle, and
  • the url for your website/blog/portfolio.

The exception to resume submission at Skillshare was for the PT Customer Care Agent position.  When you apply for that, you can’t upload a resume – you give your LinkedIn profile, Twitter handle and website/blog/portfolio url. Then you answer some questions relevant to the position.

How is all this new? Some is new, some is the same. What’s new is crucial, so pay attention to the recommendations I make.

The same:

  • LinkedIn profiles essentially are resumes delivered online: they list your experience in reverse chronological order, include education, have sections for volunteer and professional affiliations, allow you to list publications.
  • You still need to give a sense of yourself by submitting something in writing – essentially a cover letter.  The questions replace cover letters while serving the same screening function.
  • Portfolios are as old as art itself; these are digital instead of tangible.

What’s new:

  • LinkedIn now is a one-stop shop for a resume, soft reference check (yes, those recommendations and endorsements matter), quick scan of your skills and expertise, examination of some of your actual work product in Projects and Publications, and how you interact online.
  • The Twitter handle.
  • Asking for a website/blog url.
  • Asking questions in an initial application screen out people who are unlikely to succeed and so should not be given an interview.

What this application process tells me is that job seekers in today’s market must:

  • Have a great LinkedIn profile. Make sure it matches and then goes well beyond your resume. Use all the sections to give the fullest picture of your abilities, talents, skills, accomplishments and IMPACT. Get recommendations and accept endorsements.
  • Be active on LinkedIn, to show that you understand its value as a marketplace of ideas, source of networking, place to connect with like-minded people, and hub for learning. Some ways to be active:
    • Endorse people
    • Recommend people.
    • Share articles posted by others that show up in your activity feed.
    • Follow companies.
    • Grow your network of connections.
    • Post articles or items you read elsewhere (most digital media have a little IN share button – use it!).
  • Write concisely and clearly – which comes from editing.
    • If you ever have to answer questions in an on-line application form, please write a draft on your computer and then edit it at least once before posting your response on the site.
    • Find a friend who is willing to edit your stuff.
  • Intentionally have and manage an on-line presence – actively and sensibly.
  • Consider using Twitter.  Contrary to rumor, Twitter is NOT to share what you had for lunch.  It’s to share ideas, news, concepts, inspirational quotes, links to interesting sites. It’s to build new relationships with others who share your interest. If you’re already tweeting, start tweeting sense.
  • Claim your virtual real estate.  Get your own domain and start a blog about topics relevant to your work aspirations, talents, achievements. For blogs, use a template from WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr.

A lot of the world is starting to pay attention to social media and your use of it in your career and job search. So while you still need a resume, make sure it also exists in digital form for those who are looking for like-minded people.