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Tradition is Dead: The Evolution of the Resume

Our latest Virtual Recruiter Quick Poll asked hiring managers and recruiters across Canada a simple question that the industry’s been asking for a while: Is the resume dead?  To date, the overwhelming majority have answered “No” or “Not yet, but it will be”.

The poll was inspired by a recent article in the Globe and Mail which raised some great points about social media and the recruiting process. With social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook dominating the Internet, Recruiters are quickly jumping on board and leveraging them to promote jobs and find top candidates.  As a result, both candidates and companies can find each other, learn about each other, and communicate more frequently. This is obviously no secret and it’s certainly not a new trend, but it begs the question of whether or not the resume is relevant anymore and, if it is, for how much longer?

To answer the question, let’s get really technical. According to, a resume is A short document describing your education, work history, etc., that you give an employer when you are applying for a job; a list of achievements; and a short description of things that have happened. Other than a few rare circumstances, an employer will always want to know about a candidate’s professional experiences and achievements.  Based on the above definition then, logically, it’s safe to say that the resume will not go anywhere; however, you can expect that it will take on different formats than the traditional resume we’re used to seeing.  As a recruiter or hiring manager, it’s important you understand all of these formats so you know what to expect. It would be a shame to pass over a great candidate simply because they don’t have a “traditional” resume.

The Paper Resume

It’s safe to say that this resume is dead, at least in industries like IT or Finance and Accounting where everybody involved with the hiring process should be well-versed with computers and technology.  The paper resume is the one that’s dropped off or mailed in by the job seeker and typically follows that age-old “1-2 page only” rule.  Because of that golden rule, it’s the easiest resume to read, but it’s also the most difficult to screen using automated tools, pass around to colleagues, and store in your Applicant Track System (ATS) for later.  If you’re still accepting these resumes, please stop.I'm unable to read the tattoo

The Electronic Resume

Perhaps the most common one we see today and still very strong in popularity — it’s not going anywhere for at least a few years.  The electronic resume is usually a Word or PDF document and, while some people are still following the golden rule that applies to the paper resume, many more are creating lengthier, more detailed versions of their resume in an electronic format.  The electronic resume has benefits for job seekers and recruiters alike.  Job seekers can easily manage and edit it, submit it to multiple job boards, and email it directly to a recruiter from the comfort of their home office. On the other side, recruiters save the resumes in their ATS, screen them, and forward them on in minutes.  If you’re involved in hiring, the majority of your applicants are most likely submitting electronic resumes, but don’t get hooked up on this traditional format.  There’s a new generation shaking things up.

The Social Resume

As noted above, a resume is simply a way for a job applicant to describe education, work history, and achievements.  This can be done in so many more ways than the traditional format.  Here are a few things we’re seeing:

  • LinkedIn/Social Media: Probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think social.  Some professionals keep their LinkedIn profile more up-to-date and detailed than the electronic resume they sent you.  In fact, they may not even send you a traditional resume, but just a link to their profile.  The advantage of these resumes for a recruiter is that you can seek them out on your own, rather than hoping the all-star candidate finds you.  Detailed profiles are usually filled with keywords so if you have a specific need, you can easily search LinkedIn, or even Google, and the profile should pop-up. LinkedIn profiles may also have references on them already, again, saving you a step.  You can even look up the people who give the references to judge their credibility.
  • Public Resumes: They look like a traditional resume, and may even be in .doc or .pdf format, but you’re not going to receive them directly. Instead, you’ll receive a link.  A link to a Dropbox or Google Drive folder where the file is saved and accessible to everybody.  You can download it for your records, but be sure to keep the link.  When the candidate updates the resume, they’ll only update it in that public folder and may not let you know unless they really want to work for you.  Instead, if you want an updated resume from the candidate, it’s up to you to find it.
  • Websites: It seems like a daunting task, but there are services out there that make building a website easy, quick and free.  Innovative job seekers are taking advantage of these services to create an entire online presence for themselves that give a recruiter insight into their professional experience, skills and interests.  If you receive a web address from a candidate, follow it.  It may be shamefully dull, but it may also tell you more of a story about your applicant than their electronic resume could even start to tell you.

That just scratches the surface of the social resume.  Overall, since job seekers today have access to so many tools and innovations, we need to be ready to accept resumes in any form.  Have you seen any other unique resumes?  What do you think of them?  Would you consider a candidate who submits a social resume?  Let us know; we’d love to hear from you!

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Quick Poll: Is the resume dead?

Social media plays a massive role in all parts of business, including recruiting. According to this recent article from the Globe and Mail, more and more people are wondering “Is the resume dead?” What do you think?

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The Cover Letter – Dead or Alive?

Trying to understand a cover letterThere are mixed opinions about the cover letter from both recruiters and job seekers.  Some claim it’s no longer relevant, others hold that it’s still an important tool for recruiters when evaluating candidates, while others argue that it depends on the situation. May’s Virtual Recruiter Quick Poll asked hiring managers and recruiters if they still look at cover letters and the majority has stated “no” or “sometimes”.

There’s obviously no right or wrong opinion regarding the use of the cover letter.  Most opinions are based on any number of company-specific variables that may include, size, recruiting processes, job requirements or even the industry. Here are some of the more common justifications for each school of thought:

Ditch the Cover Letter
Many recruiters ignore cover letters because they’ve been tainted by so many terrible ones.  They’re generic, filled with fluff, way too long, have spelling and grammar errors and, ultimately, a waste of an evaluator’s time.  For the person screening, those one or two great letters simply aren’t worth the agony of the many awful ones (the brutal resumes are painful enough). For other recruiters, though, it isn’t negative thoughts surrounding the cover letter that prevent them from reading it. They just may never get a chance to see it if their company uses an applicant tracking system or resume screening technology..

We Love the Cover Letter
On the other end of the spectrum, many hiring managers encourage and expect applicants to include a cover letter when responding to a job posting. They believe that a cover letter is the best way to get to know a potential employee and identify those who go above and beyond. A candidate who takes the time to customize a cover letter to the job requirements, personalize it to show their softer skills and edit it to demonstrate their passion is more likely to understand the position and turn into a successful hire.

We May or May Not Look at Your Cover Letter
These recruiters know the benefits of a cover letter, but also believe in the inefficiencies.  That means they’ll only go to the cover letters when it makes sense for a specific job posting.  Perhaps the position requires specific experience and the manager places much less importance on the applicant’s ability to write a professional letter.  In another scenario, the recruiter may narrow the resumes to a short-list based on experience, and then read the top 5 cover letters to see what differentiates each person.  So, although these recruiters don’t evaluate every cover letter, it may still be the key piece that gets an applicant the job.

Anybody who screens applications will have their own thoughts about cover letters and the reasons will be endless.  In the end, it becomes a matter of priorities based on the goals of the company and the position.  What do you think about cover letters?  Do you expect applicants to submit them?  How often do you actually look at them?  Let us know!

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Quick Poll: Do You Read Cover Letters When Screening Applicants

Virtual Recruiter LogoDepending on the article you read online or the hiring manager you speak with, Cover Letters can either be a crucial part to an application or a nuisance that don’t get noticed. As a hiring manager, what do you think? Do you read cover letters when screening applicants? Take the poll below and see others’ results as well!

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The Pros and Cons of Out-of-Town Candidates

Eagle's Virtual Recruiter serviceDo you consider out-of-town candidates when screening through job applicants?  That’s the question we’re asking in this month’s Virtual Recruiter Quick Poll.

Jobs posting often result in a pile of resumes and the easiest way to start cutting them down is by eliminating those candidates who are not from your area.  It’s a strategy that makes sense if you’re recruiting for a junior position with a common skillset, but if it’s a rare job, you should expand your geographical search.

Here are a few considerations when you open recruitment to out-of-town applicants:pile of resumes

  • Screening takes longer: We can all agree that for every great resume, there are many more terribly unqualified ones. When you start looking at people from other cities, your applicants multiply and the screening process gets more tedious.
  • Interviews are more complicated: If phone interviews aren’t already part of your regular screening process, they’ll need to be included.  You want to make sure a job applicant has high potential before asking them to travel for an interview which raises another question — “Who pays travel expenses for interviews?”
  • The start date may be delayed: If somebody has to move, there’s a good chance they won’t be able to start tomorrow.  That can delay your plans but if you find a superstar, it’s worth the wait.
  • Applicants come at a higher risk:  The out-of-towner has more to lose so there’s a higher risk that they’ll back out.  You may end up investing a lot into the interview process and decide you like them only to have the candidate decide that they actually don’t want to move.
  • There’s still risk after you hire them:  What if you have to fire them? That’s awkward and can leave you feeling guilty if your failed employee moved just for your job. Even worse, though, you may end up keeping a terrible person on staff out of guilt.  On the other hand, a hired employee may also not adapt well to the new city and may want to return “home”.

The above points aren’t meant to discourage you, but prepare you for out-of-town candidates.  There are already talent shortages across Canada with signs they will increase, so you will need to open your search criteria at some point.  Regardless of your decision, being open will make the entire hiring process much easier. Make it clear in your job postings if you will or will not be considering candidates from out-of-town.  If you consider out-of-towners, provide information on your hiring process and ask them to clearly state their plans and expectations in their cover letter.

The majority of clients who use Eagle’s Virtual Recruiter service indicate that they would not consider out-of-town candidates, even when applicants are hard-to-find.  This makes for an interesting discussion. Do you consider out-of-town candidates?  If so, how do you manage the process?  If you don’t, why not?  We’d love to hear from you; leave us a comment!

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Screening Candidates on Social Media – Is It Worth It?

Eagle's Virtual Recruiter serviceOver the last 10 years, social media has changed the way we do many things in both our personal and professional lives.  One trend that quickly gained traction in the business world was the screening of the social media profiles of job applicants.  In fact, although the results of February’s Virtual Recruiter Quick Poll don’t reflect it, this study from CareerBuilder suggests that almost 40% of companies are now stalking their applicants online before making a hiring decision.

A recent Workopolis article explained how employers engage candidates on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to look for red flags, including both inappropriate content (ex. illegal drug use, drunkenness, profanity) and simple things like bad grammar.  Employers also can make assumptions about an applicant’s technical abilities based on whether or not they have a social media presence.  While these practices are a good way to understand a potential new employee’s personal life and behaviour, it may not always be an accurate screening mechanism and it can backfire.  Here are a few things to consider when screening your candidates’ social media profiles:


“Never judge a book by its cover” – an important message that applies across our lives, including when screening candidates.  Inappropriate Facebook posts, empty LinkedIn pages and Tweets filled with spelling errors don’t necessarily make a person unqualified for a position.  While it is helpful to get an alternate perspective about a person’s work style through information gathered from their social media profile, it’s important to remember that success in a current position and positive references should also factor in the hiring decision.  As long as a candidate’s social media activities don’t hurt the organization, what they do in their personal time should be considered irrelevant.  Another important consideration when looking through a person’s online history is timeline.  You run the risk of judging somebody based on old information or a lack of maturity.  They easily may have changed their ways by the time they applied to your job opening.

Privacy issues

privacyOnce something is posted to the World Wide Web privacy generally goes out the window, but some governments are stepping in, saying there are some privacy rights to consider.  According to an article written by go2, BC’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner has weighed in on the topic and suggests employers should review privacy laws to ensure they’re not over stepping boundaries.  If an applicant feels their information was collected or used improperly, they do have a right to file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner and that can lead to headaches for your organization.

What does the candidate think?

SurveyA November 2013 study from North Carolina State University found that screening social media accounts can actually alienate potential employees and make it harder to attract top applicants.  According to the study, 66% of job applicants who learned employers had checked them out online felt their privacy had been invaded and were less impressed with the company.  On the other hand, a recent poll conducted by Workopolis suggests that 60% of Canadian job seekers actually consider this to be a normal part of the process and less than 25% would actually think less of their potential employer.

What do you think?  Is it acceptable to screen applicants by reviewing their social media profiles?  If so, how far should an organization go?  Should recruiters ask permission first?  Leave us a comment!

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Resume Screeners Are Here to Stay – How Can You Benefit?

Eagle's Virtual Recruiter serviceTechnology is advancing rapidly with enhancements that help companies increase productivity and efficiency.  Automated Resume Screening tools are one of the largest recruiting technology breakthroughs over the last decade. While November’s Virtual Recruiter Quick Poll results make it clear that not all companies are screening resumes with artificial intelligence, it’s absolutely a trend that’s not going away; therefore, it’s important to understand its implications – for both recruiters and job seekers.


Open positions can get hundreds of applications.  Reading every resume could take hours.  Applicant Tracking Systems that automate the screening process save time, and make it possible to contact the top applicants faster – increasing the likelihood of a hire.

This technology should definitely be leveraged if you have a high volume of resumes coming in, but one important thing needs to be considered: computers aren’t perfect!  Your automated screener is programmed to scan resumes a certain way.  You may have a champion applicant who gets passed over because the resume formatting or file type doesn’t fit the Applicant Tracking System’s standards.  If you depend solely on the automated results, your future all-star could slip through the cracks and be lost forever.

Job Seekers

If you’re submitting your resume, always assume it will be screened by a computer.  That is not going to change, so your best strategy is to adapt.  Here are a few tips:

a computer with a face, arms and legs–       Customize your resume for each job.  That doesn’t mean just planting keywords from the job description into your resume, but providing details about how your experience relates directly to the job.   Resume screeners are intelligent enough to recognize not only keywords, but also the detail surrounding them.  For example, instead of searching for a specific technology or skill multiple times, your resume may be screened based on which technologies you used together or how many years of experience you have with a specific skill.

–       Think beyond the current application.  Most companies won’t dispose of your resume if you’re not a fit for the current position. Instead, your resume may go into a database which is searched for opportunities that may never be advertised.  You are more likely to show up at the top of a search by including more details and keywords.  In fact, you could use the principals of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when writing your resume.  This post from July has a few tips that can help you get started.

–       Worry less about length.  The old rule-of-thumb was to keep resumes short.  In today’s electronic world, page length is immaterial.  If you’re certain your application is being filtered through an automated screening process, add in more details and worry less about length.

–       Keep it simple! Even a long resume must be simple to make it easy for computers to read.  Avoid tables or funny formatting and try to keep your resume in a simple file format, like MS Word.  Computers often have trouble reading PDF files.

–       Depend on more than your resume.  Don’t let your dream job pass you by because your application was lost in technology.  Take the time to follow-up with recruiters – they may take the time to personally review your resume out of curiosity.  Even better, be proactive and start building your network today!  Attend networking events and build relationships with recruiters at your favourite staffing agencies.