Tired of sifting through 3-inch stacks of resumes for the perfect candidate?


Granted, job seekers still email resumes, but chances are they may never get seen.

Meanwhile, passive job seeking through social media is becoming more the norm. We’ve got LinkedIn, Viadeo, ZoomInfo. It would take me a week to name half of them.

Why would we continue to send out countless resumes when we could just go onto a job board or professional networking site?

Are we witnessing the slow death of the resume?

James Durbin, founder of socialmediatalent.com, says "not so much."

Perhaps we’ll see the death of a cover letter, Durbin told me, since it often creates more work for the hiring manager.

But it’s highly unlikely recruiters will ever rule out resumes completely.

Durbin is a third-party recruiter and expert in social media marketing. He told me he usually starts with LinkedIn when searching for non-technology job prospects, then works his way through Google and Bing, and sometimes even blogs.

Durbin gave me a brief history of the job search.

It turns out, employers weren’t initially inundated with resumes.

It used to be that we spent an hour or more fine-tuning the documents. We’d type them up, run down to Kinko’s to print off a dozen or so, then send them out to prospective employers in an 8 x 11 manila envelope.

If you were like me and overnighting them, it tended to get a little costly.

Durbin said there was “so much time and care put into it,” people didn’t send them out as often. Therefore, HR didn’t have as many to go through.

Then, “like a horde of locusts,” Durbin told me the email resume descended onto employers. Suddenly, recruiters were receiving hundreds in their inboxes after a job posting.

If the company only needed to fill two positions, that meant 298 more resumes went out to a different employer.

Job boards also created a lot of wasted time for employers, as Durbin said they often see people who don’t actually have the skills the position requires, but are just trying to get in front of a hiring manager.

Applying online is also great, but it tricks the job seeker into thinking they are applying directly to the company, he added.

The industry had to create a way to filter them, and social media was born.

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Durbin asked me if I’ve ever seen what my resume looks like after being printed off email by HR.

I have not, I told him.

He told me that PDF resumes and cover letters don’t often work because they don’t get scanned by the system upon submission. They often end up coming out in a completely different format, and that's if the email itself didn't mutate them during the attachment.

“If candidates actually saw what we saw, they wouldn’t spend all that time on them,” Durbin said.

He said people don’ t understand that job seeking is like an actual job – an 8-hour workday. When people are using job boards as their sole way of applying, he said, “They’ll apply a couple times and go out and play golf.”

They’re assuming they’ll actually get to speak to someone based on their wicked apply-button-hitting skills alone.

“A resume is a signal to the hiring market,” he told me.

If a person on LinkedIn is not actively looking for a job, “it’s a tremendous waste of time” for recruiters, he explained.

Job boards, on the other hand, “tell you who is available, right this second," and companies have to work faster.

Durbin argues that there is still a lot of profit to be made from job boards, as opposed to social networks.

“Social networks can put pressure on job board prices, but they could also cause another growth spurt when social media burnout is reached in the employment space,” he told Forbes.

There's also the niche factor.

"We [social networks] wouldn't exist" if there wasn't a structural recruiting method already out there, Durbin said.

I asked Durbin if any recruiters he knows have ruled out resumes completely.

Nobody has, he replied, and he doubts they ever will.


By the Numbers

  • A recent LinkedIn poll found 88% of recruiters responding still used job boards like Monster to source candidates (see graphic)
  • Corporate Executive Board Co. found that 24% of companies surveyed planned to decrease third-party websites and job board usage this year
  • The same survey found that 80% plan to increase use of alternative methods (referrals, social media)
  • In 2010, 72% of UK IT recruitment professionals' still preferred job boards and recruitment consultants

Tags: Recruiters, Social Media, Advice, Linkedin, Cover letter, James Durbin, Job search, Resumes, SocialMediaHeadhunter, Viadeo, ZoomInfo