June 25, 2024

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Resumes are often integral to job applications, but as skills-based hiring is on the rise, could they become obsolete?

Srdjanpav | E+ | Getty Images

More often than not, the first step of a job application is submitting your resume.

That’s your basic person details, education, job experience. And perhaps a section on volunteering work, personal interests or skills.

But only if those fit on the one A4 sheet of paper then that is traditionally the limit for a resume.

Slowly but surely though, this looks to be changing as employers are realizing a college degree and related internships don’t always mean they’ve found the right candidate.

Instead, a job seeker’s skills are now key.

A skills first approach

The trend toward skills-based hiring has been accelerating in recent months as businesses are battling with tight labor markets, economic pressures and higher expectations from prospective employees.

In June, LinkedIn data shared with CNBC Make It suggested around 45% of companies had specifically used skills-related data to source new talent over the previous year, a number that appears to have increased since.

“More than 50% of hirers on LinkedIn now explicitly use skills data to fill their roles, and LinkedIn members have added more than 500 million skills to their profiles over the last 12 months,” Adam Hawkins, head of search and staffing for EMEA and LATAM at LinkedIn, told CNBC Make It.

The impact for both companies and applicants could be immense as skills-based hiring expands who can apply for open positions, giving employers more choice of candidates and job seekers more choice of opportunities.

“LinkedIn’s research finds that a skills-first approach can add up to 20x more eligible workers to employer talent pools, and increase the proportion of women in the talent pool by 24% in industries where women are underrepresented,” Hawkins said.

And so, the future of the resume is uncertain. What could it look like and will it even still exist?

Resumes of the future

One thing is clear to experts: Resumes of the future will look nothing like they do now.

That includes both their content and look, Dave Rizzo, talent strategy and operations leader at Deloitte told CNBC Make It. They will include more details that bring candidates “to life” such as “their skills, their impact, their personality, what purpose are they trying to achieve, what’s important to them,” he said.

Strict layout rules are also disappearing quickly, Rizzo added.

“The format of the traditional resume, which leads with a chronology of education, titles/job descriptions, and years of experience, and other resume ‘rules of the road’ are fading away,” he said.

Having a “perfect” resume also no longer means as much to employers as it has done in the past, Julia Pollock, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, told CNBC Make It. The emergence of ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence based tools have made having a strong resume easier, which means they are less valuable and informative to employers. 

“Your resume has to be perfect, but will no longer be sufficient,” she said.

No more resumes?

So if resumes won’t look or read like resumes anymore, could they be replaced altogether?

Deloitte’s Rizzo sees them at least evolving into what he calls “digital dossiers.” Those would be “portable, linked to industry or domain credentials, and can be easily uploaded into a job-pairing engine,” he said.

Pollak from ZipRecruiter foresees a similar development.

“There will be ever more digital analogs, like online job seeker profiles incorporating online degree and credential verification, skill endorsements and recommendations, video elevator pitches, links to multimedia products,” she said.

As traditional resumes become less relevant to employers, new forms of screening processes as part of job applications may also emerge, the experts say.

Pollak suggests businesses will want to meet prospective employees earlier in the recruitment process than they currently do, even if that is just virtually, or add more skills assessments into their hiring approach.

New ways of assessing candidates may also emerge, Rizzo said.

“We could see some interesting evolutions that include a shift away from listing jobs held to emphasizing skills acquired and demonstrating those skills through a greater array of initial screenings that include gamified assessments/simulations, and real-time problem solving activities that translate more directly to the relevant work situations the individual will encounter,” he explained.

References and endorsements could also grow in importance, he added, and become part of Rizzo’s idea of “digital dossiers.”

So while Rizzo does not believe in the future of the classic, traditional resume, he does think some form of document or profile that loosely resembles one will stick around.

Meanwhile, ZipRecruiter’s Pollak is not anticipating the end of a high quality resume.

“A perfect resume won’t become obsolete. Rather, it will become table stakes,” she said. Even if there will be some adjustments to its content or the overall application process.

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