There’s no question that information in the age before the Internet was limited. Every aspect of our lives was more private. We had to know people personally to truly “know” who they were. Even our professional lives—traditionally summed up in the form of the one-page resume—tended to remain unknown until we had the opportunity to actually show what we could do in the workplace. The resume may have been good at outlining job history, but it certainly couldn’t prove to employers that the person they hired would ultimately be successful in a certain position.
Now, of course, the digital age has turned information inside out, allowing us unbelievable ways to gain insight into the people all around us, whether or not we know them in real life. Social media in particular continues to reveal personal aspects of our lives that may have remained previously hidden. It allows us to fill in details of our work lives, too, revealing whole pictures of ourselves at a time when the professional and the private no longer have strict boundaries.
This new digital reality—this age in which information is unlimited—simply means that some of the key ways we’ve conducted the normal course of our lives have become obsolete. We’ve already seen it in the disappearance of certain technologies that were once revolutionary. Land lines. Desktop computers. Even DVDs.
The key tool we used to rely on in our job search—the resume—is no different in this regard. With IT professionals in particular, it’s a tool that isn’t totally dead but may well be on its way to a resting point in workplace history. As recruiters become more sophisticated in looking for the people who have the highly specialized skills needed for a particular job, they’re realizing a one-page summary of someone doesn’t really cut it anymore. Furthermore, they actually have the specialized software now to mine and aggregate the new frontier of the modern job market. That new frontier, called social media, is extremely fluid with unlimited possibilities for showcasing just about everything about ourselves, including our talents and abilities in our profession of choice. As recruiters continue to hone their abilities to scan these social networking sites and pinpoint the people who possess just the right mix of skills they’re looking for, they’re increasingly unwilling to settle on a finite piece of information such as a resume to tell them who they’re dealing with.
This is why there may indeed come a time when, just like the land line, the resume will become obsolete for IT professionals who want to keep their careers fluid and open to possibilities. For this reason, they have to adopt the mindset that every bit of information about themselves on the Internet is a potential stepping stone in their careers. They need to think about what they’re actually doing with all the information about themselves that’s already out there, and they must think strategically about their online footprint in the future, because recruiters are watching like never before.
The Impact of Social Media
Certain responses from the latest Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) indicate that IT professionals are indeed feeling the impact of how social media has seeped into the maintenance of their careers. Of the approximately 123,000 IT professionals around the world who responded to the survey, which gauges a variety of workplace attitudes across all industries, 44 percent said they were contacted about a potential job opportunity via a social media site within the last year. Sixteen percent said they successfully secured a new job that originated from a social media site or other specialized network. That small percentage is only expected to grow as recruiters refine their methods of searching and validating candidates on social networking sites.
This information also goes to the heart of another reason why recruiters are relying more on social networks these days to find the right people: There are simply more passive candidates who already have jobs than those who have no job at all. This should come as no surprise, considering the scarcity of talent and the correspondingly low unemployment rate in the IT industry. The reality is, in the last two years alone, talent has been extremely hard to find, and that’s been making the jobs of hiring managers and recruiters in the IT field extremely difficult. The majority of these workers probably don’t have resumes out there, and they may not be actively looking for jobs.
That means recruiters have had to think outside the box to find people for critical positions, and they’re turning to social media to find talent, regardless of whether people are actually searching for a job. Mining social media sites for useful information is proving to be a much more effective way to find these candidates instead of relying solely on the old-fashioned resumes posted on job sites.
The implications and outcomes for IT professionals in this new recruiting landscape can be extremely positive if they’re able to use it to their advantage. Recruiters, after all, are using specialized software now that’s capable of “scraping” several social media sites—from Facebook and LinkedIn to more specialized IT networks—to pull out all the information about a person, aggregate it and help them rank IT professionals for either current or future consideration when opportunities arise. Not surprisingly, it’s become a highly technical process, but it’s also allowing recruiters to dig deeper than ever before to get to know an IT professional based simply on his or her digital footprint.
For instance, if a software developer has diligently worked social media to his advantage, perhaps he has joined any number of networking sites on which he has been able to showcase his code, share it with others or contribute his coding expertise to someone else’s project. Perhaps his work has been so well-received that he has gained positive endorsements from others in the industry, validating his skills and capabilities. If a recruiter has a job opening for a software developer like this, she’s most likely using software to identify these specific aspects of this person’s expertise. Without ever having a conversation with the person, she will be able to see specific evidence of the kind of work he’s capable of doing. After all, no one puts code on their traditional resumes, but if a programmer has published it on social media, he’s making it easy for a recruiter to find it and therefore assemble a better picture of who he really is as an IT professional.
The Value of Digital Footprints
Now that recruiters are using these sites to gain insight into technical skills, the in-person interview is becoming much more efficient as well. Hiring managers don’t necessarily have to take the time anymore to discuss in person the capabilities of the candidates because they already know, thanks to someone’s digital footprint. The interview, then, becomes more of an opportunity to gauge soft skills, like the ability of someone to acclimate to the workplace culture and to work with peers. These are important aspects of a potential worker as well, and when the technical capabilities have already been vetted, the in-person interview becomes much more useful in assessing personality and compatibility with the organization.
For now, most of the software that’s allowing recruiters and hiring managers to scrape and aggregate Internet information are really only concentrating on 50 or so social media and technology sites such as LinkedIn and Stack Overflow. But there are literally thousands of sites out there that can help an IT professional establish a top-notch digital profile, and the software designed to pull all this information together will become just as sophisticated.
In other words, this new way of searching for IT talent will only grow more sophisticated and building a repertoire on these sites will become critical for IT professionals. It’s the future of the resume.