The Resume: The Early Years
The resume has changed drastically over the hundreds of years that have passed since Leonardo da Vinci created the first official resume in 1482.
Originally used as a type of letter of introduction, as it was used by a travelling lord in England in the 1500s, the modern resume first hit its stride in the 1930s.
These early documents were casual, usually handwritten in haste over lunch with a prospective employer.
Even into the 1940s, resumes contained personal information now considered verboten today, such as religious preference, marital status, and even height and weight. But these early documents were still considered optional until the 1950s, when they became standard for most professionals.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the resume changed very little. Typesetting and word processing made resumes look more polished, and demographic information is replaced by personal interests and hobbies. But by and large, the biggest changes in resumes came in the next few decades, thanks largely to the advent of personal computers and the birth of the Internet.
The Resume: PCs Change Everything in the 1980s
The 1980s saw the birth of home digital recording and the proliferation of VCRs. So it makes sense that the first video portfolios were recorded in this decade, and that video conferencing saw a huge boom in this era, peaking around 1985. In 1986, Microsoft released the Rich Text Format (rtf), a universal document type that will eventually make it possible for people to share documents via email without losing any formatting changes.
In 1985, employers were able to run employment background checks on prospective employees via computer. The process was greatly sped up by the use of computers and became a common practice for most employers starting during this era and continuing into the present.
Fax technology became popular in the 1980s, and thousands of hopeful employees began faxing their resumes to employers. This also revolutionised the hiring process, making it possible for people to get their resumes in front of employers almost instantly. Throughout the ’80s, career books and how-to guides for resume writing became a mainstay on bookshelves in stores across the country.
By the end of the 1980s, personal computers were in schools, homes, and businesses across the country. No longer considered a passing fad or a toy for the wealthy or privileged, computers changed the way that average people store and process information. But it isn’t until the Internet takes off in the next decade that the resume really underwent radical changes.
The Resume: Going Paperless (Sort Of) in the 1990s
In 1994, the World Wide Web and the Internet go public, making it possible for people to connect with a global audience with just a few clicks of the mouse. Not surprisingly, career building websites Monster.com and CareerBuilder go live and began linking employers with prospective employees across the country and even the world.
In 1995, emailing resumes became a more popular practice, starting the “paperless” revolution. Also on the cutting edge of technology, electronic digital portfolios were introduced.
These huge changes, taking place mid-decade, saw the biggest strides the resume had taken since typesetting and word processing were introduced a few decades before. But the biggest changes that the resume underwent came just a few years later, when social media sites revolutionised the way we interact with each other.
The Resume: Social Media Changes in the 2000s
In 2000, the dot com boom hit its full stride, and the web 2.0 concept was introduced. This meant that sending information online had become the norm for almost everyone in America. Just two years later, Optimal Resume launched the first interactive resume website.
In 2005, Optimal Resume created an online resume builder, and a year later, they launched a career services suite with DIY video resume capabilities.As social media sites go live, the concept of personal branding became more important. LinkedIn, launched in 2003, became an important professional networking site. YouTube saw its first influx of video resumes in 2007.
Just a year later, in 2008, LinkedIn became the most popular resume website and social media (and its accompanying concept of giving yourself a “brand”) hit the mainstream. SEO and keywords became crucial tools for both employers seeking qualified individuals and career hopefuls looking for the perfect job. During this boom, Vault released its first employer studies.
From 2008 through 2010, resumes changed not only in terms of how they are delivered, but also in the content they contain. For example, the resume objective went out of favour, replaced by the summary or position statement. In fact, by 2010, three crucial changes had taken place: Resumes and letters become sharply focused, and virtual portfolios become mainstream;
• They contain social media links and may have multimedia and visual options,
and are much shorter in length;
• Infographic resumes and digital CVs see a boom.
The Resume: Always Room for Errors
Yet, despite how sophisticated the resume format has become, there will always be a margin for human error – or even stupidity!
Check out these real-life resume bloopers:
• ‘I have lurnt Word for Widows, computor operations and spreasheet progroms.’
• ‘I received a plague for Salesperson of the Year.’
• ‘Wholly responsible for two (2) failed financial institutions.’
• ‘Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.’
• ‘Failed bar exam with relatively high grades.’
• ‘It’s best for employers that I not work with people.’
• ‘Let’s meet , so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my experience.’
• ‘You will want me to be Head Honcho in no time.’
• ‘I was working for my mum until she decided to move.’
• ‘Marital status: single. Unmarried. Unengaged. Uninvolved. No commitments.’
• ‘I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.’
• ‘I am loyal to my employer at all costs….Please feel free to respond to my resume
on my office voice mail.’
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