The Resume: Its History, Evolution and Future

Argumentation about a resume

The word ‘resume’ is a famous word known by everyone, especially the working class. We all see a resume to be the first requirement, along with a cover letter and an application in some cases for employment. It primarily summarizes your job experience and education—factors mainly used to screen multiple applicants.

Generally, a resume is an essential job-determining factor every employer requires in today’s job market. Hence, no one is new to the term because it is the first requirement anyone will need to secure a job. A resume is commonly called a curriculum vitae (CV, latin for “course of life”). It is a document that contains an employee’s skills, background, and accomplishments.

The resume is the oldest and most long-lasting document determining an employee’s chance of winning a job over multiple applicants. Resumes have been in existence for centuries for applying for work. However, their longevity has made many people question their future. But it will not be suitable to speak about what is coming next for them without starting from the beginning—the history of resumes.

The Origination Of A Resume

The term ‘resume’ stems from the French word “résumé, ” meaning “summary.” There had been various arguments and questions about the origin of a resume. These questions include, who was the first person to use a resume, and when did it happen? Although various names were called, Leonardo da Vinci is credited and known to be the first person to create a resume in the form of a letter.

Leonardo da Vinci was the first person to create a resume, and he did that in the year 1482. As said earlier, da Vinci’s resume was in the form of a letter, and it was sent to a regent in Milan to seek employment. According to written proof, his resume contained his abilities to secure not any job but an engineering job because he was a great inventor of war instruments. Hence, he is responsible for the recruitment or job securing trend that did not fade but continuously became significant over the years until today.

Leonardo da Vinci, the creator of the first known resume in history
Famous statue of Leonardo Da Vinci in Milano (Milano), Piazza della Scala

The term resume has been used since the eighteenth century to describe past events’ summary primarily. But it was first used to serve as a meaning of “personal profile” following the Oxford English Dictionary in a newspaper’s advertisement. This advertisement was in a Lincoln, Nebraska, newspaper in 1926. It demanded that applicants send the resume of their previous business connections in the form of a letter of application.

Resumes were written like that of the originator—Leonardo da Vinci—in a single document before the twentieth century. The twentieth century altered the typical single document of resumes to separate documents. Freestanding resumes in the 1920s were given different terms, such as data sheets and personal profiles. And they constitute a few background information, such as education, skills, and job experience.

Separating documents with different information rather than including all data in a resume with a single record officially started during the first half of the twentieth century. During the first half of the twentieth century, various business correspondence manuals demanded that applicants use their resumes for factual details and their personality information to be in cover letters. From this point, resumes became an instrument or tool for marketing applicants as products.

A resume became a marketing tool for applicants seeking employment. For this purpose, the resume has become a tool of persuasion. The applicant with the most persuading qualifications and abilities wins the job. However, the moment resumes became a persuasion instrument, writers (applicants) began to use a third-person sentence to describe themselves with the absence of pronouns and subjects. What does this mean? It means sentences like “I built instruments for war” are replaced with “Build instruments for war.”

This mode of writing was further explained by an emeritus professor of rhetoric and writing at the University of Texas – Lester Faigley, in his book in 1992. The title of this book is Fragments of Rationality: Postmodernity and the Subject of Composition. According to Lester Faigley, “No one says ‘Maintain power control packages’ except those who wrote the institution’s official discourse or seek to identify with the institution to gain employment.”

The resume is created with content serving as a language to establish a relationship between an applicant and a would-be employer. Lester Faigley says such resume language is” an initial gesture of subservience, like a dog presenting its neck.” However, all the discussed qualities and features of the earliest resume made employers see them as an essential tool for finding an experienced applicant. Hence, it became a significant and crucial job-determining instrument every employer expects from applicants.

A new template of resumes that portrays professionalism became an innovative feature to meet the requirements expected by employers. However, this professional resume was not written by the job candidates but by an association of professional resume writers. These professional resume writers mainly include former secretaries who have adept skills in writing and formatting with a typewriter.

The Golden Age Of Resume Writing: The Rise Of Machines

The golden age of resume writing was in the 1980s and 1990s (early). Then, anyone could format their resume without depending on professional writers. The report of a resume in a professional and standard manner during this age was accessible using personal computers. However, although personal computers made the writing of resumes easy, people find it challenging to discover job ads. The limitations of finding job ads ended in this golden age with the advent of the Internet and email, which was a significant achievement as job ads were visible to everyone.

Once there was a working instrument that nationally brought hidden job ads to everyone’s notice, the writing of resumes became popular. The popularity of resumes leads to an increase in the number of resumes sent to an employer. However, the most significant disadvantage of the ease of sending resumes by email was the large number of resumes sent to employers for a particular job position. Due to a large number of resumes, only a few—at least two out of ten—are read. To deal with this, software was developed to control the flow of resumes. It worked by digitally screening resume documents. Hence, the large number of resumes are shortlisted to a reasonable number that humans could read with ease.

Applicant tracking system

ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) was one of the developed software employers used to regulate the large number of resumes sent by applicants. The ATS was designed to identify specific keywords primarily. Documents that did not contain the required keywords were sieved out. But the earliest version or model of ATS software was not perfect in shortlisting documents because of the significant bugs. Hence, it could not handle some types of documents, such as PDF documents, documents written with serif fonts, and those that included graphic content.

Obsolete Nature Of Traditional Resumes

For a long time, the perfect way to persuasively sell themselves to be noticed by employers as an ideal applicant involves using a resume. Resume writing gradually developed from being a single document to separate documents containing different information—factual and personality information. But this was effective only during the last because our mode of interaction and the way we present ourselves changed as years went by.

The way people present themselves and interact plays a significant role in everything that occurs in a century of age. And by ‘everything,’ we refer to the social, political, and every other field, including the standard resume format used for seeking employment. Moreover, this way is prone to change over time; hence, the way people apply for jobs could change.

The continuous advancement in technology is the most significant factor influencing pop culture. It is responsible for the thick line distinguishing traditional culture from modern civilization. Therefore as time flies, circumstances change, and used-to-be popular cultures and information can become outdated.

Meanwhile, irrespective of age or century, the format and requirements in a resume depend on the employer. You may include various information in your resume while seeking employment, but employers often have to employ criteria. Only applicants that met these criteria are considered.

What Does The Traditional Resume Constitute?

Modern resume template
Modern resume template

The central part of the traditional version of resumes solely emphasizes the applicant’s achievements. And the term “achievement” includes who the applicant is throughout their lives. Put simply, in a traditional resume, applicants will be required to provide a summary of the various roles and duties they have had and the qualifications that will make them suitable for the position they are applying for.

As time went by, the traditional approach of creating a resume was not practical due to the large population of people that applied for a job. Hence, there has to be a way to effectively shortlist such a tremendous amount of resumes for a particular position. However, the software was engineered to sieve out many applicants, leaving only a few resumes that the employer can read. Furthermore, the operation of this software was keywords-specific; hence, only resumes with the specific keywords were shortlisted, and resumes that did not meet this requirement were left behind.

That may be unfair because no one knows these keywords, but the employers see this differently. Employers are only concerned about making their search for employees easy. They care about finding someone to occupy the vacant job position in their firms or businesses. Suppose they find a suitable employee for a vacant job position. In that case, they are satisfied irrespective of the great resumes that did not qualify when passed through their keywords-specific software.

Lastly, the other disadvantage associated with the traditional resume approach is the limitation in the medium used for advertising jobs. Therefore, constraints related to conventional resumes and resources for finding applicants gradually make traditional techniques obsolete.

Modern Resource For Finding Applicants

LinkedIn logo

The continuous advancement in technology has a revolutionary effect on everything, including pop culture. It makes complex tasks, such as finding jobs, easier for employers. The Internet has made many things easy. However, the Internet has always been present in the nineties, and there was nothing like social media. Social media has become the most significant resource for finding job seekers with the best qualifications that meet various business interview criteria.

There are various elements under the umbrella of social media and job websites. However, only a few are excellent at finding professionals rather than fun-seekers. Although multiple factors are under the “social media” category, LinkedIn is the best resource for professionals. Professionals often upload their abilities, qualifications, experience, and other professional information and their network to find available job opportunities.

In the job market today, LinkedIn is a famous niche platform that is effective and more relevant than the traditional resources of finding candidates. Although the relevance and effectiveness of LinkedIn may be questioned, the statistics of this platform provide reassurance that can not be found in the traditional resources for creating employee and employer relationships. According to LinkedIn statistics, over seven hundred and six million users were registered on this platform in June 2021. About one hundred and eighty million people are from the United States of America.

The population of users who are mainly professionals—employees and employers—on LinkedIn makes it the best resource recruiters often use to find employees with the qualifications they need in their firms. Hence, LinkedIn is the most famous and influential resource used by almost ninety-five percent of recruiters to find ideal applicants or candidates.

Traditional resumes don’t contain the advanced professional information you will find in those found on LinkedIn. However, the conventional application of jobs is different from the modernized approach. They differ in effectiveness, relevance, and ease of the process. The modern method is easy for employers. It often provides them with the chance to screen every applicant without letting imperfect keyword-specific software help them choose an ideal candidate.

Another advantage of this professional platform – LinkedIn – is the job networks and opportunities to employees using the platform. The job opportunities it provides are not random but often match the employee’s suitability. How does this happen? The LinkedIn platform is designed to meet the job suitability of every user (employees) depending on their resume. The resumes of each user or employee are created in the form of their profile. These job profiles contain every professional information needed in a resume.

The essence of the professional information on users’ resumes is to link them to job opportunities with requirements and qualifications that match their resumes. There is no single doubt that the use of this modern resource is compelling and relevant and makes screening and searching for job opportunities easier than the traditional approach.

The Effectiveness Of LinkedIn Over Traditional Resumes

From the preliminary discussions on LinkedIn, it is evident that it is a professional platform that mimics traditional resumes in format and structure. However, although LinkedIn and chronological resumes are similar, they differ from each other. For example, LinkedIn allows candidates to express themselves using personal pronouns, unlike traditional resumes.

LinkedIn often introduces various fields in a user’s standard profile to provide the user—a candidate—with opportunities to offer their professional information. In addition, the professional platform is engineered with algorithms to connect job seekers to recruiters seeking their qualifications. Hence, LinkedIn is a company that places the greatest value on what others think of users rather than what these users feel about themselves.

The connection LinkedIn offers is valuable data that job seekers and employers can not find with chronological resumes. The data these connections offer stems from what the users know, whom they know, what their abilities include, and their job experience. These are unmatched and valuable data absent in traditional resumes. Therefore, LinkedIn could match job seekers with recruiters depending on their requirements. Lastly, if you want to make the most from LinkedIn, you need to be a professional in a specific career field. Meanwhile, to achieve this, you will need the expertise of a career coach.

What Does The Future Hold For Resume?

Job search concept

Generally, from the discussion made on resumes, one can tell that their primary role is to serve as a proxy or tool that represents human beings. Meanwhile, they may be effective in showing employers your credentials. However, as a tool for representing humans, they are a poor proxy. Moreover, they are not only an imperfect proxy as traditional resumes but also as modernized resumes—LinkedIn.

They only tell job recruiters about the employee’s credentials and job experience. However, they are silent on the essential factors that define the job positions they seek. What does this mean? It means resumes virtually tell the employers nothing about an applicant’s personality, character, and communication skills. These skills are requisite components every employee must have because they significantly contribute to the firm’s success. But there is no way for employers to find out about these requisite or essential skills by going through the job seeker’s resume because resumes can not provide such vital information.

Resumes appear to have biased and hypocritical features. That is mainly because job seekers often use their resumes to paint only pictures about their work and life history to meet the expectations and requirements an employer refers to as an ideal applicant. This pretense and idiosyncrasies around careers are the primary factors that complicate the effectiveness of finding a perfect candidate with resumes.

Resumes feature a rigid format engineered to organize an applicant’s or candidate’s life, work, and educational experience into a rhythmic structure. However, it is primarily designed to meet the criteria of the job recruiter or pass the scanning software. Therefore, a resume does not portray the authentic image of the job seeker. Instead, they tell employers what the job seeker has achieved in the past rather than what they can do in the near future.

Plans To Eliminate The Bias Nature Of Resumes In Paper Or LinkedIn Formats

Resumes exclude valuable and requisite information but often include personal details against a job applicant. These details include names, home address, educational level, and gender, which may work against a job seeker consciously or vice-versa.

The primary goal of any employer is to hire an applicant with drive, creativity, leadership skills, communication skills, and other essential abilities that set them apart. Meanwhile, resumes make these employers’ goals impossible to achieve. To correct the ineffectiveness of resumes in revealing an applicant’s actual life and work information, the job market is taking steps to restructure resumes by eliminating details that could bias employers.

How will these biases portrayed in resumes be corrected? First, various firms and corporations are experimenting with some new tools capable of determining an applicant’s fit. A variety of assessments are being customized and engineered to primarily identify the requisite skills employers are searching for and report job seekers’ results in easy-to-understand formats. Lastly, an improvement in the pattern-recognition technology will ensure the software that connects ideal job seekers with jobs is effective in a sophisticated manner.

What Then Is The Future Of Resumes?

In the nearest future, resumes will be a document that contains requisite information other than the job seeker’s professional information than the current resume. However, the future of the resume may not be in the form of a resume at all. Instead, it may be a digital dossier that may be blockchain-secured and uploaded to a job pairing engine present globally. This job-pairing engine (global) will be designed to perfectly match job seekers to the various jobs needing their expertise and skills.

Furthermore, the continuous development in technology makes the relationship between job seekers and employers hassle-free. For example, algorithms have been engineered to sort job seekers on social media to match them to suitable jobs based on their profiles’ personal, professional, and other valuable information. As a result, the writing of traditional resumes will soon be rendered obsolete because, in the nearest future, jobs will find job seekers.