The Resume of the Future

Mr Robot
Image via Wikipedia

What will the resume of the future look like?  Considering how many other things have changed in the world of career development, it’s kind of surprising to me that many of the conventions that apply to resumes and cover letters seem to be alive and well.

That’s not to say that some things haven’t changed.  In fact, those same conventions are often what makes an otherwise great application seem dull, generic, and lifeless – and the successful applicants are often those who step outside the ordinary and come up with something unique.  However, I would imagine the core of what a resume actually contains today hasn’t changed much from the time your parents were graduating from university.

As a group, job seekers are currently dealing with a transition that’s neither simple nor comforting.  The current generation of graduating students, for example, is having to come to grips with the fact that the messages about career development they’ve been getting all along from parents, the education system, and society at large, are ill suited to what they’re actually going through, and reflective of a time in the past when things were different.  Coming up with a plan, and implementing that plan on a nice, linear path towards career X just doesn’t work for the vast majority of people.  Instead, they find themselves thrown into a chaotic system in which their great plan, if they even have one, has little to no value, and may in fact be limiting their range of career possibilities.

Looking ahead to the future and trying to imagine what it will be like can be a weird process, and is most often an exercise in futility.  I am reminded of the sci-fi movies and video games of my youth, whose plot inevitably involved humanity either living in domes by the late 90s, or being brought to the brink of extinction by an army of self-aware robots (nice try, Skynet).

If only the future of resumes could be so dramatic!

Let’s look ahead to the year, say 2050.  There are probably at least a few safe bets.

  • Paper resumes will be a relic of the past.  Like newspapers, and sadly also books, they will probably be seen as an inefficient and even laughable waste of valuable resources.
  • Resumes will be extremely targeted and specialized to reflect an ultra-specialized workforce.
  • Resumes will be much more interactive.  We’re just beginning to see this now, with the massive influence things like social media are having on how people present themselves to employers.  Imagine the technology we’ll have 40 years from now – hologram resumes?

Beyond that, it’s an impossible guessing game. If we’re being ruled by machines, there probably wouldn’t be much use for resumes at all – they could just do some kind of brain scan to figure out what kind of role to assign people. Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t have to make all these hard decisions about what to do. Mind you, we’d be slaves to a master race of super-intelligent and powerful robots, but hey – there’s probably worse things that could happen.

Now, a resume and cover letter addressed to a robot overlord – that would be an entertaining read.

Note: this post was written using WordPress’s new “just write” distraction-free writing feature.  I gotta say, it was pretty nice!

*Cross-posted at the Career Services Informer.