The Pros and Cons of Virtual Media-Rich Résumés

Several websites can help with crafting a top-notch résumé, if you use them right.

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"I thought I was posting a good résumé on normal job board sites," relates Kevin Amarose, "but all I got were lots of pitches from sketchy multilevel marketing companies wanting me to pay them money for a shot at making money."

Amarose was like most people who think that they're doing things right, but due to their inexperience, they aren't really sure what "right" looks like.

Résumé writing can be a daunting task. If you've been in the workforce for a long time, how do you compress an entire career into a page or two? If you're just finishing school and launching a career, what more is there to say than just listing your degree?

Amarose joined a growing number of job hunters who turn to online sites that assist with creating a virtual résumé, as well as other aspects of the job hunt. These sites can help people create an alternative to the standard word-processed document, and each has its own feature set: VisualCV, XING and ResumeBucket are just a few options. Many people view LinkedIn profiles as a variant of the virtual résumé, but they really can be much more than that. All these sites allow for pictures and some form of sharing to specific jobs or other social sites. ResumeSocial, as its name suggests, transforms the solitary task of résumé writing into a social activity so that your peers can critique your résumé and make suggestions for improvement throughout the process.

Amarose experienced quick success when he came upon Purzue.com, a startup site that guides the job seeker in building and posting a virtual media-rich résumé. The site prompted Amarose with questions, some of which made no sense at the time. But in retrospect, Amarose credited the information that the questions elicited to his success. He applied to four positions posted on Purzue, got interviews for two, and was hired by Josh Nadel, owner of a New Jersey-based company called Advantage Restaurant Equipment.

For his part, Nadel was tired of being inundated by résumés when he posted positions on major job boards and Craigslist. He was persuaded to post on Purzue and relates, "I got far fewer résumé submissions from Purzue, but the overall candidate pool was of a much higher relevance to my needs. Though the résumés were longer than typical, there was a lot more information, and it was easy to go through them."

Using Purzue, he was able to see Amarose's communications skills in action, which convinced Nadel that Amarose would be a great hire.

Nadel continues: "I felt I knew more of what each candidate had to offer by reading a virtual résumé rather than a traditional word-processed one."

If you're thinking about creating your own virtual résumé, consider these advantages:

1. Online résumés are not constrained in length by the standard one or two pages.

2. Online résumés can often have embedded video, images, audio and portfolio presentations. This can work to your advantage if the media you offer is relevant to the jobs for which you're applying.

3. Just as the media-rich virtual résumé is still in what may be a first wave of adopters, it may be particularly fruitful for people in non-standard careers, or the creative arts with visual and/or audio work product to demonstrate.

At the same time, beware of these potential pitfalls:

1. Online résumés can't be tailored for each company. You may wind up becoming too general to give the specifics necessary for any given job, and you may not get to reorder or tweak the résumé to respond to specific opportunities.

2. If you're going to include video, make certain that it's very high quality in both form and content. Keep your messages brief, under two minutes. Otherwise you will be seen as a rank amateur and do yourself more harm than good.

3. Many employers are reticent to even open résumés with candidate pictures as this can impinge on their efforts to document non-bias for all the various protected classes—race, sex, age, etc. Sites will often offer the employer the option to remove such identifying characteristics from résumés before they're delivered.

4. Online résumés are great bait for identity thieves or those seeking to do other kinds of harm. Beware of providing contact information that can aid them. Don't provide your physical mailing address. You might create a unique email account for use with your online résumés, and keep all other communications away from that account.

To paraphrase the late great movie critic Roger Ebert, "I'll see you online."

Happy hunting!

Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.

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