Signed, Sealed and Delivered: The Resume

binded spineAlison Green (@AskAManager) ran a post the other day called “Resume Paper is Obsolete.”

It got me to thinking about some of the interesting ways that resumes have been presented/submitted to me:

  • Sent via FedEx; receipt signature required
  • As a “book” complete with illustrated cover and bound with plastic binding spines
  • Laminated
  • In a three ring binder with tabbed sections
  • Handwritten on lined paper which was obviously torn from a notebook
  • In a picture frame
  • A copy of a copy of a copy with the distinctive purpled-tinged ink from a mimeograph machine
  • On an index card

And lest you assume that these occurred back in previous decades I want to point out that they did not.  Handwritten resumes are still a ‘thing’ for some people (I received one in 2013) and the mimeograph resume was received via US Mail within the last several years.

The folks submitting resumes like this are not creative types looking for a way to stand out, be distinctive, and promote their “personal brand.” Rather these are either job seekers who do not yet understand the basics of a job search in 2013 or people who retain hopelessly outdated ideas.  I’ve received resumes in questionable interesting formats from professionals with terminal degrees and from entry-level clerical applicants.  This issue crosses all boundaries.

Are these job seekers taking advice from mom and dad who haven’t searched for a new job for 30 years?  Perhaps great-uncle Fred, who used to be a corporate big-shot in the 1960’s, shared words of wisdom around the Thanksgiving table and job seeking Ashley decided to get her resume bound-like-a-book.

Some of these folks no doubt have an electronic version (or versions) of their resume and can apply for jobs via a company career site or job board.  But that guy who’s still using his last available resume (run off the mimeograph machine in 1985) or the lady who’s handwriting her bona fides in a notebook and putting it in the mail are, more likely than not, going to find it pretty damn hard to even get invited to walk through the door for an interview.

So where is the disconnect?  How do we, who work in human resources or recruiting, train job seekers how to apply for a job?  Someone needs to do something . . . because I’m not up for getting resumes written on index cards in 2014.


  1. Kelly O says:

    I worked for a company that was, until a few years ago, based in a small, East Texas town. They moved nearer to Houston, and this year the company was purchased by another, larger company and everyone at our corporate office was laid off.

    During our transition period, I tried to help some of my coworkers with their resumes, as they had not updated anything in years (if they even had one when they started with our company.) One coworker had gone to University of Phoenix and received an online degree. When I put her resume together, I made a mistake on the degree name, and so she drew a line through it and wrote the correct name.

    I fixed the soft version and emailed it back to her so she could print new copies. On the way home that evening, she stopped at a medical facility in the small town and dropped off the copy with the line and handwritten degree on it. Her words? “Oh, it won’t matter. I’m old school anyway.” I could not convince her that it really would have been better to print a fresh copy and use it.

    Mind you, this was the same woman who felt like the internet was a “waste of time” when it came to looking for work, and who insisted that she needed to print her resume on thick paper and walk in businesses unannounced to request a meeting with the hiring manager.

    It takes all kinds.

    • Robin Schooling says:

      And I’m willing to bet she could never understand why none of these hiring managers was ever available to meet with her when she waltzed in unannounced….

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