The 500-Year Evolution of the Resume
Trying to craft the perfect resume is one of life's more frustrating endeavors. Not only is it not easy to describe mundane work-related activities in colorful terms, but in today's digital age, job seekers have to ensure that their resumes can make it past electronic scanners and applicant-tracking systems.
Such digital filters help hiring managers pare down the voluminous number of submissions that they receive by selecting only those documents with certain keywords or phrases, thereby ensuring, in theory, that only those applicants with desired qualifications are chosen for further evaluation.
If there is one bit of solace to be offered in all this, it is that the struggle to create the ideal resume is nothing new. Putting one's qualifications and accomplishments on paper goes back more than 500 years, according to BusinessInsider.com
Leonardo Da Vinci is credited with developing the first resume in 1482, 10 years before Christopher Columbus set sail on his first voyage west.
Among other trivia, BusinessInsider notes that in 1940 resumes resembled today's Facebook profiles, including information such as age, marital status and religion, before legislation outlawing discrimination based on such qualities put an end to such disclosures.
Further, even as job seekers still struggle with crafting them today, it was 25 years ago -- in 1986, that it was first predicted that resumes would soon disappear, according to RezScore.com, an online tool that evaluates and scores resumes for their effectiveness. (See more about the evolution of the resume below.)
That of course hasn't happened and there's little indication that resumes are going anywhere anytime soon, says RezScore co-founder Sean Weinberg. So it pays to ensure that your document not only looks good but is effective in educating hiring managers about your qualifications.
"The reality is that a resume is just a marketing tool," Weinberg tells AOL Jobs. "The only thing that's got to be consistent is it's got to say who you are, what you've done and that your good at it."
One tip Weinberg offers is to include a professional headline in big, bold type. A professional headline is essentially a concise but powerful description of who you are, such as Award-Winning Sales Professional or Graphic Designer with Long List of Satisfied Clients, examples offered by Pongo Resume, an online resume service.
Today's "state-of-the-art" resume remains a single page, Weinberg says, despite reports that two-page -- or even longer -- resumes are becoming more common. Further, the best resume highlights major accomplishments and features a skills and tools section that incorporates industry-specific key words.
"You have to get into the mind of the hiring managers who can find you," Weinberg says. "Think about how they would run a search and put those words in your resume."
Despite today's digital age, resumes are still being composed as if they will ultimately be viewed as printed documents, he says. Referring to a hard copy of an applicant's resume is still part and parcel of the interview process.
Hiring managers like to hold resumes and be able to write notes on them while talking with applicants, Weinberg says. "[It's something] people are used to."
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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