Businesses that reach massive scale off of old norms have the biggest responsibility to break the bad ones. LinkedIn has the opportunity to change the resume forever.
A recent conversation from the Military Veterans In Tech Meetup:
Job Seeking Vet: “I started an application for Startup/Medium Company/Small Company but I didn’t know where to include my 4 years military experience. I put it under employment but I wasn’t sure what to put for my Manager’s name, phone number and location of employment.”
Employed Vet: “Ah, I hate that. I just put in “Uncle Sam, 1-888-550-ARMY and The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Applying for jobs is an exclusive experience. Online job applications are setup to accept backgrounds that look like this:
Traditional College/University -> Employment
Resumes services say, if you don’t have the same background that I had, then you’re not welcome here. You can try to squeeze your experiences into our frameworks but you’ll likely be filtered out for not following directions.
The cultural norms of applications are welcoming those who followed the rules and punishing those who are different. There are some incredibly talented people who’s background looks like this:
College -> Military Service -> Employment
or Military Service -> Employment -> College
We support the people who chose to serve our country but we make design decisions that exclude them from our hiring process.
And as MOOCs and skills school grow, we’ll see more like this soon:
Skills Training -> Apprenticeship -> Employment -> MOOC -> Employment
or MOOC -> Entrepreneur (-> Millionaire)
We want non-traditional education to exist but we don’t organize our employment processes to account for them. If you took a 6 months intensive skills class or finished top of your class in a MOOC, it’s not welcome here. You did the work, but it doesn’t fit into our boxes.
There is a chance for change
This week LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner shared his ambition to host more than 3 billion professional profiles and map the world’s economy. The company is already the go-to source for hosting work experience, education and skills in the US. So much so that employers often accept a LinkedIn profile link in an email or submitted through an app, which according to VentureBeat, is among one of the 500,000 unique domains on the Internet right now that offer LinkedIn features using their API.
LinkedIn owns the digital resume and it still sucks.
- Why is education always at the bottom of the page even though higher education happens between bouts of employment?
- Why isn’t there a way to showcase certificates of coursework completed?
- Why isn’t their a separate bucket for military service? It’s mandatory in some countries and it still doesn’t get it’s own box?
- Why do you have to put in a separate box for each title promotion at the same company? Wouldn’t it be more coherent to show progress under one firm?
With over 100,000 developers using the LinkedIn API, their standard, there is a big opportunity to change the landscape of resumes forever.
Becoming the new standard for any old form of media is not an easy task, but when you are the leader setting the rules, make sure you’re taking the time to set them right.
Last wish for the wise
Even if you’re not using LinkedIn for hiring, take a second look at your process to make sure you’re not turning away non-traditional talent before they hit your doorstep.
If you have other examples of how hiring can be more inclusive or of companies who are doing it right, let’s chat in the comments or on Twitter, @br_ttany. Or if you’re looking to work for a startup, see the USV portco job openings here.