Demise of the HTML Résumé

Online job hunting is changing for information technology professionals, and the traditional résumé may fall victim to that change. Recruiters who work for career-related Web sites say the trend is to have applicants fill out profiles, which are more useful than résumés.

"The profile is really where the industry is headed," says John Elliott, director of customer fulfillment systems at Alternative Resources Corp., a Barrington, Ill.-based company that places IT contractors.

"The profile results in a résumé-like data source that is much more detailed in specific skills and competencies and gives the recruiter a consistent format that matches tightly with the requirements of customer companies," he says.

That's not to say that the e-mail résumé is dead. Profiles are just catching on, and most online IT job-seekers still post résumés on Web sites or e-mail them to recruiters. But recruiters say the new cousin of the traditional e-mail résumé, the HTML résumé, which comes complete with links and graphics, is a step in the wrong direction for IT job applicants.

Recruiters say they don't like résumés created with the Internet programming language HTML because the format takes too long to read. Also, the use of links requires that a recruiter go to the trouble of visiting a Web site to see information that should have been included in the résumé.

"When you are a recruiter, your life is filled with résumés," says Michael Forrest, president of Indianapolis-based JobOptions LLC, which runs the résumé-posting site www.joboptions.com. "A lot of it becomes homework, and recruiters sit at home, having a beer while paging through résumés, trying to screen people out," Forrest says.

"What they want to be able to do is jump quickly to the applicant's most recent position, then jump over to the educational information," he adds. "The more variance there is from a standard résumé, the more difficult it is to compare apples to apples."

Others agree. "The HTML résumé is often no better than a résumé presented in Word or regular ASCII text. It doesn't benefit us as recruiters," says Pam Parker, a human resources consultant at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Career Central Corp., which operates the site www.careercentral.com.

"The reality is that most recruiters aren't there yet for HTML," says Joel Wilkinson, chief career-development specialist at New York-based Career Experience Corp., which offers career advice to IT job applicants. Parker and Wilkinson say no more than 10 percent of the résumés they see are written in HTML.

Recruiters say job applicants gain nothing by demonstrating their prowess with HTML, since it's not a hot IT skill. What's more, the time IT people spend creating HTML résumés may be wasted, because the recruiter generally can't use the information in that form. Most searchable résumé databases are text-only, which means an HTML résumé must be converted to text before being entered into a database.

"We dump résumés into a resource database that uses raw text and doesn't accommodate HTML résumés," Elliott says. "So an HTML résumé must be saved as a text file, which adds another step for the recruiter."

To make matters worse, many client companies expect recruiters to transmit batches of résumés via e-mail. Since many of those clients don't have HTML-enabled e-mail, the HTML either is converted to text or, worse, isn't converted and becomes gibberish, making the HTML tags visible within the text.

"Often, the client is seeing less of the HTML résumé than we are," notes Parker.

The answer for IT professionals is to concentrate on content, says Linda Natansohn, senior vice president of ventures at TMP Worldwide Inc.'s interactive division in Maynard, Mass., which operates the job-posting Web site Monster. com.

"If you are a proficient technology professional, it is going to show in the profile you fill out or in the content of your résumé," she says. "Whether or not your résumé is in HTML isn't going to convince an HR person that you would be a better hire."

Alexander is a freelance writer in Edina, Minn.

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