Web Resumes

Long, long ago, in a place called 1997, both the education and business worlds alike were buzzing about Web resumes. Just to clarify, I’m not referring to the ability to email someone your current resume, or to upload it to an online storehouse of resumes like Monster or Careerbuilder. When I say “Web resume,” I’m talking about creating a Web page that is the “interactive” version of your resume, replete with links, work samples, and other technical wizardry.
Web resumes were going to change the world of employment forever. Paper resumes would disappear forever, and consequently, forests full of trees would be saved. More importantly, desks would no longer be littered with thousands of resumes and hundreds of folders and sticky notes to manage them. Millions of dollars in postage would be saved on the U.S. Postal Service, who would no longer be relied upon for overpriced, slow-motion delivery of the critical documents that shaped our very financial futures. Now, employers would have to go no further than the nearest PC to call up your resume, review in full-color detail your most impressive accomplishments and click an email link to offer you a job. OfficeMax would file for bankruptcy. Mail carriers would have to apply for jobs with long pants. Panic would ensue. Chaos would reign.

Unfortunately, none of that happened. Which is a huge bummer, really, because that all sounded like a pretty interesting change of pace. Not only that, but I had a personal stake in it as well. Back in 1998, the University of Missouri paid my way through graduate school (under the highbrow-sounding “Pulitzer New Media Fellowship,” no less) to teach students how to create wonderful, effective Web resumes. I was a pioneer in this burgeoning art, and besides that, do you know how expensive grad school is? But Web resumes never really caught fire, and now I’m hawking this book online for $19 a pop. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

What happened to Web resumes? They’re still around, and I still recommend you create one (otherwise, I wouldn’t have included this page). But as it turns out, just like in many other areas of life that have become more “computerized,” the result was a drastic increase in printing and paper usage, rather than a decrease. It seems that folks just like to print stuff out, presumably to take it with them on the subway, on vacation, to the toilet, or whatever. Looking back, that seems really obvious (Warning: If you didn’t get filthy rich on Internet stocks, do not look directly back at 1998 for long periods of time. It can cause ulcers).

Yes indeed, people like to print. But most people tossing those Web resumes together (sans an expert Pulitzer-New-Media-Fellow like moi, no doubt) didn’t make them very printer-friendly. They got crazy with big graphics and fonts and colors and shading and bolding and even (gasp!) animation. So when Big Boss Man or Big Boss Woman (this is an equal opportunity site) printed this beautiful screen gem on their standard-issue, black-and-white ink-jet printer, it looked like an absolute mess and ended up in the trash can.

But it’s not just printer-unfriendliness that kept Web resumes from getting big (that can be fixed, and I’ll show you how). Drunk on the possibilities that new technology brings, people got a little too crazy with their newfound power and monkeyed around with their resumes too much. Remember our guiding principle of only including relevant information in your resume? Well, a Web resume, with its ability to link to any site in the world, just begs you to include extra junk.

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