A publication of the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne

Workplace Reboot #1: The changing business of getting that job

Welcome to our new Citizen series on the future of work. Anders Furze seeks out answers to your questions about jobs, opportunities and challenges in the fast-changing workplace.

Words by Anders Furze

Dear Anders,

I’m dusting off my Curriculum Vitae to apply for a new job. But word is that the CV is dead – or dying. Is it? And what comes next?

Yours sincerely,

Confused Applicant

Dear Confused,

Reports of the death of that longstanding job market centrepiece, the Curriculum Vitae, are greatly exaggerated. But like so many staples of fast-vanishing workplace culture, the CV’s usefulness and prospects for long-term survival are now anyone’s guess.

So how do you best showcase your skills and experience to a prospective employer?

“What people don’t get is that they must, must, must have a LinkedIn profile,” says Sharon Marlow, a recruiter at Morgan Consulting. Not that she has yet given up on the CV – rather, she enlists it in a portfolio approach to assessing a job candidate. “I compare a CV to LinkedIn, see that it matches, and then get a feel for the person.”

Marlow notes that research shows recruiters spend a grand total of six seconds looking at a CV – a soul-destroying statistic for anyone who has sweated bullets refining their working life story into a perfect pitch. It’s not a lot of time to make an impression, and if a CV has spelling errors or seems generic, then that’s six seconds wasted.

“I want specifics,” Morgan says. “I don’t want to see that you’re hard-working or you’re proactive. How much money have you made a company? What makes you different to anybody else?”

It’s hard to understate just how important LinkedIn is becoming in certain professional sectors. In 2016, Microsoft paid some $33 billion to acquire the platform.

The reason, as journalist and teacher Tim Dunlop explained in The Guardian earlier this year, is because LinkedIn recognises the reality that few modern workers will spend their careers in the full time employ of one or two organisations. As short-term contracts and part-time jobs become the new normal, LinkedIn “becomes the platform where individuals store their work personas in a searchable, communicable form that endures across a lifetime of work”.

LinkedIn is booming not just because it’s some whizzbang Facebook-for-work. Rather, it’s capitalising on the reality that what constitutes a career is changing. For some industries that change has hit and run – remember newspapers? For others, it’s looming just around the corner – think retail, and the batten-down-the-hatches panic around the potential impact of the arrival in Australia of online behemoth Amazon.com. It is coming for all of us.

Big data and automation are changing so many things about our work, so it’s unsurprising that they’re also changing how we apply for and get jobs. Why would a prospective employer rely on a two-page, highly-selective summary of your work history, when he or she can also mine some of the mountains of data you leave behind on everything from Facebook to Google to your emails?

It’s not a theoretical question. In 2012, the entrepreneur Michael Fertik noted that many of us working in professional fields are now engaged in permanent job searches whether we want to be or not, with prospective employers “researching each of us digitally 24/7/365”. Anyone who’s on LinkedIn and been notified that their profile was viewed by a recruiter or other professional can attest to this.

In that context, your CV begins to look like an increasingly irrelevant piece of a much bigger data puzzle, not all of which you have control over. Just look at the trend of potential employers requesting interviewees hand over their Facebook passwords.

Simply put, the data we’re constantly generating online tells prospective employers an awful lot about us – good, bad and ugly. The advice of the experts is to dive in and hang out your cyberspace shingle, and seize some control over your own narrative.

Further reading:

Your future employer is watching you online. You should be, too.

The resume is dead: your next click might determine your next job.

Big Data – Trying to build better workers.

Managing privacy in the social media age

Do you have a question about the future workplace? A concern about the jobs, opportunities, challenges, skills and cultures shaping up in the rapidly changing labour force? Write to Anders, and he will take your question to the experts: furze.a@unimelb.edu.au

About The Citizen

THE CITIZEN is a publication of the Centre for Advancing Journalism. It has several aims. Foremost, it is a teaching tool that showcases the work of the students in the University of Melbourne’s Master of Journalism and Master of International Journalism programs, giving them real-world experience in working for publication and to deadline. Find out more →

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