What Is a Digital Resume—and Do You Need One?

Published: Feb 15, 2013

 Career Readiness       Job Search       Networking       Resumes & Cover Letters       Workplace Issues       
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by Juliana Weiss-Roessler

A statistic came out a few years ago about how the first thing 70 percent of people do when looking for local businesses is fire up their browsers and head online to do a search. Pretty amazing, right? Not too long ago, Googling something was called “using the Yellow pages,” but now you’re lucky if you can find someone under 30 who knows what the Yellow Pages are.

How does this relate to you, your job search, and digital resumes? It’s pretty simple, really: every single day, more and more of the world is online, and as that trend continues the internet is becoming our de facto first choice of where to go to find things, whether that means the closest deli to our apartment, a quality used car, or someone to fill the position that just opened up at our company.

If you want to make sure that companies can find you quickly and easily, it’s vital that you create a digital resume for yourself. But what does “digital resume” mean, exactly? Here’s where it gets interesting.

The Digital Resume

Because it’s a relatively new creation, there are few strict definitions of what a digital resume has to be. Some people make talking head videos of themselves and post this as their “resume” on YouTube. Others create ambitious, fully-featured websites where they post their work and include gorgeous designs and animations. When it comes to creating a digital resume, the only real limits are your imagination and skillset.

But don’t lose heart if those descriptions make you feel inadequate and unprepared. All “digital resume” really means is that your resume is available online. Employers want to see that you’re web savvy enough to at least put your resume on the internet, because using a computer is pretty much essential in most companies these days. Here are several simple ways to set yourself up with a digital resume just in case a prospective employer asks to see it.

  • Use LinkedIn. Probably the easiest way to get your resume online if you’re not particularly comfortable messing around on the internet, LinkedIn doesn’t require and special knowledge of things like graphic design or web design. It’s also a good choice because LinkedIn is well-respected within the business community, and it allows you to network with past and current colleagues. Their straightforward system provides a form where you can input all of the information that you would use on a traditional resume, including education, work history, and other important facts. The downside is that a lot of people use LinkedIn as their online resume home, so you’re not going to stand out as much.
  • Try an online resume builder. A great way to stand out more without putting in a lot of extra work is to use a free online resume builder, like Career Igniter or Resume Builder Online, that allows you to host your resume on their site. These sites are not only incredibly easy to use, with dropdown menus leading you through each step of the resume-creation process and making sure you don’t forget any important information, they often help with the design of your resume by outputting it to a variety of templates and letting you choose the one you like best. And, of course, when it’s done, most let you both download a copy of your resume and host a copy of it on your own private resume web page. All you have to do is give companies a link and you’re set.
  • Put it on your site. If you already have your own website, hosting it there is a great way to go because employers will automatically see you as someone who knows what they are doing on the web. Meanwhile, all that you really have to do is take five minutes to create the new page and copy or upload your already-finished resume file to it. Just make sure to do a quick test before sending the link out to any potential employers, because you don’t want to direct them to a link that doesn’t work or a resume where the formatting got screwed up. For most people, this is only worth it if you already have a site; there’s no point in spending a ridiculous amount of time building yourself a webpage just to get a receptionist gig.

Ultimately, the main reason that digital resumes are valuable is because companies want you to have one, but they can be helpful in other ways as well. Unlike paper resumes and even digital files, once a resume is online, there’s no real way for you to, um, misplace it, and having one can be quite helpful in a pinch if you have to provide someone with your resume quickly or lose out on a job.

Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a professional resume writer based in Los Angeles. She’s written hundreds of resumes, cover letters, and thank you letters in a wide variety of fields. Learn more at Weiss-Roessler Writing.