New resume cool? The old-fashioned hard copy?

We all like new and shiny.  Call me nuts—but is it possible the newest and shiniest resume style is the old-fashioned hard-copy?  Somebody poke holes in this please, ’cause I’m trying to figure it out.  I think this warrants some input from the FOT pro-recruiters and readers. (Kris Dunn, Tim Sackett, chime in here!)

So here is the deal.  I went to my desk and a kind soul doing a mail-run grabbed my stack of mail for me.  Sitting on my keyboard was a large manila envelope and tucked neatly inside a hard copy of a resume.  I was intrigued.  I hadn’t seen one of these in so long that it felt fresh.  I don’t know why, but this was the first time in a while I actually looked at the resume and read every word.

After reading, I did go over to my recruiting team to find the candidate also applied via our electronic ATS as well.  A conversation ensued between me and my recruiting team. Come to find out this candidate wasn’t the right match, but a spirited conversation was had and this candidate was given a second, hard look.

What gives?

As an executive level HR pro, I don’t do down-and-dirty recruiting anymore.  Do I interview?  Sure.  But I’m not elbow deep in the ATS, grinding out resume after resume, nor am I attending career fair after career fair.  I have a stellar recruiting team that does that, but for me it is not part of my daily routine.

Some may say, “if I were knee deep in resumes every day I wouldn’t want a hard copy”; too cumbersome.  It’s true I’m not knee deep in resumes everyday but I am neck deep in emails.  I get tons of them for a zillion reasons.  And frankly my friends, I’m a little burnt out of the email grind.  Usually if I get an email resume I do one of two things:  a) forward straight to my recruiters or b) lose it in my email black hole of death.  This is not intentional; its just resume reading may not be my top executive priority that day.

Others may say who cares if I get the resume since I am not the recruiter.  That too is true, but as an HR Exec I still do have influence.  And frankly speaking, to anyone looking for a job, it is still a feather in your cap if you can get your name in front of any executive at my company.  Again, we have influence.

I am not going to suggest hard-copy resumes only nor am I going to say that email format is passé.  It is clearly not.  In my situation, likely it was not so much the “hard-copy” alone that intrigued me, but rather it was just a different delivery method from my normal day-to-day.  It stood out.

So what’s a candidate to do?

  • Think from the point of view of the resume recipient.  Who are you sending info to and how will they best view the goods.
  • Getting your name in front of influencers is important.  Find a way; their way is preferable. Some influencers are receptionists, just saying.
  • Follow the application protocol regardless.  If you are instructed to apply via ATS – do it.
  • Go Rogue and keep it fresh.  You have nothing to lose.  After you follow application protocol, send a hard copy, forward a video resume, email me your blog link, send a tout blurb.
  • Entertain me. I’ve yet to see this method fail to get me to at least review their material.

I guess everything old is new again sometimes.

FOT Background Check

Dawn Burke
Dawn Burke (PHR) is VP of People at DAXKO. That's right - the very DAXKO that our very own KD is an alum of because there are only so many people (okay, just one) in the big B'ham who are worthy of that VP of People title. Dawn would be it. Former actor/singer/retail guru, her HR career has spanned the last decade. A true Generalist she’s done a little bit of everything, but recruiting and training is where she gets her mojo. She's based in the good 'ole blogging capitol of the south, Birmingham, Alabama, where you can frequently find her listening to the Beatles and REM, watching tons of Sex in the City reruns, drinking copious amounts of coffee and wine, and wondering how in the world this theatre grad ever got into football or HR…. Talk to Dawn via emailLinkedIn, or Twitter...


  1. I hear recruiters say they love getting a hand written note; which makes me wonder about the “what’s old is new again” as a way to standout. With so much automated and online, could a candidate be seen with a paper resume that’s mailed in to the company on nice resume paper and matching envelope? Or would they be seen as a dinosaur? Hmm, indeed.

  2. Dawn Burke says:

    I think you have to get your name out in several ways. If you are awesome we really don’t care how you get your stuff to us. Now if you are applying for a digital content-type job, if you main resume isn’t in a snazzy electronic or web-based format, that may not be the smartest move. BUT your way of standing out may be send a great web resume (electronic) followed up with a snail mail card inviting me to look. Many options.

  3. Jennie says:

    I’m so glad you said it! I get resumes electronically all the time – only once in a while do I get a hard copy and I have to say – I’m enjoying the hard copies again. I think it shows some effort which I’m just not seeing a ton of anymore. I can’t tell you how many people I interview who come in without hard copies of their resumes or how many people no longer sending thank you e-mails or cards.
    I agree follow the company protocol but it is nice to get a hard copy every once in a while. 🙂

  4. Dawn Burke says:

    Interviewees not bringing in copies of the resume is a head scratcher. Seems a no brainer. Heck-I’ll meet you half-way if you want, whip out your ipad and show it to me. Give it to me on a jump drive when you arrive. Just have something ready. In all fairness, recruiters need to have there stuff together and have copies ready too.

    • Jennie says:

      oh, I totally agree – I always print up copies of their resume and have them on hand and give them to the Hiring Managers but I do think people shouldn’t assume that the company will just pull up everything for you. People should come prepared and offer hard copies of their resumes OR yes, bring their ipad which I’ve had some do but to not bring them at all – I don’t get it.

  5. Barbara Quelch says:

    I sincerely hope this is not a new trend–or at least that candidates will take this tact sparingly as I feel the novelty will wear off very quickly. If you know that the company you are applying to is committed to sustainability, think twice. At the very least, make sure you print your documents double sided on recycled paper.

    I’m much more likely to respond to clever or powerful language in an email than a hardcopy resume which is likely to sit in my very dusty real live inbox . Oh wait a minute; I don’t even have one of those any more.

    Always love FOT. Thought provoking and great dialogue.

  6. Dawn Burke says:

    @barbara – thanks for the comments. One of the reasons someone surprised me with the mail on my desk is I forget to check it! But, it always does make its way to me eventually and in this case made an impact. That being said, my last line likely supersedes all: Entertain me. In this case, the hard-copy did. Tomorrow a video resume may.

  7. PK says:

    As a seasoned recruiter I like to see written resume’s! Yes most of them come via email these days, but isn’t it nice to get a real one on your desk from time to time? I have to say that the youth of today could learn an awful lot from some of the more senior people out there when they’re looking for roles! The amount of resume’s I get across my desk from “20 somethings”, littered with spelling and grammatical errors is beyond belief! Do they not teach these kids to write “business English” at all these days in Uni? To me, a good resume will always go down well and get to the top of my pile first go! Like anything, if what you read does not capture you fully within the first paragraph; you’re on a losing battle thereafter. I’d love to get into the Uni’s and teach some of these grads how to better market themselves to the rest of the world. Imagine how hard it is for a young grad trying to find work after gaining a Degree in today’s market. No experience – but a bucket load of knowledge ready to put into practice. If you can sell yourself and have a good resume showing that, well then you’re in with a chance but, if your resume is written badly and you cannot converse well with people at an interview; well then you’ve got no chance people. Well worth looking up a more senior colleague you know for some pointers on how to conduct yourself at interviews and how to write a good resume! ……. happy to offer anyone guidance here:)

  8. I don’t have a strong preference for receiving resumes one way or the other. I DO like to give applicants the ability to apply either way–via snail mail or electronically.

    But what I have to say, is that I always end up printing out the resumes anyway, if received electronically, because I still like to mark them all up (in red of course), and I like to have hard copies with me to refer to when we are discussing who we want to interview. I’m sure it’s partly because a big part of me is still “old school,” (or perhaps you could say a dinosaur) but shuffling with my email or whatever, on my cell phone, to find the resumes to refer to when we discuss them is just too cumbersome for me, and doesn’t work.

    For the search that I am working on right now, we are having the meeting to discuss who to interview online, so I will be able to find them on my computer, but I still think it will be easier for me to deal with hard copies. Yes, I am printing them all out.

  9. Shannon Vann says:

    As a former hiring sales manager, I expected sales rep candidates to treat the recruiting process from their end like a sales cycle. Get my attention, determine my needs, sell me the solution (themselves), ask for the business. I still believe in that, but as a marketer, I also believe in multi-channel marketing. That’s what your candidate did, Dawn. They hit you on several levels, making themselves stand out! One channel, typically the ATS in this case, just doesn’t cut it anymore. Whether you’re an advertiser or a job candidate, you have to use all available forms of “media” to get across the desk of the right people!

  10. Snizhana says:

    Hi Dawn,
    Really liked this article. Hope you don’t mind me sharing it on LinkedIn.

Comments are now closed for this article.

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