Humans are beings of expression and stories. Early sapiens created languages and words and bonded through storytelling. Over time, as our world evolved it became important to express ourselves and present our skills to earn a living which led to the creation of the curriculum vitae, or CV as we better know it.
Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci created the first professional CV? Take a look at his handwritten CV here.
In the 1950s, the CV became formalised and was expected at job interviews until LinkedIn was launched in 2003, ushering in a new style of presentation. With the advent of YouTube four years later, came video CVs and excitement had just begun.
For too long, almost 50 years, CVs have been staid, almost robotic. When selling our professional worth, we have mostly adopted a placid approach, lacking creativity. But the internet has changed that. “Personal brand”, “online persona” and “internet credentials” are no longer limited to businesses, they have gone mainstream. It is hard to imagine a world without social profiles.
Social media platforms have given us the canvas to sketch the narrative of our lives and be the hero of our stories.
In this piece, I explore if “internet credentials” are replacing the CV and how prospective employees should present their skills.
What are ‘internet credentials’?
A unique combination of skills, experience and personality that you want the world to see online. It can be created on any or all the internet platforms from Twitter, Instagram or even Tinder.
Why build ‘internet credentials’?
Simply because the future of work is about measuring output and acquiring relevant skill sets, not grades or work experience. Folks who have established identities online through their skills and side projects tend to agree. And, if you spend time online, you will observe this trend too.
For tech Twitter leeches, yourproductguy (@MotwaniSuhas) is a household name. He works with PepsiCo and moved to Europe last year. However, he is known online for building The Product Folks, a 15,000-strong community of product enthusiasts and more recently, GrabChai, a 1-1 connection platform for interesting folks online.
“I love the energy, the potential and the opportunities that this space provides. It is a compounding game. Credentials or credibility is when folks see you hustling and eventually achieving what you said you would,” says Motwani, who has close to 7,500 Twitter followers.
Another example is Ravish Bhatia. He is the host of Use Case podcast and contributes to the Turnaround newsletter. Bhatia was grappling with multiple projects when an inclination towards podcasts and the VC and startup space overtook him. He started the podcast and in one of the episodes met his future boss—Deepak Abbott.
He is now a product manager at India Gold, a financial technology company helping Indians meet their savings, consumption and credit needs using gold.
“Twitter is particularly a place for woke communities and helps you network,” Bhatia says. “Great roles are almost always never advertised and people look for candidates from within their own networks and the internet has helped with that.”
Globally, one of the most popular names to have established an online identity and run a successful business (by writing, podcasting and running a writing school—Write of Passage), David Perel is a great champion of building an online GPS for oneself.
And, now with Substack making it simpler to gain an audience with online newsletters, folks like Nathan Tankus, who writes on the pandemic-induced depression, are key influencers who even policy-makers refer to.
“CVs do not efficiently communicate skill sets. For a designer, their Behance profile would be better indicators or for a developer probably their GitHub profiles would,” says Ayush Jaiswal, founder of Pesto Tech, a technology education company.
On creating his own profile, Jaiswal says, “Instead of talking about a particular skill I am good at, I would share a piece of my work with a prospective employer.”
He believes that the Future of Work is to acquire multiple skills and showcase your worth through the work you do.
What are new-age employers looking for?
While this could vary across industries, the answer is “artefacts” of your work. For example, Behance profiles for designers or GitHub for developers or real projects or apps for product managers.
“Relevant experience is the one thing we look for the most. At this juncture, I don’t think it matters much from where a particular candidate has studied. What matters is the kind of expertise and hands-on knowledge they have,” said Kartik Mandaville, founder and CEO of SpringWorks, an HR tech platform that uses blockchain and machine learning.
According to a LinkedIn spokesperson, as virtual hiring practices pick up, internet profiles will be key to showcasing skill sets. These are tough times and job-seekers have to stand out to land a job.
Many organisations still require a CV and where they do, they can be complemented with digital credentials. Prateek Shukla, Founder and CEO of Masai School has some tips:
Do your research: Before penning down your CV, it is important to research and learn about the target roles. List the necessary skills that the employers are looking for and try to highlight those in your CV.
Call attention to achievements: Instead of listing your work duties in the experience section, pick your top three or four big accomplishments in each of the positions you have performed. Wherever possible, include numbers that measure your success for that particular goal or achievement.
You may need more than one resume: One should avoid putting everything on the CV. When you are applying for a position with specific criteria, you may need another version of your CV. Decide on a case-by-case basis and add skills specific to the role you are applying for.
Consider an online supplement: It is always better good give some visual samples of the work you have done. Including a link to your website or a blog page with worthy achievements and insights can make you stand out. Moreover, you should also include internet credentials that demonstrate your practical knowledge.
What if you do not have an online persona?
What happens if you are good at what you do and are not very active online? Sidu Ponaappa, SVP Engineering, GoJek, thinks it can lead to a “discovery problem” and potential employers may be unable to find you.
“My advice is to ask yourself which companies and roles do you want and try to understand the signals of competence in those areas. Generally, they are signals that are hard-to-fake and can make you stand out.” He believes that being active in important outcome-driven circles adds to the candidate’s potential of “being-found” which is equally important to the candidate and the employer.
Is an online identity enough?
“I think they (internet credentials) are an important addition but CVs are still important. Internet credentials are hard to verify and often easy to fudge. Also, I don't think they give a full sense of the arc of a person's career, their motivations and timelines,” says Manish Sabharwal, chairman and co-founder of Teamlease Services, India's largest staffing and human capital firm.
Saravanan (Saran) Balasundaram, Founder and CEO of Han Digital, a talent consulting and fulfllment company, agrees. “Any hiring manager requires a legitimate document to refer to when assessing a potential candidate. That document is non-negotiable for a small company or a large corporate,” says Balasundaram.
He conducted a survey among his clients for this article and found all of them required a CV to even authenticate an applicant’s candidature and internet credentials were good to have but not a must-have. However, they are now flexible with the format and are open to a one-page resume with basic details, but a resume is a must.
As Balasundaram puts it, if seeking a job is akin to running a marathon, one needs a resume to reach the finish line. Safe to say “internet credentials” are great for individual contributor roles where skill sets matter the most, the humble CV continues to hold on its own.