It is often said that in the world of illustration, you may have spectacular illustrations of lions, tigers, panthers and jaguars in your portfolio, but if the art director is looking for someone who can do a leopard, you'll be passed over. It seems many art directors can not imagine that you can do something other than exactly what you've shown them.
With the tight job market in high tech for the last few years, the same is true in hiring technology workers. "Oh, you worked with Visual Studio 6.0? We need people with expertise in Visual Studio 2005."
The problem has many parts. One is that when the job market is tight, hiring companies get lots of resumes, so they can afford to be very selective. Also, they tend to rely more and more on quick resume reviews, often done by software. If the software doesn't find the right keywords in your resume, you're out of luck.
Despite the obvious shortcomings of this, more and more companies are using automated resume submission Web sites, and automatic resume review to thin the herd. So what if people start packing their resumes with keywords to get past these gatekeepers? Will employers start filtering for this, the way search engines do with metatags?
To further complicate matters, some sites let you upload a Word document as your resume, some require you to paste a text resume into an HTML edit box, and some require you to fill out forms that essentially duplicate your resume. Some even require you upload and fill in the form. How dumb is that?
Why don't we have a standard resume format yet ... CVML! (Curriculum Vitae Markup Language). This seems so obvious to me I can't believe I haven't seen it yet. Software could easily parse and interpret XML-based resumes, and formatters could make it look pretty for human consumption. C'mon, all you unemployed engineers! Get busy!