Resumes Are So Five Minutes Ago; Check Out the “Digital Portfolio”

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We don’t live in a parchment-and-ink world anymore. So why aren’t our résumés as colorful, interactive and technologically bedazzling as our work?

That’s the premise behind a new business called Protuo.com. I was intrigued by a release they sent me titled, “Résumés Dead as a Dodo; Digital Portfolios Rule.” I usually toss such overwrought declarations, but I’ve long wondered about the future of the résumé in our digital era and so I checked it out.

The idea is pretty neat, at least based on the sample portfolios on the site. Protuo claims to be the “first Web-based career portfolio management service.” Not only is the paper résumé dead, see, so is the whole concept of compiling a list of accomplishments just in time for a job search. The savvy, modern worker should instead keep a constantly updated C.V. online–the better for prospective employers to locate you even before you get bored with the view from your current cubicle.

“We’re all free agents now,” Keenan Hogg, president and CEO of Protuo, tells me. Hogg, who worked in marketing in the wireless industry, teamed up with his father, a longtime HR exec, to launch the new service last week. They hope workers of all ages in industries from consumer electronics to public speaking might make use of the service, which costs $9.99 a month. Protuo is in discussions with employers who would also sign on for access to workers’ portfolios.

The sample porfolios are essentially like simple, cleanly designed web sites devoted to your career. The opening page might feature a handsome photo of you, with a positioning statement, professional objective, preferred job functions and a list of competencies. It’s like a colorful cover letter. Tabs on the side lead to pages listing your education and experience. Here’s the fun part: if you’re in advertising, say, you might upload actual ads onto a page featuring your past work. Another page might feature a job-searching blog authored by yourself.

Why would you pay someone 10 bucks a month when you can create your own web site for the price of a domain name? The point is the convenience, ease and access to employers, says Hogg. The site is offering free registration for a few months, so I tried it out.

Registering is easy. But once I got to the part where I was supposed to design my portfolio, I was completely stumped. A page resembling a Microsoft Word document pops up accompanied by lots of icons labeled Flash Manager and Format Stripper. I had thought the site was designed for HTML dummies like me, but that’s clearly not the case. Elsewhere on the site it says I am supposed to be able to adopt the “skins” of the sample portfolios, which I’d happily do–but I see no option here to do so.

There’s a pretty fancy product tour, but beware there’s an audio element (you probably don’t need your boss listening in). It looks like the team spent a lot of time on this feature, but it’s more like a product pitch than an enlightening how-to. It’s also not quite finished; the tutorials on managing your web site are “coming soon.”

The “best-fit match” is potentially even more interesting than the digital portfolio. “It works like an online dating site,” says Hogg. Job seekers fill out a lengthy questionnaire that Hogg compares to the one on dating site eHarmony’s, which helps match them to jobs and employers. But this too must be a coming attraction, as I could find no link to it on the home page.

It might take a while for Protuo to get the kinks out, but you’ve gotta admit the idea’s pretty cool. Let me know about other products or services that reshape the traditional job hunt.

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