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Aug 9, 2013

What do Mozilla, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the Obama Administration all have in common?

If you said, “This sounds like the set up for an unfunny joke,” I will tell you right now that I’m not sure either. You’ll have to decide that for yourself.

Here’s the “punch line” — they’re all working together to bring resumes into the 21st century. And no, for once “21st century resume” won’t be associated with resume gimmicks like making a painfully awkward videos and cheesy infographics.

Like electronic merit badges

But I am excited about this. Here’s what’s happening:

If the Mozilla Corporation has its way, the traditional resume will be supplemented, or replaced entirely, by an enormous, profession-wide ecosystem of electronic merit badges. These “Open Badges” will represent earned skills, or knowledge, which people can earn and display. It’s a bold attempt at bringing true merit back into vogue – and to reward people for learning skills OUTSIDE of the classroom.

Does this remind you of the Boy Scouts?

It should. The only difference between those badges and the ones in your digital “backpack” is that the latter actually contain hard, digital evidence of the tasks and tests you’ve performed to earn them.

In other words, if this ecosystem begins to flourish, companies will be able to know EXACTLY what you are capable of doing – because you have the badges (and evidence within) to prove it. There will be no more leaving those old, deteriorated skills on your resume to ‘beef it up’ a little bit. Can’t hack it? Can’t display it.

Colleges starting to use digital badges

“I thought,” you are now thinking, “that you weren’t going to bore us with another insane resume gimmick. Digital badges, seriously?”

And yet, who are we to question Bill Clinton, the MacArthur Foundation, the Obama administration, and the wizards at Mozilla? Do you see them pumping millions of dollars into helping people make crappy YouTube resumes?

Look, I’m not saying that this project is destined to succeed, and that you should tear up your resume while sobbing into a cheesecake. But there are some signals that this idea –or ones like it – will begin to demand the attention of recruiters and job seekers throughout the U.S. Beyond the massive amount of time and capital being invested into the project by true powerhouses, DePaul University is already starting to include digital badges in their admissions process, and score them as college credits.

Meanwhile, Chicago is about to be the experimental ground zero for businesses both creating – which will allow them to specifically tailor their talent – and accepting digital badges in their hiring process. Will the project be a dud, or go nuclear? My take is that regardless of the failure or success of this single project, there’s going to be an inevitable push towards creating this kind of digital representation of talent.

Keep your eyes peeled on this project. For once, we may actually be reaching a new recruitment and job-searching paradigm.