Seeing Spots: QR Codes Do Not Belong On Legal Resumes


It was bound to happen. Once LinkedIn started pushing the QR code links to its pages, it was only a matter of time before they started popping up on legal resumes.  They are supposed to make you look hip, tech-savvy, and give the reader an opportunity to look at a “second” resume if they want.  In reality, they are cumbersome, unlikely to be read and, in some instances, can annoy the reader (where the goal is always to impress the reader).

For those of you that aren’t familiar with QR codes, they are those square black boxes that look like they are partially filled in with other black boxes – sort of a Rorschach test in square form.  They work like a website address and a user can scan this “code” only after downloading a “reader” application on their phone, tablet or computer.

When I see a legal resume with a QR code, I never open it.  Period.  I assume that hiring managers do the same and avoid opening it.  Let’s discuss why:

First, many folks will not download an app to open some extraneous marketing materials about a candidate.  Many law firms limit what their employees can download on their firm-issued cell phone, anyway.  For me, I’m not limited in what I can download, but I choose not to have a QR reader on my phone.

Secondly, I’m a skeptic by nature and my computer is my life.  To my knowledge, no one can infect my computer/phone/tablet with a virus by scanning one of these codes, but let’s be honest: if Matthew Broderick can hack into the WOPR supercomputer with a telephone line and less computing power than is in my alarm clock, I just assume someone with today’s technology can put spyware on my computer by linking the QR code with a shady website. (I’m referencing War Games – there’s your 80s movie reference for the day, folks).

Finally, I don’t want to be “tricked” into reading more about a candidate.  I know that with 99% likelihood the QR code will take me to a candidate’s LinkedIn page (which every hiring manager knows how to find on their own), but it might also be a link to writing samples, transcripts, etc.  No matter where it goes, I want to be in control of what I am reading.  I don’t follow blind links on websites and I don’t want to have a blind link placed on a resume.  If your resume is well-written, there is absolutely no reason to need a link to more information.

A solution to this is that if you think you need to have extra materials submitted with your resume, or there is something so compelling on your LinkedIn page that you need a reader to see it, then just add a normal website address to the resume and let the reader decide to go there.

At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, I strongly believe that QR codes fall into the same category as photos, family information, fancy/frilly paper, colored ink and confidential information – they are all things that should NOT be on a legal resume.

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