QUESTION: I’ve always been told that a resume isn’t a venue for me to tell my life’s story; that makes sense, but now I’m hearing that I shouldn’t shy away from telling my story. What should I believe?
A resume is a summary of your relevant accomplishments: those that would resonate with what the prospective employer needs. It is in a sense a “story” of your career journey in the form of your advancement and contributions. However, the larger “story” can be told during the interview. This is when you can indeed tell individual stories of your success and resilience.
“Your resume should convey your story just as a movie trailer markets the story for an upcoming movie. Provide highlights; stress the action; customize content for the audience; skillfully format and edit for the viewer. Leave them wanting more. The goal for both is the same—to raise interest in seeing the product. In short, don’t shy away from telling your story, but tell it concisely.”
Tell your story in a relevant way! Analyze employer needs from job postings, then selectively add achievements to your resume that directly prove these capabilities, using the C-A-R format to describe the Challenge you faced, Action you took, and the Result of your efforts. Use a resume summary to highlight your personality, value proposition, and approach related to these accomplishments.
A resume serves as a highlight of your achievements. Concentrate on the last 10-15 years, and if your earlier experience is relevant, very briefly summarize it in the document. As you prepare to interview, practice your “CAR” stories. What was the challenge you faced? What action did you take to solve the challenge? What were the results? During the interview, weave your stories into your answers.
Storytelling in resume writing means cohesively sharing your professional experiences, demonstrating what makes you unique, and how you solve an employer’s most pressing problems. Content and impact (quality) should be the cornerstone of your story, not recanting every job you’ve ever held (quantity). The goal of telling your career story is to engage your reader and spark interest in your brand.
You need to find a happy medium! Your resume should contain info relevant to the role(s) you’re applying for, but your experience should weave a narrative that tells your story *in relation to that next step*. Ex: If you’re applying for a senior management position, focus any the leadership roles you’ve had in the past to show how your experiences have built the foundation for your future success.
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