The contemporary resume, with its bullet points and terse, clipped phrases, seems antithetical to any type of storytelling device. Some players in the hiring process, particularly recruiters, tend to want candidates to stick to the facts in their resumes. Others, however, especially those who make direct hiring decisions, appreciate a resume that opens a window to your personality through storytelling. In this 2002 book, Making Stories: A Practical Guide for Organizational Leaders and Human Resource Specialists, Terrence Gargiulo, for example, points out that human-resource managers prepare to interview candidates by reading resumes with their “story mind.” Putting himself into the mindset of HR people, he envisions using the information in the resume to “construct a story and image of the person.” As a job-seeker, you can help the hiring decision-maker by crafting a narrative that grabs the reader.
When read by human eyes, your resume will get the reader’s attention for only 2.5 to 20 seconds. In his popular book about intuition, Blink!, Malcolm Gladwell talks about “thin-slicing,” which he defines as “the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.” Employers can be said to “thin-slice” when they glance at a resume. Rare is the employer who will read even close to the entire resume on the first pass. Yet they will usually put your resume into a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” pile based on the tiny slice of your resume that actually catches their attention. That’s why compelling narrative can be key to intriguing your reader. The usual thin slices of your experience served up in a resume don’t enable you to weave a theme to resonate with the employer.
Two hilarious examples of story resumes appear on the Internet. One is a musical, animated creation that attracted a great deal of notice and was actually a fairly serious attempt to obtain a job. Another, from Allen Williams, would seem to be a quite tongue-in-cheek incarnation of a resume.