“Too long and boring” comprise two of the top complaints about most resumes voiced by Liz Ryan of WorldWIT. Contributing to a blog called “Get That Job!” Ryan cites one of her favorite resumes “ from a controller who includes this telling line on his resume: “Unusually wicked sense of humor for a Finance type.” Ryan notes that “the human need for stories should be a vital clue to job-hunters, whose resumes often have as much dramatic punch as the back of a cereal box. Your resume is your marketing brochure. It has to tell your story.” She suggests reading through your resume with the fresh eyes of an employer who will wonder, “Who is this person?” An unnamed blogger on the blog Fincareer similarly writes that “by highlighting and interpreting experiences in light of the job or career alternative you are contemplating, your story will get the quality and coherence needed to win a recruiter’s trust and interest.” With a storied resume, you can often explain the rationale and value of what you’ve done.
Just as valuable as the resume itself is the process of compiling it, write Herminia Ibarra and Kent Lineback in Harvard Business Review, because “it entails drafting your story.” The authors advise that “everything in the resume must point to one goal “ which is, of course, the climax of the story you’re telling.” They cite a job-seeker who better defined what excited her about her chosen field every time she wrote her story in a piece of job-search communication.
Most employers also want to see substantiation of your claims about yourself, which is something you can accomplish through storytelling. Too many resumes are collections of adjectives and meaningless puffery with no stories to back up their claims. In focus-group research conducted for this book, participants found a story-based resume (the Wesley Edwards resume) more memorable than one that did not contain story, noting that the storytelling resume “leaves more of an impression” and that it “lists actual numbers. And it allows the reader to understand in dollars what he’s accomplished.”
Still, the resume is the trickiest component in career-marketing communication in which to tell stories. Following are some guidelines to keep in mind when creating a story-based resume: