Resume Rule # 11: Everyone Likes a Good Story
Published: May 12, 2014
There is a reason authors like Patterson, Grisham, Connelly and Baldacci, among others, are constant fixtures on the NY Times Best Seller List. They create compelling stories that grab the reader’s attention and stir their imagination to read on to see how the characters develop and the story unfolds and concludes.
I’ve been writing resumes and advising people on how to interview for quite some time now and the reason I am told that my resumes and my clients’ interviews are so successful is I believe in the focusing on the story above all else.
I don’t dispute that keywords and achievements and accomplishments are important for success, but how you use them to tell the story trumps all else. So when you begin to prepare a resume [or whoever writes it for you] consider the following.
Define the story you want to tell, and is it one the reader wants to be told?
Is the main character (you) memorable in the reader’s mind; if not how do you make it so?
Does your story contain action and intrigue or is it cliché, hollow and boring?
Does the main character (you again) come across as likeable and sincere or arrogant and a braggart?
Does the story flow from the first word on or does it take time to get compelling- or is it not compelling reading at all?
Does the story flow smoothly from point to point or does it lack focus and continuity and get bogged down in hyperbole?
Is the content relevant to the story you want to tell or is it mostly just fluff and filler and self-aggrandizement?
Is your resume read more like a thriller, a classic novel, an educational discourse, a textbook, or a horror story?
If you assimilate this all into your prep work and writing you can end up with an acceptable and maybe even a great resume depending on how good of a writer you are in the first place; and more important, depending on how good of a researcher you are to find the right information to wow the audience.
Besides applying to writing a resume, all of these points also apply to how you prepare your responses to an interview since a successful interview is also about storytelling. The difference is for an interview you need to prepare howyou present your stories verbally rather than in writing. For some this is easier and for others this is the hard part. In either case you need to perfect your story and storytelling ability in both writing and in speech.
Perry Newman CPC/CSMS is a nationally-recognized career services professional; an executive resume writer and career transition coach, certified social media strategist, AIPC certified recruiter and charter member of the Career Rocketeer team. Passionate about all things related to career management, Perry has been critiquing Career Rocketeer readers' resumes at no cost since 2009. For a complimentary critique, email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.