16 February, 2011

Can a Résumé be Unique?

The document sits before me – black text on white background.  I sigh and look over the words, the format, the general look and feel – Is there enough white space?  Reminding myself that this is “just a draft” I close the document.  I will look for words later when I have a fresh mind; I will find words that capture more than those I have currently chosen. 

Later, between conversations and bits of laughter, I find myself contemplating the document, not looking for more robust and descriptive words, but considering if there is a way to infuse the text with life?  

The document is my resume, one of the more dry pieces I have drafted in years.

It does exactly what it is meant to do, list and document an outline of the work done and the skill set I have acquired.  It feels generic in that I do not know if it does anything to reflect my energy, outlook, innovative spirit, or creativity. 

Thus the challenge –

How to energize my résumé and intrigue the reader? 

How do I make this document about me? 



LesleyG said...

This task taunts me right now, too. I don't really have any advice, but I'd love to read some.

giulietta nardone said...

Hi TE,

About three years ago, I took a songwriting class and wrote a song and sang it at an open mic, called "rip it up." (about resumes.)

Resumes are worthless drivel in their present format. Pompous, phony inflations to fit some HR abnormal norm. So, I created a "life print" for myself and then I was hired by some folks to do their "life prints" as well after they saw mine.

I find the person's life theme/fearless why and kind of wind that through the life print so it actual tells a story of who the person is rather than trying to repackage folks as clones of others.

It's a semi-similar visual format - but it's rather different and each one I make has a different feel to it.

Like Egypt, someone has to start the revolution to make change happen!

Even a letter might do. If the company you want to reach, really wants a "self starter" and all that other mumbo jumbo, they'll be stopped in their tracks by something different, something human.

Hope this helps you in your quest to create something "alive" to represent you.

Thx, Giulietta

BigLittleWolf said...

This is always so hard. Unless you're in a creative field, you can't be too creative (and even then, you have to be careful). But the same old-same old seems soooooo dry.

I never feel like I get this quite right. Ever. Perhaps part of why I try to craft very customized and catchy (appropriately) cover letters.

Mama Llama said...

I am having trouble with that right now as well, TE. I want to SCREAM to those with whom I am applying how dynamic, interesting, educated and open I am--and how can I do that until my resumé opens the door to an interview? So very difficult...

Be well, TE.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi TE ... love Giuletta's idea .. great thought .. put the basics down and add the 'life print' ..

Cheers and hope you resolve the Resuming-Life Story somehow?! Hilary

Patty - Why Not Start Now? said...

Hi M,

I do think a resume can be unique, but it's more about the undercurrent of uniqueness, if that makes sense. Clearly people in HR don't want to read a long narrative, and there are certain conventions in many fields that limit what you can do on the page.

Yet you do need to tell a story. I think of accomplishment statements as mini stories, in fact. And people are hardwired to want to hear stories, so if you can grab their attention in a few seconds by writing accomplishment statements that hint at a deeper story, people will perk up and take notice.

The big thing I've discovered, after working with many people on their resumes over the years, is that what happens before the resume ever gets sent, what you project onto it, is as important as what shows up on the page.

If you have a chance to work with someone who's good at witnessing your stories, listening for what's underneath, unearthing the gems, co-creating with you, and helping you to be a storyteller who brings these experiences to life, then the essence of that will show up on the page as you write the resume together. Not only that, you'll feel good about it.

But, it takes a fair amount of time and work to do this, and not many people are willing to go there because they think a resume is just a dull document and they want to get it over as quickly as possible. Which is why I rarely work with people on resumes anymore, because it's hard to get them to understand that it's actually a depth process that requires commitment and intent.

Having said that, though, I just had a wonderful experience with a long term client, where we spent several sessions working on her resume. The most amazing thing is that by giving herself over to the process, by allowing her inner storyteller to emerge, not only did she end up with a better resume than either of us expected, but her self esteem blossomed as a result. It was really a lovely experience.

So. I know I went on and on. I guess I had a lot to say about this topic!

Davina Haisell said...

Writing a resume has got to be one of the writing projects I enjoy the least! Good luck with it Marla.

Perhaps not making it about you but ask it of you... meaning, if your resume were being interviewed about you... what would it tell the audience. :)

Tim said...

Hi Exception:

As someone in transition for a long time, I have spent a great deal stressing about and tweaking my resume. In the past, I hired a "pro" to write my resume. I'm not sure where you're at in the job search process...maybe you're just getting it ready. But here's a little advice...

As you show your resume to a lot of friends and experts, you can expect a lot of opinions. I say listen to everybody, but don't act on everyone's advice. You need to follow your instinct in this area.

One thing that will help you make your resume more about you is to really know what makes you different than your competition. You really need to know yourself. Last year I took a Strengthfinders course at my career center. It was based on Tom Rath's book called strengthfinders 2.0. It helped me out immensely and I was able to incorporate these strengths in my resumes, cover letters and ultimately in my interviews.

I could probably ramble on more about this. If you're really in a bind and need some more ideas, feel free to shoot me an email. Good luck on your journey!

Belinda said...

This reminds me that I don't have a current resume; haven't bothered to update one in years! I know this is not a good thing but I just learned a lot form reading Patty's comment. Tell succinct stories. I better get to work!