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Resume Rule #11: Everyone Likes a Good Story

by Perry Newman | Jan 03, 2017

There is a reason authors like James Patterson, John Grisham, Michael Connelly, and David Baldacci, among others, are constant fixtures on The New York Times Best Seller list. They create compelling stories that grab readers’ attentions, stirring their imaginations to read on and see how the characters develop and the story unfolds to its conclusion.

I’ve been writing resumes and advising people on how to interview for quite some time now. I’ve been told that the reason my clients’ resumes and their resulting interviews are so successful is because I advised them to tell a story above all else.

I don’t dispute that keywords, achievements, and accomplishments are important for success, but how you use them to tell your story trumps all else. So when you begin to prepare a resume or arrange to have a professional resume writer draft one, consider the following:

Define the story you want to tell. 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 braggadocious?

Is the content relevant to the story you want to tell, or is it mostly fluff/filler and self-aggrandizement?

Does your resume read more like a thriller, a classic novel, a textbook, or a horror story?

If you assimilate all this into your prep work and keep it in mind as you write, you can end up with a great resume, depending on how good of a writer you are in the first place. To really wow your readers, you also need to be a good researcher to find the right information that hits the right spot.

All of these points also apply to your how you prepare your responses in the interview, since a successful interview is also about storytelling. The difference is, for an interview, you need to strategize how you present your story verbally rather than in writing. For some, this is easy; for others, this is the hard part. In either case, you need to perfect your story and storytelling ability in both writing and speech.

About the Author

Perry Newman, CPC/CSMS, is a nationally recognized career services professional, an executive resume writer and career transition coach, a certified social media strategist and an AIPC-certified recruiter. He can be reached by email.