Use Your Resume to Create a Personal Narrative

When it comes to utility, professional resumes are often looked at by job candidates as a required, yet one-note tool in their employment arsenal.  Everyone knows that the primary goal of a CV, after all, is to succinctly communicate an individual’s prior employment history, their chronological education, and maybe throw in a little spice when it comes to hobbies and interests.  As it turns out, this approach to resume create and utilization is not only outdated but it also overlooks an opportunity for candidates to add additional color and explanation to their job applications.

Resumes may need to follow standard formatting and topical requirements, but there is plenty of room between the lines to color in extra details.  Candidates who take a more nuanced approach to crafting will find that they have the ability to use their resume to create a personal narrative which can tell the story of your professional and educational career.  With a few smart layout and contextual choices, your resume will not only tell the black and white details of your skills and experience, but it can also fill in missing gaps and help you stand out from the candidate crowd.  Read on to find out just how to make this happen.

Call Out Education Successes

If you’re a job applicant only just starting out in their career, a well-crafted resume can paint the picture of a motivated candidate with energy and smarts that would benefit a  prospective employer. With little to no job experience, it’s important that you stress your academic achievements in greater detail.

Perhaps you received that award for scoring best in your class?  List the achievement and then call out the number of fellow classmates that tried and failed to achieve in the category.  Did you volunteer or intern for a non-profit? Be sure to elaborate on how the specific cause motivated you to give back and specifically identify any projects you were tasked with.  The same logic applies to study groups you may have formed, morning running clubs that you helped coordinate, or even fraternity or sorority or honor society positions you held that demonstrate leadership qualities.  In short, make up for the missing employment experience with corresponding educational ones that promote the same qualities and traits that are desired in the job you may be applying for.

Illustrate Your Career Progression

Once you’ve been out in the career world for a period of time, making a few wise word placement and phrasing choices can help paint the picture of your career progression.  Think of your work history as the roadmap to your work successes. Identify several key themes that would be applicable to the job you’re currently applying for, and be sure to identify similar traits at the last several positions that show you’re qualified.

Need a few real-world examples?  Perhaps in the open job position, you’d be required to lead a team of 10 individual sales representatives.  In your career progression on your resume be sure that each job description clearly indicates the number of team members you were in charge of.  Perhaps the first position as an associate saw you as one single member of a team while the shift manager gave you your first experience in management.  The next store manager gig increased the number of people working for you and prepared you for the current role. Thematic consistencies geared around the qualities needed for the current position will paint a strong picture of your qualifications and help score you that follow up interview.

Explain Away Employment Gaps

One of the biggest hurdles for many candidates will be explaining away gaps in employment dates on their resume.  Leaving open timelines between individual roles allows potential employers to paint their own narrative, for the positive or negative.

Take control of your personal narrative and treat employment gaps as timeline entries to be filled with growth and advancement.  Did you take time off to raise a family? Perhaps your entry for this period lists that you further perfected multi-tasking skills by raising two small children.  Were you unemployed but kept job searching and networking? Jot this down as time spent furthering interpersonal communication skills via networking workshops and leadership clinics.  Whatever you do, don’t let your interviewer read between the lines. Fill in your own version of events and showcase that you never quit working, even when out of the workforce.

Promote Your Goals and Aspirations

Last, but certainly not least on our list of ways you can craft a personal narrative via resume focuses on the overall theme and plus factors that go into your resume crafting.  Often times candidates will use fields such as the “resume objective” or “hobbies and interests” to list a myriad of random, unrelated facts. Savvy candidates, however, see these fields as a prime opportunity to show hiring managers that they are dedicated to their field and career growth.

In the hobbies and interests section, be sure to select activities that showcase skills required for the position you are applying for.  Looking to be a team leader? Talk about your experience working with groups to build homes for the disadvantaged. Are you a tax preparer?  Maybe you have a passion for competitive chess or sudoku. For your resume objective, be sure to utilize those two to three sentences to showcase who you are and where you intend to go in your career to further flush out this narrative and set yourself apart from the crowd.

The best part of all these handy resume tips?  Each one is achievable using  Head on over to see how our free tools can help customize your resume and get you one step closer to a professional narrative capable of scoring you that next big career opportunity.

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