Is Your Resume Conveying Your Career Story?

message "show don't tell" for creativ writing, spelled with wooden letter blocks on the top and between pages of a  book

Does your resume capture the essence of your career story to date? Does it convey the impact that you’ve had on the employers you’ve worked for so far? Does it showcase your unique combination of achievements and skills?

If not, then your resume is failing to promote the real you.

While it’s important to tell your career story in many ways (in print, online, and verbally) and in many places (resume, LinkedIn profile, bio/marketing brief, cover letter), let’s start with your resume since it is the foundational tool in your career communications portfolio. In future posts I’ll be delineating ways to showcase your career story in your LinkedIn profile and your networking/interviewing.

How to Tell Your Career Story in Your Resume

  • Choose a job search focus for your resume. This should be a specific type and level of position (Director of Operations), a cluster of related roles (Director or AVP/VP of Operations), or a networking-focused positioning statement that qualifies you for a range of roles (Senior Operations Executive).
  • Align your resume’s content to support your job search focus. Use your resume’s focus as the filter through which you choose which content to include and which details to omit. Include nothing in your resume that does not support your search focus.
  • Identify achievements that substantiate your candidacy for such roles. Build CAR stories for each achievement and select 4-6 for your current or most recent role, 3-4 for your previous role, and 1-2 for all prior roles back to the year 2000.
  • Tell mini stories about each role to help readers connect the dots as you moved from position to position. Use 2- to 3-line job descriptions for each position you’ve held and leverage these descriptions to detail key movements and challenges in your career to date.
  • Craft a career summary that showcases your brand, your overall achievement record, your key credentials, and your relevant traits/characteristics. Break your summary into sub-sections to enable details to stand out. Remember to capture cumulative achievements in your summary. What you’re after here is the big picture of your career and your candidacy, all rolled into one.
  • Tie it all together with color, taglines, and info buckets that flesh out key facts or groups of details. Use 1 to 3 short taglines, a logo, color/formatting, or small groupings of data to call attention to the most vital facts. Don’t go too far, though – less is definitely more in this area.

It’s critical to accomplish similar goals in your LinkedIn profile, which is why I am launching a new LI group. This won’t be a networking group so much as a challenge group. I’ll be designing and suggesting a new mini-challenge each week to help you improve your LI profile and influence over time. If you’re a mid-career or senior executive, consider yourself invited.