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8 Things a Resume Wont Tell You | Real Business


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8 Things
a Resume Wont Tell You




If I never had another stack of resumes to review in this lifetime, Id be happy as a clam, said
Cherie, a Marketing manager. Im so tired of reading through endless lists of dry-as-dust skills,
tasks and duties, Id be thrilled never to have to do it again. After all, what do I care exactly what a
job-seekers day-to-day duties were at any of his last jobs? I want to know how the person rolls. I
want to know whats in his or her wake. Thats what you cant learn in a resume.



You could, if people would share that kind of thing in their resumes, I said.


I know you tell people to use a human voice in a resume, but the vast majority of job-seekers dont
do it. They give me the standard name, rank and serial number strictly by the book. That
information is practically useless to me in deciding who to interview. They tell me where they
worked, and when big deal! I want to know what they got done.
If youre responding to a job ad for my department, I want to know how you approach your work,
what youre proud of, and why I should talk to you about my open position.
What about the cover letter doesnt that help you sort through the resume stack? I asked.
My companys Applicant Tracking System doesnt let a job-seeker to add any free-form comments
that might perform the cover letters role, said Cherie.
Some genius decided its more important to learn what every applicant earned at every job hes
ever held, the name of each of his past supervisors, and the specific duties at every assignment. As
if we hiring managers are too dim to extrapolate the duties from the job title.
Cherie isnt the only hiring manager whos frustrated with the outdated resume format still
employed by most job seekers (not the mention the talent-repelling Black Hole recruiting systems
that keep Cherie and her next great hire apart). Of course, job-seekers didnt start writing resumes
their resumes in Zombie Style all on their own. Theyre just imitating the same Zombie Style that



8 Things a Resume Wont Tell You | Real Business

employers use in their job ads!

Heres our list of eight essential-to-know things that the standard resume wont tell you:
Career Logic
The standard resume format doesnt say Jack about how the job-seeker got into the field s/hes in.
We see that he or she went from Company A to Company B, but we dont get the answer to the
question why at each juncture. Thats the most important element! We want to see the logical
through-line in the resume, and thats exactly whats left out.
Turning Corners
The traditional resume doesnt tell a hiring manager why the job-seeker left each job to go to the
next one. Did you see the CEO speak at a conference, and get excited about his mission? The
resume has nothing to say about job transitions.
Mission Accomplished?
The typical resume doesnt say a word about what the mission you took on at each new job. We
dont know the mission, so how would we know whether it was accomplished?
What Would You Be Like to Work With?
The by-the-book resume format doesnt give us any clues to what youre like to work with, or what
your working (or even writing) style might be. Are you sprightly, sober, analytical, chirpy or
theatrical? The standard resume format all but wipes out any traces of a job-seekers personality and
How Will You Approach the Role?
Hiring managers would love to know how you approach problems and take ownership over your job
and career. They want to know how youve grown as a businessperson over the years. The standard
format, laden with tedious, factual bullets, tells us Heres what the job required which is to say,
the tasks that anyone in the job would have performed versus Heres what I brought to the job,
because of who I am.
What Were the Stakes for Your Past Projects?
Hiring managers want to know the conditions on the ground when you took each past job. When we
see an employer name like Acme Explosives on a resume, we dont know whether that company is
large, small, struggling, booming, or even still in existence. The standard resume format throws



8 Things a Resume Wont Tell You | Real Business

context (the most important element!) out the window.

You Say Youve Got Skills But Do You Know When (and How) to Use Them?
With its emphasis on Skills, the standard resume format doesnt tell a hiring manager how well you
can pull those abstract Skills (negotiation, communication, or administration, e.g.) off the shelf and
use them when the situation requires it. When a job-seeker trumpets excellent negotiation skills,
for instance, we cant tell whether the guy negotiated peace accords between warring nations, or
talked the coffee vendor into throwing a couple of extra creamers in with the order.
How Are Your Instincts?
Wed love to know what instincts youve got and how your judgment and business radar have
served you and your employers in the past. When we see lists of tasks and duties even projects
on your resume, we cant tell whether the projects were your own ideas, or whether you were
commanded to fulfill someone elses agenda. Thats a pity, because good instincts are at least as
important for Knowledge Worker success as Skills, certifications and diplomas.
Traditional Resumes Dont Cut It Anymore
If we want to understand just how outdated and unhelpful the traditional resume format has become
in a Knowledge Worker ecosystem, consider this. Think of a person you know, a present or former
colleague who is an ace and a superstar. Get the picture of this person in your mind someone
whos brilliant, insightful, helpful, resourceful and fun the greatest person youve had the
privilege to work alongside, so far.
Now, think of the biggest slacker, idiot or bully youve encountered in your travels. Im referring to
the kind of person who inspires his or her colleagues to wonder, Does s/he have incriminating
photos of the boss tucked away somewhere? Theres no other way to explain the fact that this
turkey is still employed.
Think of the standard resume format, and the typical Applicant Tracking System. No hiring
manager could tell the difference between the superstar employee and the bottom-of-the-barrel one
as long as they both held the same title in the same company at the same time. Thats ridiculous.
We should ask job applicants for information that will make those distinctions clear as day, not
who-cares?-type information like what were your tasks and duties?
The system is broken. We can surmount its built-in challenges by writing a resume with a human
voice in it. Lets take a look at a few of our resume-wont-tell-you issues again, and this time
include a sample of resume language to vault over the obstacle each format-driven resume failing



8 Things a Resume Wont Tell You | Real Business

Career Logic
I started out in Accounting but discovered that I love marketing and sales. Now Im an Account
Specialist who thrives on managing $1 million-plus relationships with Fortune 500 businesses,
growing relationships and helping my client managers spot issues on the horizon and steer around
them. At Acme Electronics, I pushed for 18 months to install a Sales-Service-Consulting team
structure for our largest accounts; when we got that done our sales grew 25% in six months.
In this Summary we see the job-seekers brain working. We know why s/he got from Accounting
into Account Management, and we see that s/hes internally driven and eager to win. We learn that
s/he pushed for an organizational change and sold the idea internally, with good results.
Do we want to interview this person? Thats an individual hiring managers call. We can see at a
glance that theres a real person behind the resume, someone well find to our liking or not no
guesswork needed.
Turning Corners
We can answer the question Whyd this person leave this job? in the bullets that describe the
assignment. The final bullet can tell that goodbye story. We only need three or four bullets, once
were using our resume bullets to tell dragon-slaying stories rather than listing boring tasks and
When Acme began moving away from direct sales toward a two-tier distribution scheme, I
was recruited by our VP of Sales to work for him at Angry Plastics.
Mission Accomplished?
We can use a short framing statement to tell the reader about the mission you took on when you
accepted each position, and use the resume bullets to describe completing the mission:
Acme Explosives, Los Angeles, California
Purchasing Manager, 2008 present
I was brought into Acme, the Southwests oldest and most-established maker of stick dynamite for
the coyote market ($10 million in annual sales) after the CEO heard me speak about supply chain
management at an industry conference. At the time, Acme was fourth-place in market share and
aiming for the number one spot.



8 Things a Resume Wont Tell You | Real Business

I revamped the Purchasing organization and systems during my first six months, taking 15%
of our process costs out (saving $1 million per year) and vastly improving our supplier
relationships and supply-chain visibility.
In three years, wed become the far-and-away market share leader with 48% share in our top
10 markets.
What Would You Be Like to Work With?
Your resume Summary (and a conversational tone throughout the resume) will bring your style, wit
and personality across. Your choice of stories will also make the you behind the resume more real
for your next boss.
Step Out of the Standard-Resume Frame
You can get the most important information across in your resume, but it wont happen if you stick
to the dusty, traditional resume format. Youll have to step out of the standard resume-writing frame
to let your next manager know how you roll and what youre like to work with. If you havent
updated your resume in a while (or if youve just done that, and found the document staring back at
you a poor reflection of your power and energy) try adding a human voice.
Once you leave old notions of Resume Dos and Donts behind and write to hiring managers the
way you talk to your friends, youll be amazed how much heft you can convey. Try it!



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