Does your resume tell a story?

Updated: May 18


Everybody loves a good story; we naturally understand our world via stories.

Therefore having a story or narrative in your resume and job application will help a recruiter or employer to easily understand who you are - and why they should get you in for an interview.

This is particularly important if your career history is a bit confusing, you have had a variety of jobs, or if you are trying to move into a different sector or job-type.

When an employer or recruiter is reading your job application you need to captivate their attention. A story can help them to make sense of what can easily be a dry read.

So where and how should you insert your story?

Your professional profile will be a big part of your narrative, explaining who you are:

"I am an senior advertising account executive with experience in... who is skilled at...". You need to tell them what is unique about you.

Your profile can also include your story if you are looking to change careers, for example:

"A senior governance professional with experience in the education sector seeking to move into a government role..."

Your cover letter should also tell your story, with your first paragraph summarising your skills, experience and why you are the perfect fit for (and excited about) the job you are applying for.

Your key achievements (you should list at least two on the front page of your resume) need to also tell a compelling story about how you solved a problem.

Try to make your achievements interesting, as well as add solid achievements using figures:

"I devised a national marketing campaign for ZZZ focusing on new mothers which increased my division's profit by 30% in the 2016/2017 financial year. I was promoted to X due to this outcome."

If you have had a disparate career, another way to tell your story is to have different sections of your CV to clearly explain this.

For example, you may be a school teacher looking to move back into an administration role. Your profile should state this, and then instead of Career History you could have the sections Teaching Experience and Administrative Experience.

If you have had a range of freelance and long and short-term contract roles, your resume can become very confusing. You need to decide how you are going to tell your work story.

A good idea is to list any short-term contracts as clients under your Freelancer job entry, and list any long-term contracts as separate jobs. The employment relationship is not overly important; you need to decide what story you are going to tell, and this needs to be in the clearest way possible.

You basically want to make it easy for the employer to understand your work history and experience. You'll catch their eye and they'll want to get you in for an interview to hear more.

You'll then need to have a more detailed story ready for your job interview, not just about who you are, but for each of your key skills.

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