Ask LH: Should My Resume Be More Like A Story?

Dear Lifehacker, I recently was recommended for a position and was asked to send off my resume to a recruitment agency followed by a short pre-interview. After a short talk with the recruitment agent I was informed that my verbal discussion was more informative than my written resume. I was then asked to write out my resume as if it were a story with full paragraphs about what I do, the scope and what my role provides my existing employer.

Aside from feeling like a cash cow to these people I can't help but wonder if we are starting to move away from targeted cover sheets and more to novel-like resumes. Would a more detailed resume attract an employer as opposed to a brief two page resume? Cheers, Resume The Position

Resume picturefrom Shutterstock

Dear RTP,

First things first: you should never take a "one-size-fits-all" approach when it comes to constructing your resume. There will always be subtle differences in what an employer is looking for, even if you limit your job search to one position within the same industry. You should therefore take the time to customise your resume to fit each job you apply for.

In the absence of clear instructions, we'd recommend sticking to the unspoken rule of keeping your resume relatively short and sweet — if you can explain everything an employer needs to know in two pages, there's no reason to stretch it out to five.

That said, you should always do what a potential employer asks, whether directly or via a recruiter. If they want a big, flowery resume filled with personal anecdotes, then refusing to provide one can only hurt your chances. Below are some links with additional advice that should help to steer your resume(s) in the right direction...

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    "Aside from feeling like a cash cow to these people "

    What's the point in stating that (or thinking it for that matter), and, what's the point in printing that (@ Lifehacker editor). "These people" are basically giving you free advice and are attempting to assist you. Why be so ungrateful and snooty about it.

    "I can’t help but wonder if we are starting to move away from targeted cover sheets and more to novel-like resumes."

    If by cover sheet you mean cover letter then we have already moved away from that. To be clear, the majority of employers, and certainly the majority of recruitment consultancies no longer require or request cover letters. This has been discussed elsewhere but the fundamental reasons for this is simply that all relevant information ought to appear in the resume, and as such referring to a cover letter is virtually always a waste of time. And recruiters rarely have time to waste, And if they do, they're likely to choose to spend wasting that time on more interesting endeavours.

    "Would a more detailed resume attract an employer as opposed to a brief two page resume?"

    Generally, no.

    I would suggest that a good forum for communicating in a narrative type fashion would be a novel.

    I don't wish to appear facetious, but it's common sense really, and the best judge of how much detail should go into your resume will likely be you.

    The fundamentals are to present the basics:-

    Name of employer
    Dates of employment
    Position / Job Title
    Key Duties (in bullet point fashion)

    You may want to add to this by providing the following:-

    Position overvierw
    Key achievements
    Details of special projects / tasks (1 paragraph should suffice)
    Reasons for leaving the position
    Career summary (especially to provide basic details of position dating back several years)

    "if you can explain everything an employer needs to know in two pages, there’s no reason to stretch it out to five"

    There's nothing wrong with a five page resume, and for an experienced applicant that's quite normal and frankly to be expected. That is, if the information is presented clearly and is information based - meaning as per my above layout description and not narrative script.

    One of the main things to understand is that each relevant position needs to be described adequately , and as such I would say that there might well be good reason to stretch it out to five. But I agree with Lifehacker that it is utterly dependent on your specific circumstances.

    "That said, you should always do what a potential employer asks, whether directly or via a recruiter. If they want a big, flowery resume filled with personal anecdotes, then refusing to provide one can only hurt your chances"

    Of course complying with the employers/recruiters requests will help your application, but let's be real, it's highly unlikely that anyone would want a big, flowery resume filled with personal anecdote, and to answer RTPs query more accurately I would say that writing "a resume as if it were a story with full paragraphs about what I do, the scope and what my role provides my existing employer" is unlikely to be well regarded.

    It seems clear that the recruiter feels that your existing resume lacks information, so it would make sense to consider adding more detail, possibly in a position overview format - a few sentences expressing the gist of the role, in addition to detailed but concise job duties information in bullet point format.

    You have to remember that a resume needs to be understood, and digested. Employers rarely have the time or mind space to sit down and study your application. The applicant needs to make it easy for the employer/recruiter, and the best way to do that is by keeping things simple.

      I put a meme here.. But it might not have been contextually clear what I meant. So instead of a hilarious slice of modern comedy, please instead enjoy this droll statement. Use it responsibly.

      Last edited 08/07/13 8:53 pm

        You're able to delete comments altogether, you know.

          How? :) Not through here at least. That would really help me be right even more than I already am.. Retroactively xD

          Then I can finally be the best guy on the internets

    As a freelancer my Resume was previously just a long list of jobs, a manager at my current work said that I needed to tell more of a story, so I cut out a few entries and added a couple of lines to each entry with a description of what I did and the skills that were applicable. Its still a work in progress but definitely an improvement over my old one which was quite sterile and impersonal.

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