When you’re applying for jobs, storytelling can catch an employer’s interest. It’s fairly easy to use an anecdote in a cover letter, but it can be trickier to incorporate tales of what you’ve done in your resume. Keep these guidelines in mind when you’re creating a story-based resume:
Use an introductory profile. At the top of the resume, a Professional Profile provides an excellent vehicle for telling the story of who you are. For example, “Dynamic professional with strong commitment to women’s sports and proven track record as both a competitor and an event organizer.”
Stress accomplishments. Your resume should describe accomplishments, which are best communicated in story form. How did you leave each organization better than you found it? i.e., If you worked at a small bookshop, you might include, “Reduced unnecessary book purchases by developing Excel spreadsheet book inventory.”
Quantify. Employers love numbers. For instance, if you won an award, say something like, “One of five juniors in a class of 1,500 students who was selected for the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.”
Use superlatives. You can impress employers with words such as “first,” “only,” “best,” “most,” and “highest.” Look for details that distinguish your accomplishments. For example, mention that you were “the only college student selected to work for XYZ law firm during the summer of 2009”
Tell concise stories. Most employers prefer a resume that is formatted in bullet points. You can tell stories in bullet points, but they must be short, not wordy.
Humanize and personalize your resume. The trend in resumes has been to leave out personal information and interests. But this type of human-interest information can work for you as long as you relate it to professional skills. It also helps reveal more about you to the employer so that she would like to get to know better.
Tailor your resume to each job you seek. You don’t have to tell the same stories on every resume you send out. The ideal scenario is to tailor your resume for every position you apply for so that you can select stories are most appropriate for the job at hand.
Excerpted from Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to get Jobs and Propel Your Career, by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., with permission from JIST Publishing