Everything around us changes so fast we can keep hardly keep up with the day's news — but the traditional resume format lives on! We can acknowledge the truth. The traditional, stilted, corporate-speak resume format has had its moment.
It is hopelessly anachronistic now. If your resume looks and sounds like every other resume on the street — as 99% of job-seekers’ resumes do — you have already made your job search much harder.
Language like “Results-oriented professional with a bottom-line orientation” does not capture who you are or what you've done. That awful zombie resume language diminishes you. It squeezes all spark out of your amazing personality.
Why do job-seekers cling to the boring, inhuman resume style we have known for fifty years or more?
It's because they have not received permission from the resume gods to change their resume's format. They think it would be improper or unprofessional to submit a resume with a human voice in it.
They forget something important.
No piece of applicant tracking software ever invited a job applicant to a job interview. Even if you pitch applications and resumes into dreaded Black Hole online job applications, a human being will still have to see your resume in order for you to have a shot at the job.
How do you reach through the page to touch a person, just for an instant? You will not do it by describing yourself as a “motivated self-starter with great organizational skills!”
We describe ourselves as though we are items in a boring office-supply catalog — and it really hurts us.
We put ourselves into categories when we write a resume in the traditional, zombie style. We flatten our wonderful, diverse and powerful life stories into undifferentiated mush.
You don't have to do that.
You can write your resume to sound like you are talking to a friend or a new business acquaintance, because that is exactly what you are doing when you reach out to a hiring manager directly.
A Human-Voiced Resume tells your simple, human story — without self-congratulation, a litany of your awards and commendations, or puffy language about what you believe your skills to be.
Your story is your strongest brand!
Here's an example of a Human-Voiced Resume Summary. Your Summary creates a frame for the rest of your resume. Your Summary appears near the top of your resume, just below your name and contact details.
Office Manager with HR Experience
I studied Accounting in college and became an Office Manager by way of the Accounting department. I love to keep a complex, busy office humming by establishing smart processes. My goal is to keep everyone informed and equipped to do their jobs with as little stress as possible.
I am equally happy arranging travel, creating reports, organizing events, writing a newsletter and handling thorny customer and team issues. I have experience with payroll, third-party benefits administration, Facilities and HR compliance and I'm eager to take on a new challenge.
This Human-Voiced Resume Summary belongs to Gail, who becomes more and more aware every day that if she can't work among like-minded, fun, smart and caring people then she doesn't want the job.
Gail says “My resume is branded. It's branded to suit me. Some employers hate it and I wish them all the good fortune in the world. I just won't work for them. My resume pulls in the right people and pushes the wrong ones away.”
So far Gail's resume is pulling in all sorts of interesting people. Like all good marketing tools Gail's resume makes her job easier — and in this case, her job is her job search.
Here are ten resume-writing rules smart job-seekers break. You can do it, too.
1. Break the rule that says “You can't use the word ‘I’ in your resume.” Of course you can use the word “I.” Your resume is a marketing document for you!
2. Break the rule that requires you to write your resume using sentence fragments instead of full sentences.
3. Break the rule that forces you to use stiff, governmental language in your resume.
4. Break the rule that forbids you to talk about your motivation for choosing your career in your resume, or to talk about what you love to do rather than just what you've already done professionally.
5. Break the rule that insists you stick to done-to-death resume phrases like “Adept at leading cross-functional teams” and “Strategic Change Agent.” Your own, human voice is far more powerful!
6. Break the rule that requires you to list your Skills in your resume, like this: “I possess excellent organizational, strategic, negotiation and administration skills.” Every applicant claims the same Skills and those claims do not carry much weight. Forget your skills — apart from technology — and tell us stories about your accomplishments in your resume, instead.
7. Break the rule that says your credibility is bound up in your previous job titles, formal education and years of experience with tools and functions. Your credibility, market value and power come from who you are. Your story is your power. Job titles are cool but they do not capture what you have accomplished already, much less what you are capable of. Your education, ditto. You have already solved big problems and made a positive difference at work. Don't make your resume all about trophies other people have conferred on you. Make it about you, with or without trophies!
8. Break the rule that says your resume should beg for a job. If you have to beg for a job, it's the wrong job.
9. Break the rule that says your resume must list generic functions like Operations — Sales — Marketing — Customer Service, etc. This is an outdated practice left over from the eighties when technology-assisted resume sorting was a new thing. The idea was that you would claim all these functions and therefore be in the running for jobs in any of the functions. Today that's a losing strategy. Figure out what you love to do and are good at, and brand yourself for just those jobs.
10. Finally, break the rule that says the real you, who are so much more than a bundle of skills and job titles, must stay hidden behind a thicket of impenetrable, fake, zombie-resume language. You have an incredible story no other human being has ever had or ever will.
Break some resume-writing rules, and see how it feels!
I predict your resume re-writing project will awaken something sleepy in you as you gradually remember how powerful you are. You are powerful — but only when you allow yourself to be yourself.