Resume – Describing your work

I was recently asked by a friend to look over their resume. They were looking to make the jump from agency-side to client-side and wanted some pointers on how to distinguish what they did at 2 different companies, even though what they did was roughly the same in both roles.

The biggest thing we often battle with when we try to describe what it is that we do for work is speak about ourselves in generalities. Like most things in life it usually isn’t about WHAT we do, as HOW and WHY we do it. And equally as important, what our takeaways are from those situations.

I asked him what he wanted the reader to takeaway from his two positions. Instead of trying to describe the same tasks using different words between the 2 roles, I told him to put a focus to each of the roles. Sure you might have done almost exactly the same thing in both roles, but the reader doesn’t have to know that, nor do they care. For example, maybe the first role was about establishing systems, processes and mentoring other producers. While the second role was more tailored to business development skills or setting up operational infrastructures.

And that’s the tough part, choosing to exclude things. We have a tendency to want to include everything because we think the more we list and mention, the more impressive we look. But it’s actually those who effectively present the depth of their experiences that we take notice of.

That’s why editing is so difficult, it requires you to have a strong sense of the message you’re trying to convey. Most people don’t think of their resumes like a story or a film, they don’t think about their audience the way you would a storyteller. But that’s exactly what a resume is, a story. And that’s the beauty of a story, it doesn’t have to be for everyone. It just has to be the right story for the person who is actively searching for you and your story.

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