Get Off the Short List and Land that Job
What story does your résumé tell?
There is a lot of advice out there about writing a résumé. It’s a topic that everybody seems to have an opinion about. In fact, if you search “rules for writing an effective résumé,” you’ll receive over 46 million results, most of them claiming that by following their strategy, you will almost certainly get hired.
For instance, Expert #1 will tell you that you have to have an Objective Statement if you want to knock the socks off of prospective employers, but Expert #2 says it’s an outdated concept and will only take up precious space. Expert #3 thinks you should replace your Objective with a Summary Statement, and Expert #4 thinks all of this is codswallop and you don’t need either.
Thankfully, there were some rules that the experts could agree on; a seemingly standardized set of tips and tricks meant to elevate your résumé to the coveted status of “hire-able”:
- Tweak your formatting to make it easy to skim.
- Use powerful words such as Organized, Developed, Communicated, Resolved, Managed, etc…
- Customize your résumé to the job you’re applying to.
- Keep it to one page.
Are you bored yet? I certainly am.
When you face the facts, résumés are boring. Nobody likes reading them, to the point where most recruiters only spend an average of six seconds reviewing an individual résumé. They’re two-dimensional collections of facts; one-page documents that are meant to communicate the story of your professional experience via bulleted lists, strategic header placement, and the selective use of boldface type.
No matter how extraordinary you are, this is an incredibly dull means of telling a story.
A recruiter or a hiring manager isn’t reading your résumé to see if you’re qualified for the job, they’re scanning it for anything that’ll take you out of the running. Your résumé is there to disqualify you.
Résumés simply aren’t built to tell your full story. Unfortunately, ever since Leonardo Da Vinci crafted the first résumé 1482, it has become the primary document used in acquiring employment, because it’s a perfect tool for thinning the herd. A recruiter or a hiring manager isn’t reading your résumé to see if you’re qualified for the job, they’re scanning it for anything that’ll take you out of the running. Your résumé is there to disqualify you. This is why so much résumé-writing advice focuses on seemingly trivial aspects like font choice, formatting tweaks, and use of industry jargon, because these are the details that will send your résumé either to the trash, or to the hands of a decision-maker.
You need a résumé to get your foot in the door, but once you’ve made it to the short list and your shoe is firmly wedged in there, you’re still faced with the problem of differentiating yourself from the other candidates. While your résumé didn’t disqualify you, it’s probably not dissimilar from your competition’s, and if you all read the same advice, then that hiring manager is probably swimming in industry jargon and boldface type. What hiring managers really want is just an easy way to determine who will be the best fit for the position, so make their lives easier: give them actual evidence of what you can do by supplementing your résumé with a digital portfolio.
Your résumé may check the box, but your portfolio will tell the story you want them to hear.
Digital portfolios provide a space where individuals can curate the narrative of their experience for a specific audience. Rather than be limited to the one-page, flat format, individuals can tell the story they want their audience to hear using multimedia artifacts from all areas of their life and actual examples of their professional work: Writers can add links to their blog and past publications; Chefs can display images of their food and recipes they’ve created; Makers can illuminate all stages of a project from inception to completion.
Instead of depending on carefully articulated résumé jargon to get their message across, the digital format allows candidates to present proof of their skills and accomplishments using various forms of evidence. This can be especially helpful when candidates have limited work experience, such as somebody attempting to change careers or an individual who recently graduated from school, because they are able to clearly demonstrate practical and transferable skills that might not stand out on their résumé otherwise. Additionally, a digital portfolio does a much better job of revealing your personality than a résumé, so prospective employers who view your portfolio can get a picture of your values and passions, enabling them to better determine if you’d be a good fit for their company culture.
Supplementing your resume with a digital portfolio is the easiest, most effective way to not only check all the required boxes in your job search, but to also differentiate yourself and stand out. Don’t depend on résumé buzzwords and formatting tricks to get the attention of prospective employers. Your résumé may check the box, but your portfolio will tell the story you want them to hear.