If You Want to Get the Job, You Don’t Need a Resume — You Need a Value Proposition


Picture this — two people want a job at a growing startup.

Person one sends in his application and resume. He’s confident, because he’s put hours into it, digging up every award, achievement and accolade to his name since high school. He’s confident because on paper, he looks like the ideal candidate. He was the captain of his sports teams and the senior class president. He made excellent grades in college and he studied abroad. He interned for a political campaign. He’s a natural leader, his resume says, and he works well with others. He’s a shoe in, everyone tells him.

But he doesn’t realize that hundreds of others applying have the same, or similar, resume. They’ve all jumped through the hoops, played by the same rules, interned here and there. They’ve all been told their entire lives that they’re the best and brightest — their resumes speak for themselves, they think.

Person two sends an application, but it’s different from all the others. The resume is there, but it’s restrained. He included only enough to let the team know about him, but not enough to distract them from what he wants them to focus on — his value proposition. He spent the days leading up to the application learning about the business, its industry, its digital presence, its successes and its failures.

He asked himself, “What can I do, Day 1 on the job, to create value for this company? What can I do long term that justifies bringing me on board?” He’s not afraid to tell them, “Here’s what I would be doing differently. Here’s how I would do things better than you’re doing them now.” He identifies and outlines a few of these and offers some relevant skills he has and steps he would take towards accomplishing them.

His application is NOT just about him, it’s about them. It’s about the things they know they need and the things they don’t yet know they need, and how he would create both if he were on the team.

Who do you think gets hired?

Here’s the thing…

Your resume doesn’t mean as much as it used to.

The credential you paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for? Most people applying have one.

That study abroad semester where you partied your way across Europe? You aren’t unique.

That “A” you got on a term paper? So did the other applicants.

You did Greek life? Great, that tells me very little.

We live in a period of resume inflation.

When you apply to a job, you’re competing with hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are, on paper, just as qualified as you.

So if you want that job, if you want to stand out, if you want to be the person that is “a shoe in,” you don’t need a resume, you need a value proposition.


Derek is the Director of Digital Strategy at Praxis and blogs regularly on his personal website.

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