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When you think of a resume, the first things that probably come to mind are clear sections, short sentences, and bulleted lists. How about a story, though? Surely, resume writing is considered to be more technical and less creative, but applying storytelling in resumes has proven to help candidates secure interview offers.
Storytelling in a resume is a way of writing a compelling narrative of your job experience. This helps grab recruiters’ attention during the few seconds that they spend on your resume and establish a relationship with them. The main focus of using this approach is establishing a connection with the reader and adding credibility to your actions.
One of the prerequisites for incorporating storytelling into your resume is knowing the difference you’ve made with your skills and expertise. It is pivotal for you to know that you’re good at what you do and capable of being an asset to your target employer. In other words, if you want to create a story in your resume, this story should tell why you’re a great candidate. Decision-makers find story-based resumes more memorable than the ones that simply list your job experience.
How to use storytelling in your resume
While storytelling sounds creative, it doesn’t mean there are no rules at all. There is a “right” way to add the right words to your resume. In this section, we’ll discuss how to use storytelling in your resume to make a long-lasting impression on your potential employers.
a) Write an achievement-oriented resume
A resume that plainly lists your past experience without explaining the value you added to each employer won’t help you stand out from the crowd. This is where storytelling plays a key role. Adding storytelling to your resume means describing every situation, character, plot, and setting of your experience. This is impactful because the reader gets a deeper understanding of what you’ve done and how you have contributed to your previous employer.
One of the best ways to do this is to use the STAR approach when describing your professional experience section. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Tasks, Action, and Result. With this approach, you can highlight the results of your actions. It is best to qualify your achievements for credibility.
Eg: “Headed all facets of operational management; developed business growth initiatives, led a team of 300, and cultivated a positive work environment; turned around a loss of $ Xk to a profit of $ Yk within a year of employment with higher employee productivity and performance”
The above example successfully explains the entire scenario to the reader and clarifies your specific achievements. Keep in mind to use keywords relevant to the job description and unique action verbs that focus on your actions. Some of the words that you could use to make an impact are orchestrated, led, spearheaded, oversaw, and outperformed.
b) Inject your personality into your resume
Storytelling is a great way to show your personality in your resume. This helps recruiters see through your attitude and character which can give you an edge over the rest of the candidates. Remember, though, that you should stick to the professional aspects of your personality. Your goal is to show how you can add value to the team.
Use examples like “Spearheaded the advertising project; designed the advertising strategy for international clients, led a team of 12 partners, and coached and motivated them; resulted in higher productivity and overall profitability”
In the above statement, you’ve described your role while also highlighting your experience as a team manager and project leader. Recruiters and hiring managers who read this example are more likely to start thinking about how leadership and coaching skills you’ve demonstrated in your previous team could benefit their teams, as well.
Another good place to show your strengths and expertise is the professional summary of your resume. You can begin this section by describing yourself with three adjectives followed by your experience.
Eg: “Self-starter, strategic, and analytical marketing manager with 10+ years of experience.” OR
“Motivated, business-minded, and driven entrepreneur with a knack for innovation and product development.”
The above examples serve as nice introductions to your career history — and they’re unique as they describe who you are. With a statement like that, you can grab readers’ attention and motivate them to spend more time on your resume, thus, increasing your chances of qualifying for the next hiring stage.
c) Complement your resume with your cover letter and LinkedIn profile
What do your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile have in common? They’re all tools for you to secure your dream job. One of the important things to remember is to sound like the same person in each of these places. Storytelling can be a great tool to create this consistent and rich content.
When writing your resume, you have some limitations when it comes to how much you can share. Nobody is going to read a 5-page resume, after all. But if you use the storytelling techniques mentioned above to talk about your skills, then your cover letter could describe some more specific examples from your experience that showcase those same skills.
Likewise, Linkedin is an optimal place to share your professional ideas and thoughts on current events. Recruiters often check candidates’ LinkedIn profiles, so you can show them that when you say on your resume you’re “passionate” about a field, you really mean it.
Storytelling is not only a powerful tool for your resume, but it can also be helpful at the next stage, namely the interview. Your story and the way you express your personality could be a great talking point between you and your interviewer.
Using a resume template with boilerplate sections and text could be a convenient shortcut, but faster isn’t always successful. Writing a job-winning resume takes effort, critical thinking, and creativity. But at the end of the day, this is what will make you memorable and have an impact on the decision-makers.