Are You A Victim Of Your Own Resume?

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It’s a sheet of paper.  Really, just a sheet of paper.  Sometimes if you’re getting crazy, it stretches to two sheets of paper.  Many employers judge you on that piece of paper.  That’s it.  In or out.  The funny thing is, we all know that.  It has been that way for years.  And while as ridiculous as the concept is, it’s the truth.  It’s the way the game is played in many organizations around the world.

We know recruiters, employers and human resources departments put an emphasis on our resumes, many applicants continue with the norm of producing carbon copy resumes.  There is this fear that if their resume doesn’t look like the next guy’s, theirs will be tossed to the side because it’s different.  Many applicants will research resume templates from software providers, spend hours looking at resumes online, “pin” resumes on Pinterest and ask peers for their resumes.  I agree these are great ways to get ideas for the design of your resume, I believe many are losing focus of what their resume needs to say about them.

We live in a competitive world.  When applying for a position, you are competing against other applicants for the position.  Instead of looking like the people you are competing against, its important to set yourself apart by what’s actually in your resume.  Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can become, as Eric Thomas says, the victor and not the victim when trying to get jobs.


  1. Highlight Concrete Examples

Everyone has examples of leadership experiences throughout their lives.  The problem is, not enough people reflect on those experiences.  Everyone needs to reflect on what they do each day.  Break your days down into 5 minute increments.  Mentally walk through your day or write in a journal what your day consisted of.  What did you do to lead during the day?  Share your examples on your resume of the types of leadership responsibilities you experience.


  1. The Cream Rises to the Top

According to TheLadders research, recruiters spend 6 seconds on resumes before they decide whether an applicant would be a good fit or not.  It’s vital to put your best experiences at the top of your resume.  From what I often see, many applicants don’t do this.

Applicants love to put their education history at the top of their resume.  Why?  Everyone has a bachelor’s degree if you are applying for a position like a teacher or principal.  If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, put your best leadership experiences at the top of your resume.  As award-winning author and speaker on business communications skills Danny Rubin states, your resume is about highlighting “Skills. Skills. Skills.”


  1. But “They” Said….

When I ask applicants why their resume is only 1 page, about 95% of them respond, “That’s what ‘they’ told me to do.”  “They” always covers a variety of people such as teachers, colleges, recruiting services, peers, the list goes on and on.  I don’t know why people would cram all of  their life experiences on one piece of paper.  Don’t do that.  Be different.  Reflect on your experiences and share them in an organized manner that showcases your skills and experiences.  Tell your story, make it compelling, increase your font size and make it more than one page.  It will pay off in the long run.


  1. Have a Strategy

You need to have a plan when you create your resume.  Your resume should tell your story.  In an interview, the resume can be your outline, your guide.  Organize your most important experiences to lead off your resume.  Include statements or keywords that demonstrate what you value, what you believe in.  Continue with other important sections of your resume that define you and illustrate why you’re the best candidate: awards, memberships or organizations you have joined, special skills you have and leadership experiences.  Visualize how your interview will flow and how you will tell your story.
Don’t let the fear of being unique stop you from telling your story.  As Seth Godin says, “You are not your resume, you are your work.”   Be different.  Follow the steps above and separate yourself from others.  As a candidate who is looking to get more out interviews, resumes and your personal network, check out our Future Leaders Institute in Columbus, OH in May 2017.  It can help you become a better leader and get an edge over others competing for teaching and leadership positions around the country.