What’s Your Story?

What's Your Story? - Mike Perry

I continue to speak with people who are very frustrated with the lack of activity/success in their respective job searches. I know one of the main reasons why that is, but most folks don’t want to hear it or become exasperated when I tell them that:

Their resumes are boring.


Over the last few weeks, I’ve done a number of resume reviews for some of our clients, relatives, and attendees at presentations I’ve made at job seekers’ groups. With all of the resumes I reviewed, not even one of those documents would have caused me, as a hiring manager, to schedule the respective candidate for a phone screen or first interview. Not one.

Why? The resumes read like a mundane job description vs. an engaging “story” about the candidates’ skills, competencies and accomplishments–customized to the criteria noted in the description for the job they were seeking.

Ultimately, the story should tell me why I’m going to look like a genius for hiring them and how they are going to help my team go from good to great.

The employment landscape is still a buyer’s market–even with the unemployment rate at 4.1% (November 2017), with hiring managers continuing to exercise their right to be quite picky and deliberate regarding their ultimate candidate selection (by the way, virtually every hiring manger in my network continues to report receiving dozens of and sometimes a hundred or more resumes per posted job opening–just because the unemployment rate is low doesn’t mean people stopped seeking “the greener grass”).


Thus, one of the first objectives of every job seeker should be to put as much distance between themselves and their competition as is possible, and that most often begins with the resume.

The resume is your “novel,” the story of “you” and why you, the candidate, should be one of the few people selected (from the stack of resumes received) that will be called for a phone screen or to schedule the first in-person interview. Think of it this way: when you go into a book store there are hundreds of books from which to choose, but you only budgeted to purchase one. The book selected has to be something that really sync’s up with your criteria for a “great read.” Something that you’re excited to tell others you purchased. Thus it is with resumes and hiring managers.

Here are some of the key components that will make your resume a “great read” for the intended employer.


Key Achievement bullet points that speak to what you accomplished at your previous employers, NOT what you “did” (duties & responsibilities).

Demonstrate clearly, using specific examples, how you applied the skills and competencies listed in the job description to produce exceptional outcomes/results and why they were considered to be such.


Provide perspective for each accomplishment.

Include factors/metrics that describe timeframes, rankings, awards, recognition (i.e., don’t just tell me that you “increased sales by 30%”) Tell me that you “increased sales by $5,000,000 or 30% in 90 days, which was the shortest period of time needed to achieve that level of growth amongst the 15 members of the sales team, resulting in recognition by the CEO as Sales Leader of the Quarter.

How do you think that compares to other candidates whose bullet point reads, “Built strong relationships that resulted in an increase in sales”? Incorporating the use of perspective/context of comparison into your accomplishments will do much to separate you from the other candidates.


Content customized to the specific criteria being sought by the hiring manager for the job you are seeking.

Folks, cookie cutter resumes are not going to get any hiring manager excited about the prospect of you working for them. This also means only relevant information is included in your resume. Multiple employers can each post a job – let’s say each is seeking a Project Manager – but, just because the job title is the same, the required skills and traits being sought can be and often are slightly to significantly different as each hiring manager has his/her own biases/perspective on what is the “ideal” Project Manager candidate.

Thus, if you apply for 10 Project Manager openings, you should have 10 resumes, with each customized to the specific employer’s job description.


Enable me to visualize you as a “game-changer” on my team

Clearly demonstrate why you have been such while at past employers, in similar situations/environments to that found in my organization. Again, how are you going to help my team improve/go from “good to great”?

Recently I met with a job seeker who had held a high level sales position at a very large company. Her resume did not reflect what I believed to be (after meeting and speaking with her) the level of sales skills to support her verbalized accomplishments.

I reminded her that hiring managers and HR recruiters have to rely on the resume – without her in the room to explain what each bullet point really means, to learn enough in order to decide to schedule an interview or send a “No thanks” letter. Her story – as told by the resume–fell flat and was not engaging to me, the hiring manager. I would not have spent more than 20-30 seconds or so on this person’s resume if submitted to me for consideration. And, there would have been no interview scheduled.

We discussed how, with some revamping using the concepts noted above, her resume could become a great read for hiring managers and recruiters.

In a job search, every candidate becomes a salesperson, and, he/she is the “product” being sold. The “features” of the product are the candidate’s skills, competencies, experience, drive, enthusiasm, passion and ability to apply the skills being sought to produce outstanding results. The benefits of the product are the many ways in which my team/group/division will be better because of bringing the candidate on board, and thus why I’m going to look really smart for doing so.


So, time to write your “best seller.”
What’s your story?