IT's All About Your Stories!
In my desire to help clients present their value proposition with force and uniqueness, I have developed the concept of an Inductive résumé. The message in an Inductive résumé induces its reader to believe you can do what you claim in your Career Objective based on how you present your “proof.” There are three characteristics about its design that separate it from the traditional résumé; I humorously call it the Jurassic résumé:
First, it is about tomorrow, and not yesterday;
Second, it verbally showcases what is unique about you (your verbal brand); and
Third, it presents your stories that define what kind of a leader you are in your work
The first element of an Inductive résumé being about tomorrow is achieved by replacing the Summary part at the top of most Jurassic résumés with a Career Objective that concisely articulates what you plan to do in your job or career you are seeking. Contrasted to a Summary statement, which typically lists all the things you have done in the past, leaving the reader in a somewhat confused state (“what do you REALLY want to do?”), starting with a Career Objective leaves not doubt in the readers’ minds what you are seeking. Despite some objections from recruiters and others I found this to be a meaningful change in how a résumé presents its message to the decision maker—the hiring manager.
The second differentiating element of an Inductive résumé is your Unique Skills. This section captures your verbal brand in the form of your genius (we ALL have it; we just need to do some introspection on how to verbalize it to make it credible and appealing). It is extracted from the leadership stories (which is the third characteristic of this design) that are presented to showcase your genius. This is based on the belief that whenever we engage in our genius we create an Aha! in whatever we do. It is this Aha! story that you want to tell in your résumé to showcase your genius and to show what type of leader you are!
Now, coming to the third and the most important part of the Inductive résumé, narrating your leadership stories in a concise, bulleted form is what separates the Inductive design from its Jurassic counterpart. Most traditional résumé bullets are one- or two-line statements that showcase the tasks you have handled in your previous jobs. If you now move from narrating these tasks to listing your accomplishments, then these bullets take on a life quite different from their task counterparts. They now come to life and present themselves in a much more compelling way to their reader. A good metaphor would be moving from reading a phone book to reading a great novel. Here is an example:
As the new Regional Manager set up quotas and increased sales by 12% in the first year.
Identified why customers were delaying sales and were defecting. Shifted account focus from transactional selling to relationship building and installed three major changes that quickly resulted in revenue increase of 12% in the first year alone, despite a severe downturn.
Writing such stories takes discipline, introspection, and having done hard work to achieve such stellar results in the first place. In my practice I have developed tools for clients to tell their stories in a structured way, so that not only can they invoke their past accomplishments in a compelling way, but they also discipline themselves to carry out all their future work to be able to narrate such stories forcefully. In other words, they become more engaged in their everyday work!
When it comes to narrating such stories there are two types of stories one encounters: Stories that are derived from the accomplishments that have high organizational visibility on the one hand, and those that have high impact on the other. To make an impactful résumé one must choose to narrate high-impact stories in preference to high-visibility stories.
High visibility stories give you opportunities to get involved in situations where you can get access to higher-level management and executives in your company. There is nothing wrong in taking on such assignments, but the problem there is that, because of the high level of politics invariably involved in such situations, it is difficult to clearly take credit for the true accomplishment in such cases. Although you get visibility for your efforts, what you accomplish may not always be that noteworthy in a résumé.
High impact assignments are just those; they have high impact in the organization in terms of how it affects others or something that is measurable in a traditional way. So, when it comes to picking your résumé stories stick to your high-impact stories and leave the high-visibility stories for your Annual Review.