Do you remember the last movie you saw? Was it a romance? A comedy? A great action thriller? Movies stick with us because they tell stories and our brains tend to think in story lines. Stories have conflict, rising actions and resolutions - all of which help to create a solid picture in our memories.
The next time you sit down to write your resume, use the secret of storytelling to make your resume stick with potential employers and win more interviews.
1. Identify the conflict: Write a personal branding statement
Just like every story needs a strong conflict for the hero to overcome, every employer has a conflict he needs resolved. Does he need more sales? Better office management? A tech solution? Your first job when writing a resume is to determine the biggest conflict, or problem, your target employer needs solved and present yourself as the solution. The best place to do this is in the branding statement which should sit at the top of your resume. This is the first thing a potential employer sees and expresses how you meet his most immediate need. To write an interview-winning branding statement, include who you are, your top 3 skills, your specialty, and center it at the top of your resume just below your name and contact information.
2. Be the hero: Include a summary
Once a story establishes a conflict, the hero needs to perform a series of rising actions which lead him towards solving the problem. The next section of your resume, the summary, is where you can show a potential employer how you can “be his hero.” In a well-written resume, the summary includes the skills, experiences, and attributes that you will bring to the job. Research the specific needs of the company you are applying to and make sure your skills match. Do not over-do it though. Aim for 10 to 15 concise bullet points that highlight how you can solve the employer's most pressing problems. Once the conflict has been addressed and the skills to solve it are shown, the stage is set for the resolution.
3. Save the day: Your work history
The resolution is where our hero wins the day. This is how you should view your work history: as the proof of how you have won in the past and can do it again for your target employer. With this frame in mind it is important to only include those things which directly address the conflict. Just as editors will leave more movie footage on the cutting room floor than ends up in the finished version of the film, you need to be a bit ruthless with your own professional history. Your resume should not be a personal biography. It should be a brief and concise document that shows how you can solve the most pressing needs of your potential employer.
Conflict, rising actions and resolution are the 3 most important aspects of good storytelling. This is the secret hiding in your local movieplex that can help job seekers to win more interviews. And the best thing? You can be the writer, director and star of your own career blockbuster.
Steve Brady is a 10 year veteran resume writer and freelance writer who runs Quality Resumes, a full service writing business.