Why your resume doesn’t tell me who you are


Personal or corporate reputation comes down to two things: competence and character. So why is it your resume only reflects one – competence?

Think about your resume or those which come across your desk, how much do they really tell you about the candidate? Typically, not much at all. You must meet the candidate before you start to get a sense of their character or speak with a referee or have them undergo a battery of tests.

Why are resumes lagging in this way? Why have we ended up with a list of where you went to uni, your marks, what you studied, a list of your internships and then – if you have been in the workplace for a while – a laundry list of where you have worked and your achievements?

One of the most important things my company looks for when hiring is an alignment with our four values: grounded, restless, energised and united. In fact, so much so our questions are framed around these values.

But when I read someone’s resume, I see nothing about their purpose, their values nor what really drives them. I have no idea whether there will be a culture fit or not. And we all know how important that is for the employer and the candidate alike.

Our resumes are failing us and the workplace

Resumes tell us half the story and probably the least important part of the story.

How have we ended up a) in a hiring environment where, in some industries, the first filter is your Weighted Average Mark (WAM) or Grade Point Average (GPA). Or b) and worst still, a computer program which filters out resumes based on certain keywords and phrases.

I call it characterless hiring.

Having interviewed hundreds of candidates in my 30 years in the Public Relations industry I know the best candidates are often the ones who have a clear drive or purpose and an alignment of values with the firm, none of which I can glean from a resume.

Something must change. There is a massive mismatch in how people are hiring and what your resume tells potential employers about you. But I’m not sure it will…

Blockchain and your resume

In a recent article, PwC talked about how Blockchain could address the nagging worry by hiring managers that candidates misrepresent their skills and achievements. They do this by verifying candidates’ accomplishments from the actual sources, such as the university or company who previously hired them.

The beauty of this is Blockchain then digitally stores this without the candidates being able to alter it.

PwC points out this takes away the need to verify the credentials.

Make no mistake I think this is awesome for verification purposes and to cut out those who lie on their resumes, but it still doesn’t address the issue of who are you really.

Can I believe your narrative on your resume?

Some resumes do summarise who and what you are, the question is are they accurate and believable? Is the summary authentic? I worry many are not and here’s why.

Not only are there hundreds of articles on Google about ‘powerful personality traits’ you should put on your resume or ‘20 personality traits that will get you hired’, but recruiters too vet candidates and advise them what to put in their resume.

I think the best way to write your resume is to write authentically about your purpose, your values and what you bring to the workplace. Then have members of your family read it to see if it does reflect who you are, have former work colleagues read it and make extra comments or get input from a previous boss with whom you worked.

Another good way to do this is to use, if your previous employers used them, your performance review feedback from peers, reports and managers and have their comments reflected in your narrative.

The world has changed, and your resume needs to show this

We work in a hiring context which is increasingly focused on diversity in the workplace. Unfortunately, the way resumes are currently structured is discriminatory in this regard – there is too much weight placed on your marks, where you went to university, in which country you gained your qualifications, and where you have previously worked, etc.

It’s time for the resume revolution. Times have changed and the cumbersome, static and lifeless resumes of yesterday need to change as well.

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