Last summer, I wrote a post, “To Get a Job, Tell Your Story.” I was making a point that resumes should avoid trite, hackneyed language in favor of candidates telling the story of their career – what makes them uniquely of interest to employers. But a post yesterday by my colleague and friend, Bob McIntosh, brought the topic front and center. Bob shared an article from his blog and invited me to comment on it; my comment lead to further comments, and a lively discussion was started about how to write a resume and whether or not it’s okay to use the first person pronoun in telling the story of your career.
Bob’s article gave reasons as to why he had come around to recommending the use of first person pronouns in resumes – a strategy I’ve been using with great success for the past two years. In my comment, I corroborated his points and added a few of my own. But another person’s response really startled me:
The whole point of omitting the personal pronouns is to make it impersonal . This is business, not a Tinder profile
While I agree that resumes must convey high professional standards, I’m taken aback by the conflation between a personal approach to the job search – and Tinder. To say that I think this person has it wrong is putting it mildly.
Storytelling does have its place in the realm of business. Don’t conflate storytelling with touchy/feely-ness; it’s not. In a resume, it’s the art of weaving in the candidate’s skills, background and value proposition into a (very short) first person narrative. It’s a much more effective technique than listing a bunch of keywords or “core competencies. Don’t get me wrong – I include keywords and core competency words, too as a way to appease the ATS gods, but I bury them further down where the algorithm will find them anyway; my goal is for the human being reading the resume to recognize a candidate worth calling in for an interview.
After all, when candidates are brought in for an interview, do they refer to themselves in the third person, using hackneyed phrases like “proven leader,” or “team player?” No, of course not. They offer examples of projects that they are proud of; they describe things that didn’t go as planned, and what was learned from the failure. Interviews are about forging a connection between the candidate and the hiring manager, and that’s what a first person resume accomplishes – the opportunity to connect with the reader.
So feel free to tell the story of your career in your resume. There’s no good reason to wait until the interview to show the person behind the skill set. In fact, I’m willing to bet that a first person narrative at the beginning of your resume will get you even more interviews – and jump start the next step in your career.