Tell Your Story In The Resume!

The Fates At Work

The Fates At Work

On Tuesday, July 21, I celebrated existing one more year on earth. Now, that isn’t news. People do that when they meet the anniversary of their birth every year. However, as you know, I consider birthdays–or whatever day you want it to be–a “personal new year”. This is prime time for stepping back and examining the progress of the grand tapestry of a lifetime. Right now, the pattern of “personal story” is on the loom.

Many of the tales I tell in “Victoree’s Blog” apply directly to the workplace–even the ones thought to be for children. There are several places in the hiring process where telling a personal tale wells can truly make the “personal brand” outstanding to a potential employer.

For example, look at how another of my favorite blogs, “The Human Workplace”, puts an interesting spin on the ancient (moldy) resume using personal story:

There is an author and speaker I met at my job club, Lorn Epstein, who takes the personal story into the interview with flag flying excellence. One of his books is “You’re Hired!” on

I hated it when Lorn Epstein came to CNM (Career Network Ministries) in my neighborhood, Tysons, VA because good speaker/seminar leader Mr. Epstein invariably led a storytelling exercise. He would direct participants to create S.O.A.R. stories, or S.T.A.R. stories (Situation, Opportunity, Action, Result). These are non-fiction stories about accomplishments at work. Mine seldom made the cut because they usually began with a negative statement. In telling the personal story for the workplace, even ahes-on-the-head tradgedies should have a positive slant. Oh, yes–it goes beyond personality (introvert or extrovert) but has everything to do with knowledge and skill. The nature and acquisition of that skill is grist for more thoughts about the personal story.



yellow light!Some resumes do not say, “come to a screeching halt”, but “advance with extreme caution”. These are the “yellow lights” potential employers pick up on in resumes. There are very good books and articles available in the market on-line and off about what to do about resume “red flags” or “red lights” (like an incarceration event), or the leaping red flares that signal that an applicant will not be a great hiring choice. My purpose is to update the list of things that make potential employers suspicious.

World Wide Job Gypsies

Not only has this applicant traveled from job to job, breaking camp every 1/2-2 years, but has gone “from sea to shining sea”. Movement from job to job has no recognizable pattern. Career movements appear unplanned.

Whip and Buggy Era email address

Applicant email address still has @AOL or @hotmail at the end of it. Yellow light: this person does not care about keeping technological knowledge and skills current.

Cannot be found on Social Media

Applicant either has a LinkedIn profile without a picture or no LinkedIn profile at all. Applicant has no presence on Google+, Facebook or anyplace else on-line.

Applicant cannot be “texted”

Probable technology phobic and still uses a “flip phone”. Scared to use smart phones or is averse to learning new things, so cannot be linked into any extra-office sharing system.

Snail paced career movement

Applicant served in one job more than 5 years at one company with no forward movement (no upgrades in responsibility/titles).

Grand Canyons

Huge time gaps between positions. Possible incarceration events, protracted health challenges or recovery episodes? Oh, this is going to be a discussion, but not in any interview at this company!

Take care of the “yellow lights” to keep them from turning into “red lights” that can really stop the progress of a career.

Resume, Resume, Wherefore Art Thou, Resume?

Wherefore art thou, resume?

Wherefore art thou, resume?

Is it possible to add one more word on the blasted heaths about resumes?

Why, of course! Over the years resumes have morphed from roughly hacked tombstones into personal epics. Here’s what I mean: many folk take their names, contact information and data about all the jobs held, slap them on a nice piece of paper in crisply starched, latest fashionable language and call it a resume. Beware of unscrupulous resume writing professionals who do this too (and charge tall lettuce for it!). Feh! Boring,uninteresting, ineffective and just like all the thousands of others recruiters take a 5-second blink at. Having a resume that looks like all the others in the pile on a recruiter’s desk is the fastest way for it to get crumpled into a wastebasket ball.

Consider that the resume is only one move in the job mating dance. The dance is a series of steps calculated to move the seeker closer to the goal–the interview. That is exactly why a resume should be the most wonderful crown of feathers or the sweetest song or something that makes the dancer different and gets positive attention. Look at this: the very hottest place to “do your dance” these days is on a YouTube video. Some headdress!

The 21st century twist on the basic job search mating dance is the addition of social media to the marketing mix. That’s right: marketing mix. “Resume” can be interpreted, “sales brochure” because a job search is at its core a well thought out and executed marketing campaign. That makes the job seeker not only the product maker but the Project Manager as well.  So, today’s effective, hard-hitting job search campaign will include an updated resume, a clean Facebook view, a Twitter feed and a fully optimized LinkedIn profile. Add to that a website/online portfolio for artists and writers. Next time, how about a closer look at the challenges the “new job search” present and how to handle them?

I’ll Never Work For Free, But I Will Always Volunteer

One piece of advice to the long-term unemployed always used to stick in my craw: volunteering. When you get older, you get jealous about  stewarding wisely the most precious commodity you own– your time (we’ll discuss your physical energy later).

Frankly, no amount of green slips of paper will ever be enough to exchange for a moment of my life. Time is a non-renewable resource.  In my grief over long-term unemployment I told myself I had nothing so I could not afford to give. Brimming with resentment, I felt pressured to go somewhere; anywhere and do something; anything just to say to the state government or job search counselors that I was indeed “doing something” about making myself look better to employers (who suck in their breath when they see a missing year on a resume).

Let me whisper something while you and I “are met” on this plane: there is a difference between volunteering and working for free. Working for free is something you feel obligated to do “for marketing purposes”. Working for free is  working someplace without pay, resenting being there in your deepest heart, all the while watching the clock, giving people a “toothpaste grin”, hoping “the right people” will see you or read your resume.

Volunteering is  doing real work somebody would pay you for, but you choose to donate the market value of your time to the service of something or somebody you love. Time flies by. You get joyfully worn out by day’s end. You dream about the next day; how you can make things run better; how you can streamline processes. If you don’t watch yourself, you may cut into the time you “should” be looking for paid employment. This kind of work gives you energy instead of draining you of energy. Just remind yourself to note the day’s little victories in your “brag story book” (read the last post. You’ll know what to do).

These days, I listen with different ears when anybody in my network mentions “volunteering”. The right volunteer position is a win-win blessing. Go to that cause or that issue which presses your heart buttons whether to do the Komen walk for the cure or  sit another job seeker’s child while she goes to an interview.  Right now, I’m helping fight homelessness, hunger and helplessness in the Washington DC area. What are you doing? Honey, you know what I feel about trading away my time for money.

I’ll never work “for free”, but I will always volunteer.