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Let me tell you a story. Did your ears prick up? Are you paying attention now? Whether it's watching TV or a movie, reading a book, or hanging around the water cooler to hear tales from your colleagues, we love stories. Related: 5 Tips To Make Your Resume Stand Out Why? Science says it's because stories developed as an efficient way of communicating. But that doesn't really explain why we love them. It's because stories connect us. They touch our hearts and minds in a way that feels familiar. And that familiarity bonds the reader to the storyteller, even if just for a few minutes. That's what you want your resume to do. You want to tell a story that bonds you to the reader long enough for them to pick up the phone and call you. This is a powerful strategy taken directly out of the playbook of the best professional resume writers. It is a strategy that I use extensively in my professional resume writing company, to produce extraordinary results for my clients. Use story-telling techniques to create a resume that's compelling and captures the hearts and minds of employers.

Know your audience.

No matter what you're writing, knowing the audience is critical. A children's story is drastically different than a science-fiction epic. An executive summary is written at a high-level to provide information without details whereas a training manual provides details to ensure it includes all the information. Different audiences, different writing. The mistake often made with resume writing is assuming too broad an audience. When you create a resume, imagine yourself as the person you want reading it. Think about what they're looking for and let that inform every part. And make sure you know yourself. What's your focus? Your summary statement should reflect what job you want and in what industry. It's the core of your resume story - your personal brand.

Think of your accomplishments as stories and turn them into memorable narratives.

Once you've hooked your reader with your summary, deliver on that promise. The essence of your personal brand isn't in the companies you worked for or how long you worked there, or even what your title was. Your personal brand is defined by what you accomplished in each position. To make sure your reader stays with you, turn those accomplishments into stories. Create meaningful narratives that illustrate your potential and showcase your personal brand's value add throughout your career. Simple, right? It's actually not as hard as you think. Write each narrative using the CARS formula:


What challenges or problems did you face? How did these negatively impact your employer? Create an emotional connection.


What actions did you take to meet these challenges? Describe them with power verbs: developed, implemented, revamped.


What were the results of your actions? Use numbers whenever possible.

Strategic Impact

What overall, bottom-line, big-picture benefit did the employer experience as a result of your work? (Examples: prevented company from failing, reversed a sales decline, rejuvenated the public image).

Remember your audience.

When you create a resume, story telling helps you find that emotional, compelling center, but you can't forget for whom you're writing. Hiring managers are often inundated with resumes – it's critical that yours highlights your accomplishments succinctly. Turn your narrative into a power statement. Example: The company was experiencing high employee turnover. As HR manager, I implemented career training which aided in retaining employees and became a cornerstone of the company's program for recruiting new employees. Power statement: Implemented career training and increased employee retention by 100% in two years. Established training as primary recruiting perk. Then use resume-writing techniques to present your targeted story:
  1. Tight, powered statements
  2. Most applicable accomplishments first
  3. Irrelevant information left out or abbreviated.
Stories connect us. Use story-telling when you create a resume to make that connection and capture the attention of your future employer.

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About the author

Michelle Dumas founded Distinctive Career Services, LLC (formerly Distinctive Documents) in 1996, one of the Internet's longest-standing resume writing, personal branding, and career marketing firms. As one of only a handful of multiple certified professional resume writers, including the prestigious NCRW, CPRW, CPBS, CEIP, and JCTC credentials, Michelle is widely respected as an authority in the resume writing and employment services industries. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert.
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