A Curated Collection of Headlines
So what is the best resume we talked about made from? I define it as follows:
A curated collection of headlines about your past achievements.
The parts of this definition make up the framework I use to compose resumes.
Each of these three words is chosen carefully:
The definition is easy to remember and say out loud. Each word defines one of my guiding principles, which I unpack below.
The goal isn't to summarize everything you have ever done. If it was, you would be writing a memoir, not a resume.
Using a resume as a biographical record, even remotely so, spells disaster.
You always have more lived experience than you can fit on a page. It is important to be ruthlessly selective about what experiences you choose to include.
Curate the content that delivers the impressions you want to make. That is the cost of entry to the page. Make each word pay the cost of admission.
This means that before you even start writing, you need a concrete list of skills you intend to portray. The cost of admission is: does this word add to or detract from the clear description of one of the skills on your list?
I use this word in the same sense one might use to describe a "collection" of paintings, or rare baseball cards.
Collections imply uniformity. A sense of cohesion up and down the list of bullet points.
The individual items are unique, but taken as a whole, their collective value exceeds the sum of the individual parts.
If the word "curate" mentioned above is about what to exclude, the collection emphasizes what to include.
If you scissored your resume into strips, each snippet having a single bullet point from the page, and you drew from this "collection" at random out of a top-hat, would you be comfortable with a recruiter seeing only that single line and no others?
If the answer is no, it's out of the collection.
Headlines are necessarily brief. They are incredibly easy to read. They're often written in broken english.
Yet, somehow, they clearly and concisely summarize to us what the whole story is about.
The important qualities of a good headline are:
Headlines spark curiosity. They imply that the story they represent is worth hearing about in the first place. Each bullet point should be designed to spark an entire conversation.
Notice what isn't part of the definition. We make no mention of sections, like Education or Leadership or Experience.
We say nothing about job titles, or formatting, or margins, or columns, or templates.
Those details have their place, but they pale in comparison to the headlines.
We aren't biographers, and we aren't typographers. We will focus on the select few details that make a compelling story, and express them concisely.