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The Purpose of a Resume

While having coffee with a student who is considering a career shift into human resources, we reviewed her resume. There was a lot of information included and, honestly, if I’d received it in response to a posted ad I don’t believe I would have read it in its entirety. There were so many words. She asked me to review it and I did. I quickly lost interest, however, and told her so.

A light bulb went off as we discussed the purpose of a resume—which is to get an interview. She thought the purpose of writing such a detailed resume was to get a job. No, no, no, I told her. Your resume should compel a recruiter to want to speak with you, to learn more about you, to determine if you might be the right fit for their culture. And during the interview, you will decide if that employer offers what you want in a job and in an employer. Ultimately, after your interviews are complete and you receive a job offer, you will decide whether or not that employer has done a good job attracting someone—you—who likes what they have to offer.

Understanding this, she then moved our discussion to her qualifications. She wondered what qualifications she should include in her resume that would identify her as someone with job-relevant experience. I suggested to her that it’s not necessarily about what she is qualified to do; rather, it’s what the hiring manager will hire her to do. This was something she’d never considered. I know because she wanted to remember it and wrote it down.

If we do only work we are qualified to do, we will close the door to new opportunities, to failure, to invention. We will simply keep on doing what we’ve already done. Sure, do what you’re good at, bu then try some other stuff, too!

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