A resume is supposed to showcase your skills, but in the default format, the most eye-catching information is the companies you worked for. Things you’ve done are clustered underneath each title, hoping to be viewed even for a moment by the busy person skimming it. If your goal is to showcase skills and experiences, rather than the pedigree of your past employers, the current format feels flawed —especially since company pedigree can get you 90% callbacks even with nonsense bullet points about STDs and coffee beans 🤮 . It’s time for an adjustment.
If you search for ‘resume’ or ‘resume examples’ and look at the results , you’ll start to notice a pattern emerging. There’s plenty of variation, but the average is roughly:
What is wrong with this format? First, the skills section is just terms relevant to the career, providing no actual information to the reader. Anyone can search around and find words to add to this section; it has no value. Some people get cute and add percentages or progress bars, but without a standard measure saying you are “65% - Google Analytics” means nothing.
The other problem is the emphasis on company name vs your experiences. Resumes are skimmed in just 7 seconds , and the human eye is drawn to the short, big, & bold company names, not your accomplishments. When reading articles online, are you drawn to the bold words and headings, or the paragraphs of text?
If a resume is really meant to show off your experience and not the pedigree of companies you’ve worked for, the standard format needs a change up. Here is one possible layout:
Skills & Experience
The big change here is taking the Skills section, which previously offered little to no value, and combining it with the work experiences. Now when someone is skimming, instead of brushing off Skills as a cliché buzzword list, there is evidence to back them up. Soft skills such as ‘Leadership’ or ‘hard-working’ can be used without looking like a middle schooler. The best resumes tell a story , with this layout you can combine anecdotes from multiple experiences into a single narrative and tag the connected employers.
In full disclosure, I am not involved in HR or the hiring process at all, so it’s possible this is the worst idea ever. Most companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which parse your application, but deviating from the average format might screw the system up and cause your resume to get dropped. That said, shotgunning resumes to companies online has a terrible success rate compared to getting a referral. Making the ATS happy isn’t the outcome you want. I think of this as tailoring the resume for humans. The goal is not to appease robots to get through the front door, but to win over the person inside.
📢 If you’re involved in hiring I’d love to hear your thoughts - would this actually help qualified candidates stand out, or just more words you don’t have time to read?
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