If Not A Resume Then What?

I’ve been ranting for a while that resumes no longer serve either the candidate or the hiring manager. My current narrative is that,

“A resume is about as useful as a nutrition label on a can of beans.”

Really, for something that the average hiring manager spends eight seconds reading, and that’s if it makes it to the manager’s desk, are they worth the effort? The consensus tells me no. You all then turn to me and ask, “So if not a resume, then what?” The short answer? I don’t know yet. But I’m on a bit of a mission to figure it out. While I don’t have any solutions, I bring you some inspiration. I want to introduce you to two very different people who decided to color outside the lines to create non-resumes.

Let me introduce Siria Tena. She posted a personal pitch deck on LinkedIn. I saw her post as I scrolled through my feed. Intrigued, I reached out. Why I asked, did she decide to create something that bucked the rules? An individual who understands how story, media, and event production all intertwine, Siria talked about how she HAD spent hours creating a resume. Some forty hours, creating, tweaking, and then customizing for each job she applied. After over one hundred submissions, she decided enough was enough. “I realized,” she said, “that I’ve received every other job because I did something different. So why not now?”

Why not, indeed?

Later in the week, my brilliant friend and ladybadass Robin Wolaner tagged me in a friend’s post. Author, screenwriter, and musician Lindy Michaels had posted her own hilarious and creative rant in the form of script coverage. 


Genre: Comedy/Tragedy

Period: Contemporary

Locale: Hollywood And Surrounding Area

LOG LINE: A mature, multi-talented woman seems unable to be hired in this youth-oriented society and is forced to go to unbelievable lengths to find a job to support herself and her two elderly cats.

Lindy was also kind enough to hop on the phone and share her experience in finding a role. Apparently, the initial response manifested requests for the script. Ultimately everyone recognized the joke, and the conversations in rooms Lindy was not in started to happen, and offers of work arrived at her door. She’s still waiting to hear this time. If you have a book you’re trying to publish, I understand she’s the go-to gal. 

What I love about both of Siria and Lindy’s approaches is the understanding of their customer. Both documents highlight their skill, creativity, and tenacity while the form spoke to the kind of person they wanted to reach. Script coverage, for example, would be lost on me. 

What do you do if you’re looking at your resume and bemoaning the fact that it does a poor job telling your extraordinary story?

Let’s take a page out of Siria and Lindy’s playbook and create marketing materials that promote the Future You.

  1. Step into your “customers” shoes. Imagine you’re a busy hiring manager who’s overwhelmed with work and inundated with resume after resume. What would convince you to take a look? What kind of problems do you think they’re trying to solve? The answers to those questions are the messages you need to lead on with your marketing. 
  2. Remember it’s the Future You they’re hiring. Your value isn’t just what you’ve done; it’s just as much about what you’re going to do.
  3. Be both recognizable and original. Any marketing message is for your audience to recognize it immediately and should also be original. Lindy’s “customers” recognized the script.
  4. A picture tells 1,000 words. Here are some examples of graphics we’ve created for people who work with me. You have no idea who they are or what they’ve done, and yet don’t they tell an interesting story of their potential? Your experience + your potential is what your new hiring manager needs to understand. Shouldn’t you make it easy for them?
  5. One size does not fit all. You’re an original, and so is the person who’s going to hire you. You want to be treated like an original. And guess what, so does your future boss. 
  6. Experiment – put it out there – see how people respond – try again – put it out there again – keep going. 
    1. The first version does not need to be perfect. Start sending your new format to people before you’re ready. If people can’t see your new materials, they can’t respond to it.
    2. Don’t ask for feedback (FYI – I’m SO done with that word); ask people if they understood your value. Feedback leads to criticism; you need to know if your story landed.
    3. Keep trying. I’m sorry to say this, but Kevin Costner and his Field of Dreams was not right in saying, “If you build it, they will come.” What IS true is if you don’t build it, they absolutely won’t come. 
    4. Version 2 of a thing is often way better than version 1. Think about the iPhone. 
    5. Do you remember the last hard thing you had to do? Did you give up? No, I didn’t think so.

I get it; coloring outside the lines takes courage. I think you already have what it takes. So here’s my offer. Share and tag me on LinkedIn or Twitter with your new creation, and I’ll share it. Who knows, someone who knows me might be looking for someone just like you.


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