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The Narrative Resume is Dead!

Getting my coffee today, I peered down as I always do, at the piles of newspapers stacked ankle-high bordering the service counter at my local delicatessen. All the major publishing players are represented. I scanned the headlines while waiting 15 deep to order my “black no sweet”.
The headlines read –
“Sensational”, “Bleak”, “Scandalous”, “Dry”, and “Rye”
But none Boring.
As the line ticked forward, I noticed most like me, were sharing their attention between the newspaper headlines, the TV perched by the ceiling spouting “Headline News”, and each other, as slight smiles, head nods and body twists accommodated the tight quarters we found ourselves in, while waves entered and left through an aisle flanked by shelves of food products screaming their own “headlines”, in brightly colored bottles, boxes, and bags.
Advancing inch by inch, the Wall Street Journal came to view and notably, astride the bold headlines pillard down the left margin, were “text sounds bytes” summing up WORLD events!
“World events summed up in 1 – 3 sentences!”
Sparing the urge to indict the paper for espousing such contradiction, I realized the paper was simply adapting to a “sensory overloaded”, “stimuli-crazed” audience.
I’ve often maintained, hiring managers rarely allot uninterrupted, dedicated time for reading resumes. As a manager myself and before “formally” entering the world of recruiting, I know functionally reading resumes more often than not, comes after the daily “fires” are quelched, the priority meetings have concluded, the analysis and written reports are completed. 
Reading resumes is relegated to “off hours”, between meetings, in waiting rooms, on airplanes, hotel rooms late at night (insert family room, home office or bedroom if you don’t travel), while watching ball games and once, I remember sitting, my laptop perched on my knees, screen glowing with resumes layered and cascading endlessly, while I received a haircut.
Reminder, this was BEFORE I became a recruiter.
My point… my morning deli experience is a microcosm for our lives today, riddled (dare I say bombarded) with competing stimuli. As a recruiter, I had “better” allot uninterrupted time to read in-depth, candidate resumes. But if I believe my clients, especially active hiring managers themselves are, I’d be fooling myself, and not serving the stakeholders and candidates I serve.
Yes! hiring managers read resumes! But understanding typically when, where, under what conditions, and in what frame of mind is critical in ensuring reader attention and appeal. To take it a step further, recruiters owe it to our clients to understand this and to counsel our candidates accordingly.
As a reasonably intelligent person, I know The Journal is not expecting readers to STOP reading at the front page. The paper’s GOAL, is to get prospects to “see the headline”, then buy and open the paper to learn more about the “summaries” the reader is interested in.
Resumes, need to take a lesson from the newspaper (and magazine) publishers providing “bullets” that intrigue and “beg question”, but no more. Allow the resume to achieve its GOAL, which is to get the candidate into conversation with the prospective employer (to bring depth and deeper understanding to the bulleted achievements (headlines or “summaries”)) they’ve shared through their resume.
The narrative-style resume is in my view, a waste of time. Few have the time, patience or inclination to read them attentively, not because the reader is ignorant, shallow or lazy, but because our culture has simply moved on (tweeeeet!).
Today, it’s about “Rapid Data Assimilation”, followed by intense investigation when and only when readers (Human Resource Departments, Committees, and Hiring Managers) have established that the subject (candidate’s achievements) is worth investigating.
I know many customers on the line with me at the deli will “skim the headlines then forget”, but if interest is piqued, will buy the paper for an in-depth review, or, if like me, google the subjects that the summaries piqued interest in later in the day (sorry WSJ).
Similarly, if a hiring authority “skims” a well thought out, well-written list of bulleted Achievements, then chooses to pass, the candidate is “barking up the wrong tree”. anyway.
If however, the hiring authority’s interest is piqued and they want to learn more, they’ll pick up the phone…
Goal achieved!
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