Simplify Your Story, Don’t Dummy It Down

There are three times when there is too much talking going on in your resume or LinkedIn profile:

–         You feel the need to tell the reader absolutely everything you’ve ever done

–         You don’t know what’s important to the reader

–         You have no idea how to tell your own story

One of these is enough to spoil the stew, but add in that special spice of tenure and it can become a train wreck stew.

This is a nice way of saying experience. I’m in that category. I’m over 50 with a lot of experience. I’m what some might consider old – they would be wrong, but hey, I’m cool with it. Although there are potential employers that may not be now or in 10+ years from now.

The problem – or fault – is a feeling of being over-qualified or discriminated by age.

“The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves…”  Cassius is basically telling Brutus, hey man, we’re in control here – take control of your destiny.

I’m not saying age discrimination does not happen. What I am saying is let’s take a more positive, optimistic, we’ve got some measure of control here approach.

Instead of assuming someone is discounting you, what if you were discounting yourself? Maybe you are not being discriminated against because of your age. Maybe you are being passed over because you aren’t telling them what they need to hear?

There’s a thought.

It seems to be almost a knee-jerk reaction to assume you’re overlooked due to a long career history. Then to think the answer is to “dummy down” your resume or profile.

“Oh, well if I sound like less than I am, surely someone will want to hire me.”

Stop it. Never, ever, ever devalue yourself. Not for a job, not for a person, not for anything. Period.

Okay, off my soapbox.

Instead, let’s simplify your story, and tell it the right way, where you’re speaking their language and getting their attention.

Let’s work through this in three steps, because we want simplifying to be simple!

1. Them

Who is them? The reader: who your resume and LinkedIn is all about. Them. The reader, not you. They don’t care what you want, they care about how are you going to make their life easier. If you are dying to tell them 15 things but they only care about 2 of them, how much time do you think they are going to spend listening to you?

Right.

2. Target

Second, what to say. For this, you have to know your target. What job or position are you targeting? Once you have zeroed in on this, let’s simplify it and get a framework with three questions:

  1. What is the bottom-line purpose of the job?
  2. What activities (main) do I need to do to achieve #1?
  3. How do I prove I’ve achieved #1, how is my performance measured?

The answers to these questions are the outline for your resume and LinkedIn. Focus 80% of your content on what supports these questions. The other 20% is your differential that you bring to the table. Those things that make you more awesome than any other candidate.

3. Story

Your story. This is important because now you get to paint the picture. I tell everyone who will listen: the point of your resume is to tell your story the way you want the reader to understand it, not how it looks on paper. (The purpose is to start a conversation – that’s another article…)

Maybe you want to take a step back. Maybe you have run big teams or your own business and now want to go back to corporate. These can trigger the ‘dummy down’ response.

Don’t do it….

Tell the story the way you would to a real person. If you were a business owner, you know what a pain some aspects were. Taxes, filings, blah, blah, blah. So if you were in an interview, wouldn’t you stress that you want to get back to doing that part of the job that you love?

Okay, say that.

This brings up a good side point. We get in stuck in our head somehow that there is a specific decorum to resumes. Stuffy (nope). Distanced (no). Can’t be a real person (wrong). Can’t say certain things (yes you can).

I’ve used “herculean effort” and “Sherpa” in resumes. So yes, you get to have some fun.

We don’t need to focus on everything you did. Not everything adds value to what you are targeting. We need to maximize that finite amount of valuable space available to you.

Think of CIA: keep what is Critical and Important, ditch what the Assumed (not important). Focus what you did – based on the answers to those three questions. Anything outside that will fall into assumed, not important, or differentials.

Owning a business gave you ‘where the buck stops’ perspective allowing you to better support your leadership team. That’s a differential.

Lastly, let me just say one thing: you’re not the only person who has wanted or done this. It does not look like a demotion, step down, or a negative. Many people step back, go back, change it up. It’s all good. How many managers out there remember before they were managers and sometimes wistfully think, oh, for it to be like that again…

Regardless of the length of your tenure, there are plenty of opportunities out there for you. Simplify your story around your audience. Before you know it, you’ll start getting some phone calls!

 

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As an award winning, published, triple certified Professional Resume Writer & Career Coach I do what I love – help amazing professionals get career happy.

Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more.

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