The misunderstanding about resume stories

When you hear the word stories, it is easy to get the wrong impression. Some people define stories as fairy tales or things that are made up. This is NOT what is meant by resume stories.

What are resume stories?

Professional resume writers started using the term resume stories more than 10 years ago. The art of telling resume stories (or storytelling) has been refined by executive resume writers as they move a job seeker from a job description resume to a marketing document that explains your value to the next employer.

Until recently, I never thought about how that could be misinterpreted. I was interacting with someone (not a client) who said, “I could never puff up a resume and tell lies about people.”

I was stunned. In 30+ years of resume writing, I have never heard someone call resume writing lying. To be honest, it hurt. It made me realize that this person didn’t know me or understand what I do. She didn’t understand my values or ethics.

This comment took me a while to digest. It bothered me so much that I reached out to Dawn Bugni, my friend and fellow Certified Master Resume Writer from North Carolina. Dawn and I both were chosen this year to judge the TORI resume writing awards. Dawn soon set me straight as I knew she would. She reminded me how we help people and the value of our writing.

Why resume stories should never include lies

The resume story should never be interpreted as an opportunity to lie on your resume. When you lie on your resume, you could easily be found out, especially in today’s electronic and digitized society. One of the most famous examples of lying on your resume was the Notre Dame coach who was fired after lying on his resume. Sadly, he probably had the coaching skills needed but the lying ended his career.

Why resume stories matter in your resume

Many people try to stuff keywords into a resume to meet the requirements or copy full phrases from the job description into the resume to align with the job. While an employer is happy to know you match the job requirements, the bigger value for the employer is that you will be able to solve their problems.

The resume story tells how you solved problems in the past for the employer. As an executive resume writer, my job is to work with job seekers to find those hidden gems they don’t see as valuable and polish them to show their value.

This meant I learned the art of asking questions to better understand the person’s career, their particular job, and the value they bring to the organization. Everyone brings value.

Examples of resume stories

  • Business Analysis – Significantly decreased funding program cost for taxpayers by $14.7M in four fiscal years, 53% cost reduction. Led the forensic accounting team in finding $19.9M in savings, de-obligation, and corrections by identifying and rectifying old government accounting errors.
  • Marketing Program Development – Designed national promotional programs for US field force. Developed program strategy, built analytic tools to model financial exposure, collaborated with marketing agency to provide final approval for marketing materials, and gave final approval for marketing expenditures to ensure compliance for the auditors. Annualized sales exceeded $100MM.
  • Chargeback StrategyDesigned operational chargeback and showback models for cloud-related costs for multiple internal clients across multiple services providers with a 90% chargeback success rate.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions – Recognized inconsistency in M&A strategy and authored IT M&A Playbook to guide the execution of future acquisitions. Improved overall integration processes, decreasing costs and leading to smoother transitions.

Do you know what I find to be the biggest problem with people who write their own resumes? They don’t think about the value they brought. It takes someone on the outside to ask the right questions to help them recognize their value.

I dig deep with clients to find their value and then showcase their success. No employer is looking for a repeat of the job description or name, rank, serial number resumes. They want to know how you can help them make their company better using the skills and talents you bring with you to their company.

If you are ready to find your value, explore my options for you here.

The misunderstanding about resume stories

Resume Design and Job Seeking Tips

Here are Design Resumes' latest articles on job search, resume design, resume writing, and Linkedin optimization articles I've written.

FREE Resume and Job Search Tips by email

Get free tips and strategy direct to your inbox. just add your name and email below. I respect your privacy.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

Here are ways I can help you land your dream job.

You may be halfway across the country or the world. When you work with me, we share coffee, laughs, and concerns. This turns the scary job search into creative, consultative writing and learning sessions.