Risk Taking On Resumes

When it comes to resumes we talk about format. After making sure your format is perfect (concise, easy to read, in the proper order) we talk about “standing out” among the hundreds of other resumes the employer receives. It’s enough to drive a resume-writer/job-seeker insane. You’re torn between being conservative and taking risks that will catch the eye of the reviewer.

Know Yourself

While it may seem you are damned if you do, damned if you don’t, I think the best advice is to know yourself and do what feels right. Try though you may to sculpt the perfect resume, there is no way for you to know exactly who will be reading yours, what mood they will be in at the time, and what appeals to them based on their experiences and personal tastes. “Knowing yourself” comes down to a few important factors:

  • •.Your Field – There are certain things employers look for, both in format and content, depending on their industry. In sales jobs, specific sales data and a sales portfolio are important. To be wildly creative on a resume for a job in finance may not suit you or the employer. At the same time, someone looking for a creative position in design, marketing, or promotions may be well-suited to showing some creativity. It may feel natural to the applicant and be welcomed by the employer.

  • •.Your Gut – When making a decision on whether you should take a risk on your resume when crafting it for a particular position, go with your gut. Don’t take the risk if it doesn’t feel right, doesn’t match your personality, and doesn’t speak to the qualifications listed on the job description.

  • •.Your Personality – Don’t force yourself to seem like something you’re not in your cover letter or your resume. We all think “if I can just get them to call me for an interview I’ll be able to show them I’m the right person for the job.” This is true, passing the resume test is a necessary step for getting hired, but the interview is then the real test. The employer will have expectations, an image of you, based on your resume. Disappointing or confusing them when they meet you will discourage them from hiring you. A realistic picture of your personality, skills, and history are important to demonstrate and will help you feel more comfortable when interviewing.

  • •.

The Clone Wars


Most traditional resume advice will tell you not to disclose anything personal. Good advice? Sure, plenty of people get jobs with “just-the-facts” resumes. Again, it all depends on who is reviewing the resume and what those candidates prove in their interviews. Can a person who includes non-traditional information on their resume (such as personal interests, causes, activities) end up in the “yes” pile while clone resumes end up in the “no?” Yes, again. It is possible that the hiring manager has similar interests or is fed up with reading the same resumes over and over again. Maybe there’s something in your resume that sparks curiosity. If you decide to go against the grain and fight the clones, here are some things you should consider:

  • •.Have you added value? Does your unique detail(s) add value to you as an employee? Can you successfully answer questions about the unique points on your resume and show why they make you a better person, especially in the workplace? What have you learned from your involvement in a particular cause, organization, activity, or hobby? You should be prepared to discuss this.

  • •.Is the information appropriate or too controversial? Maybe you’re a person who likes a little bit of controversy. While you may not be able to take that out of your personality, the job interview is no time for tangling antlers. Use your past experiences to make the best decision here. If your involvement in any activity or organization has caused you to have to explain yourself to people in your personal life, even debate them, use common sense and leave it off the page and out of the interview.

  • •.Don’t fake it! Don’t even consider putting an interest on your resume for the sole purpose of impressing a particular employer or hiring manager. If you aren’t familiar enough with the topic you’ll certainly falter in a discussion and can guarantee losing the job with a heaping portion of humiliation on top of it.

  • •.It’s About a Good Fit

Remember, people aren’t looking to hire clones or robots. They want to hire real people they can get along with, accomplish goals through, and rely on. They also don’t want to be responsible for hiring the most outrageous, controversial, or unstable person in the company. It reflects badly on them, making them look like a poor decision-maker and judge of character. This is why employers may be less likely to take a risk on someone who stands out. At the same time, we know that people who are successful in their careers are those most likely to take risks. Working for a company who encourages risk-taking may be the perfect fit for you. Landing a job with a company that prefers you to come in and sit down without asking questions or suggesting solutions, may not be good for you at all. The job search isn’t just about getting hired, but getting hired in a place that’s right for you.

Lynn Mattoon is a content editor/career writer for Beyond.com and their many niche job search web sites, including SalesHeads.com and FinancialJobBank.com. You can follow her on Twitter at BeyondCareers.



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