Looking good on paper: a resume update & guide

I dislike resumes — especially my own — so it’d been a while since I’d updated the silly thing. After wrestling with it on and off for few days, I managed to pin it down to a single page that reads how it should read for a Senior Instructional Designer and Learning Strategy Consultant like myself.

Resume for Sam Rogers

Resume for Sam Rogers

  1. It opens with a good testimonial. Other people say I’m awesome too, see? (Thanks Julio!)
  2. It concisely states a broad objective about quality and methodology instead of specific goal. Easier for the client to agree with this way.
  3. It’s organized functionally, with no more than five bullet points per function. If you can’t make your resume look simple, what will your work look like?
  4. It shows the needed chronology, titles, and brands without binding them to roles. This is what the subsequent interview is for.
  5. It focuses on a coherent narrative rather than a list of impressive facts or an array of titles.

This last point is critical. Not only because I dislike titles even more than resumes (they never fit!), but because for a swiss-army knife kinda guy like myself, it’s easy to confuse people. The reality is that I’m always all over the place doing what needs to be done, which is always more than anyone has asked me to do, and usually more than anyone was even aware of previously. But a resume is not the vehicle to state this directly, and can easy come across as unbelievable/untrustworthy or downright scattered. It is my sincere hope that nothing about this resume says either untrustworthy or scattered, as I am supremely trustworthy and rarely scattered.

The entire point of a resume is to get an interview. Once the conversation with the prospective employer/client is booked, the resume has done its job. The reason I’ve been able to get away without a resume most of the time is that I’ve been very lucky, almost all my work comes from personal relationships and the references it generates. Over the years I’ve learned that the primary mission of consultants is to make the people that hire them look good. Often this means taking the blame for things that weren’t really your fault, and giving the credit for success to everyone else. The funny thing is that when this happens, the client will invariably want you back, take you with them when they move on to another company/project, or recommend you to others. I find that the little secret “I saved your ass” works best when it is never even acknowledged. Maybe people think they got away with something or that I didn’t notice. I did, I just had the good taste to shut up about it.

Through the marvels of the internet (i.e. LinkedIn), now people are starting to find me by my references and recommendations alone, which is way cool for me! As a result, I’m in conversation about being at the helm of a corporate university for a fantastic company…for which I do actually have to look good on paper too. I believe this resume finally does the trick. I hope this sample and breakdown help you to feel good about redrafting your very own resume.

Hmm, maybe I don’t hate resumes so much anymore…