There are a lot of people who believe their experience is just too unique to fit into a “traditional resume” or that resume writing best practices don’t apply. Whether the task just seems overwhelming or the way forward is not clear, believing you are an exception to the rule can be an easy way out. Here’s the deal. In all of my years providing professional resume writing and career development services, I have never encountered someone whose professional experience was so unique that it could not be more effectively communicated by employing resume writing best practices.
A few things I hear...
“I don’t have any accomplishments.” The good news is that I have yet to come across someone who really has no accomplishments. Yes, uncovering accomplishments can be more of a challenge in certain roles, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Challenging yourself to speak to accomplishments is not only a key way to make your resume shine, it can really change the way you see your experience.
“My job history is too complicated to be listed chronologically.” Many of us have non-linear professional timelines that include gaps, inaccurate titles, etc. That is just a (common) reality. Fortunately, the resume does not have to be a comprehensive document. There are plenty of ways to streamline your information and present an honest, but easier to grasp, professional timeline. Keep in mind, presenting a clear timeline is a courtesy to readers and helps ensure that potential employers are focusing on what really matters – your qualifications and accomplishments.
“My NDA means I can’t speak to accomplishments.” I understand this thinking, but it’s wrong. Your NDA likely means you can’t disclose specifics. You can still provide clear, quantifiable achievements; you just may need to communicate them in more general terms. For example, instead of saying, “grew financial services revenue from $2.5M to $4.5M in just 12 months,” you might need to say “grew key department revenue 56% in just 12 months.”
Resume writing best practices – like speaking to achievements or providing a clear professional timeline – are broadly applicable. Before you discount them or decide that you are an exception to the rule, examine your motivations. Are you really not able to leverage these best practices or are you shying away from what might be challenging work?