Resumes are not a true reflection of who you are and what you can do.

Resumes are a bit like a personal advertisement for our services. In some of my talks and workshops I ask participants, “What are the attributes of a peak performer?” And the list I get to write up on the white-board is pretty much the same every time – passionate, creative, brave, self-confident, fearless, visionary, empathetic, determined, tenacious, original, and so on.

I then remind participants of the one time they get to create the own “personal brand advertisement”, their resume. And I ask, “Do you use language like this in your resume?” Because if these are the attributes of a peak performer, your resume should shout out “I am a brave, passionate, and tenacious human being” (or whatever your peak performer attributes are).

The resume game

Most of us don’t use language like this in our resume. Instead we prefer dates, years, places of study and work, skills, job description details, and so on. And given the new AI reality of how resumes are processed today, I guess this is what you’d call “playing the game”. The tech is looking for a fit: Place of birth, blue-chip company experience, what skills, what qualifications, and previous roles.

Some resumes do have a “Hobbies & Interests” section, as a sort of tokenistic this is who I really am. “Yep, I love watching rugby and I go to the ballet” would be the woke way to go.

And then before we send out our resume we pass it on to a wise-old-uncle or family-friend-and-CV-expert who know about these sort of things, for a final check, and he says, “What, you took a two year gap year?! That’s not good. Two years of doing fuck all is not good a good look.” And then you remember that you worked in that pub in Wales, and you helped the owner design a flyer for a Mother’s Day promotion. Aha! Marketing Assistant for six months in Pub In Wales, and in this way the gap is nicely plugged.

What DID you do in that second gap year?

When in fact what you did in your second year was travel Turkey with nomads. And so if you’re looking to hire someone who is passionate, creative, brave, self-confident, fearless, visionary, empathetic, determined, tenacious, and original, I’m your woman (or man).

Because I learnt to be that way traveling around Turkey with nomads. Not at the University of Sydney, or TAFE, or High School. They don’t teach these things. There is no formal certified and/or accredited degree and/or diploma in passion, bravery, or self-confidence. You get to learn that shit in The School Of Life, the most valuable school there is.

And that is the horrible truth about resumes.

They are not a true reflection of who you really are, and what you can really offer (beyond doing the job). Companies and organisations who are looking to hire peak performers will need to think and recruit outside the resume box. And candidates who are looking for that amazing role (that taps into everything you are and draws on you they have to offer) will need to show up for who they really are: every little bit of themselves.

You are not your resume. You are your life experience.
Richard Sauerman
Richard Sauerman
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