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Resumes With a Little Flair :: Filtering Out the Hype


By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Has your resume run amok? Has attention-deficit diluted your writing prowess as you seek for the latest, hippest ways to market You, Inc.?

If you have watched television programs or read articles from some of the major media lately, you’d think that “resumes gone wild” is the way to go. Here are three examples:

1. Six-second “Vine resumes” have crept through the latticework of the career landscape.

2. An Amazon resume developed by a web product manager creatively detailed his career.

3. Job-seeker billboards straddle the grounds of major highways.

Attempts to disrupt the resume market have indeed multiplied.

While brilliant, nuanced and attention-grabbing resumes are vital to set you apart from the competition, defining how to color outside the lines while maintaining a message that is crisp, clear and purposeful to your audience is equally vital.

Unfortunately, the media’s need for sound bites and traffic-generation often supersedes providing pragmatic value to the job-seeking audience. While boots-on-the-ground resume strategists who have intimate experience working alongside job seekers sit quietly holding their tongues, the airtime often goes to reports touting sexy, outlandish resume methods under the guise of ingenuity.

Filter Out the Hype

If this confusing message has sent your blood pressure soaring and compelled you to seek the craftiest way to market yourself, calm down – creative resumes that tell a ‘value story’ still net the best results. For the rest of the article, please visit my latest post over at Glassdoor: How to Tone Down Your Resume for Better Results.

Does Your Resume Express Your Intensity?

By Robert P. Poindexter

When Pope Julius II decided the Sistine Chapel needed something a bit more inspirational for the ceiling than the gold stars that adorned the mostly blue ‘canvas,’ he sought out the person he felt would most passionately immerse himself in the challenge. Anyone over the age of six knows whom he chose.

It was Michelangelo’s passion for creating art that guided his eyes and his hands. Five hundred years later (give or take an hour), his passion still inspires those who view his work.

I love the word, ‘passion,’ The imagery the use of this word conjures up in one’s imagination has few equals.

It’s hard to imagine someone involved in a passionate act without seeing a superhuman quality that seems to embody every fiber of their being.

Webster’s dictionary defines ‘Passion’ as a ‘great liking’ or ‘intense emotion.’

Anyone who has witnessed passion for themselves would likely agree that this definition fails to adequately express the depth and the strength of true passion.

I submit that without passion very few, if any, of the accomplishments that we hold in esteem and reverence would have ever been seen to fruition.

Passion has been responsible for building great societies, bringing into being the tools and luxuries we use every day that enhance our lives, and it is directly responsible for the existence of each and every creature on this planet today.

It is both hard to describe and easy to understand. It can be reckless and focused. It can be felt in the still of a sunrise and on the battlefield (actual or metaphorical).

Passion creates a thirst that demands to be quenched, and is hard to completely satiate.

Does your resume properly express your passion? Does it evoke passion in the reader?

If your answer to these questions is a resounding, ‘No,’ I urge you to reach out to a career professional who will give indisputable evidence of your career ‘passion.’

And as far as the Sistine Chapel is concerned, I like to think the Pope knew something about evoking passion by having Michelangelo paint the ceiling instead of the floor.

Communicating More in Your Resume: Why ‘Nuance’ Matters

Are you communicating your career nuances like an arousing wine advertisement that  sells distinctions in flavor that only THIS $40 bottle of Pinot Noir can deliver? Communicating nuance is my favorite ‘secret weapon’ for devising a differentiating resume story. Unfortunately, most resumes severely lack in nuance, and therefore, fall flat on the hiring decision maker’s or recruiter’s palate.

According to, the definition for ‘nuance’ is: “a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, response, etc.”

What Nuance Is Not:

  • Nuance is not describing one’s soft skills; e.g., s/he’s an innovator, a dynamo, a contributor with an entrepreneurial mindset or a rousing team builder.
  • It is not simply listing achievements; e.g. the #1 ranking salesperson among 100s in the U.S.; the operations manager who sliced $50K from costs; or the healthcare professional who streamlined processes from 1 week to 1 day. These are wonderful and ‘shout it from the mountain top’ type accomplishments. Communicate them in your resume. However, you must communicate more!

What Nuance Is:

  • Nuance is what distinguishes HOW you do what you do so well, and HOW have you demonstrated this distinctive behavior in a way that relates to your target audience’s current and future needs.
  • Nuance is the je ne sais quois. It is your unique value proposition. It is your differentiating story as it tightly wraps around your focus audience’s needs.
  • Nuance extends beyond saying, “I met with this challenge, this is the action I took, and here is the result.” It weaves in the unique leadership, problem solving, influence, process repair and/or analytical talent (and so forth) you leveraged to move you from challenge to hurdle-leaping result.

Nuance says, I am better than the next guy (or gal), you need me to fix your issues, I get what your issues are, and I’m the only person with these unique layers of talent who can do the job. Nuance is fearless, and steps outside the bounds of everyone else’s resume jargon. It applies headlines, quotes and muscular language that say, “I stand apart.”

For example, a nuanced Quote embedded in your resume may say:

Melding of Business and Artistic Talent: “Applying an alchemic approach to business, I generate a dynamic among team members that forges partnerships and interactions to fuel a bigger, better (more profitable) result.”

A nuanced Summary may begin:

“I Get Information Technology”. Unique executive vision derived from International Technology Industry experience on industrial side as Sales and Marketing Manager, Product Manager, and P&L Leader—career underpinnings embedded in IT Finance. Repeatedly tapped to take on critical challenges during 20+ year advancement through ABC Company.

Nuanced Achievements Stories may look something like this:

  • In just 12 months, executed the integration of two business units into a $1.5 billion single platform delivering $50 million net income. Surmounted numerous leadership challenges, including reinvigorating the morale of employees and establishing rhythm of reviews with key customers.
  • Instrumental in merger completion in what is regarded as one of the most successful integrations in ABC history. Overcame distinct business culture differences between the two separate $2 billion platforms, one of which had been acquired just three  years earlier and had become disenfranchised.

Now, get going – think nuance and shades of gray when fleshing out your very unique layers of value! Write a resume that distinguishes YOU!

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