Your Resume: Pack it Right!

I am so excited to partner with CalAgJobs as a resume writer and career coach. For this inaugural blog post, here’s some comprehensive advice in the form of a story to illustrate your strategy for resume composition. 

Once there was a very creative recruiter who thought of a novel way to screen job applicants. As he was soon headed on a tropical vacation, instead of asking candidates to submit a resume, he asked them to submit a packed, carry-on suitcase with everything he would need for the trip. He provided the location of his vacation so each applicant could thoroughly research what was necessary. The best-packed suitcases would demonstrate the applicant’s understanding of his needs and would score an interview.

On the job posting’s closing date, the recruiter went to his office and piled high were at least 300 suitcases. One by one sifted through the suitcases. Some of the bags were in such bad shape and he didn’t even bother to open them. Others had luggage tags with misspellings or typographical errors, implying carelessness on the part of the applicant; those were also cast aside. Some of the bags were too big, definitely not carry-ons; clearly these candidates could not follow directions.

Some suitcases looked good on the outside, but once opened, the contents were a mess, or there were odd items inside, items he certainly wouldn’t need.  These applicants had not researched what was necessary for the recruiter’s destination.  Unfortunately, some applicants packed some very useful items on the bottom of the bag, but because the recruiter was in such a hurry, these suitcases were eliminated; he didn’t have time to dig through irrelevant items to find them.

Of the 300 suitcases submitted, there were five in his “yes” pile, and here’s what these bags had in common; they were:

  • The correct size for a carry on; these applicants followed directions for what to submit.
  • Clean and neat. It was obvious the packer took great care to provide the best presentation.
  • Packed with the most important items placed on top, immediately creating a strong impression of the applicant.
  • Packed with only relevant items. These applicant researched what the recruiter would need on his vacation and selected only items that would be useful to him.
  • Easy to understand. In a few of the “yes” bags were odd items, in one case a pair of hiking boots, a bit confusing for a beach vacation, but there was a note attached reading, “there are beautiful mountains near your destination, you won’t want to miss exploring them; these will make your hike comfortable, enjoyable and more efficient, as you will be able to climb the mountains swiftly and pain-free.” The message made sense and provided a clear benefit for the recruiter.

Moral of the story… when “packing” your resume, follow instructions for how to submit it, make it neat and easy to read, put the most important items on top, include only relevant information and if it isn’t clear why it’s relevant, explain.

In later blog posts, I’ll provide additional strategies for effective resumes and other career search advice, but for now, keep this story in mind. Best wishes job seekers and enjoy all your journeys, whether they be to tropical destinations or to the job that’s right for you.

Jodie Rettinhouse