Human-Centered Resumes (are the way of the future!)

Since I attended StartingBloc mid-February, I’ve been full of excitement, ideas, and energy. One major benefit of attending SB is that I got some perspective on a personal blind spot. I was among a group of 100+ do-ers n’ entrepreneurs.

Though I think of myself as more of a be-er than a do-er, the blind spot that I got some insight into was my own ideas —> action gap. Sometimes I have “good” ideas but they seem “minor,” so instead of taking them seriously and pursuing them, I just dream up more ideas. Having some insight into this blind spot has piqued my curiosity about what would happened if I fully explored even one of these “good” ideas.

Follow thru, baby.

To make this all more concrete…

I’ve had numerous conversations with folks in the past several months about the process of applying for jobs, constructing resumes, writing cover letters and interviewing. I’m (f)unemployed and so are a number of folks I know so these kinds of conversations surface frequently.

In all my conversations about the job-hunting process, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I love it. I wish I could be a professional job applicant. Chronological resumes make my heart sing!”

I myself may have used a couple expletives in expressing my views on the topic. My frustration has fueled what I’m now calling The Human-Centered Resume project.

It’s part of my practice of harnessing the power of “negative” energy and channeling it into building something better which, along the way, converts the “negative” quality into a “positive” one. It also shines the light on my blind-spot.

Bi-product: Happier Mary. Happier world.

So this:
“I f*&%ing hate searching for jobs. It’s so $#%&ing frustrating to make a resume that reflects who I am.” (Full disclosure: I was stuck in this thought process for about two months.)

Became this:
What would a swoon-worthy resume and job-hunting process look like? Why am I so irked by the current process? Considering those irksome properties, how can I build something better that eliminates them?

Then I actually started to build it… The Human-Centered Resume was born.

Let’s start by examining the logic of the current resume model:

The Skills-Based Chronological Resume.

It treats WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE as the 3 KINGS.

The message is:
WHAT I’ve done in the past, WHEN I did it , and WHERE I did it are the best indicators of my ability to succeed in the position I’m applying for.

On the resume itself, this looks like:
A description of duties in previous positions and/or professional titles (WHAT)
Displayed in reverse chronological order, showing “progression” in career (WHEN)
Headed up by the name of the organization & the physical location (WHERE)

Here comes the irksome part.

WHO I am as person, WHY I chose to do the the things on my resume, and HOW I went about doing them is:

a) considered irrelevant and ignored
b) matters (at least a little) and is assumed to be reasonably well derived from looking at the 3 KINGS
c) we’ll figure it out if we decide to interview or hire you whether we want to or not (e.g. Damn, that guy’s got a a major anger problem. His work is brilliant but it sucks working with him. Who knew?!)

Taken alone I was irked that the WHO, WHY and HOW are exiled from the resume kingdom by the 3 KINGS. So my frustration was compounded when I realized that the resume-exchange and hiring process are but a microcosm of (and entry point into) the whole dehumanizing* system of workplace organizations.

Build a Better System AKA (to SB LA ’13-ers) “Show ’em the clean glass of water!”

In the Human-Centered Resume, WHO, WHY and HOW are the 3 KINGS.

The message is:
WHO I am as a person, WHY I chose my past experiences, and HOW I went about doing them drives WHAT I’ve done, WHERE I did it and WHEN I did it. Therefore WHO, WHY and HOW are the best indicators of my ability to succeed in the job I’m applying for.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison.


On the resume itself this look like:
STAY TUNED! The next post will reveal the secrets of Human-Centered Resumes. They really are the way of the future, folks.

*My intention in using the word “dehumanizing” isn’t to trigger ya. I mean it as literally as possible. We are literally reduced, in our resumes, to skill sets, past experiences, dates, titles, etc.  I think that even in the least human-friendly organizations there are elements of humanism, but on the whole organizations (especially large ones) take on a bureaucratic tone and are essentially dehumanizing. Read some Max Weber.