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The Devastating & Hidden Dangers of your ’Long Form’ Resume

Updated: Jun 26

Certainly there are many opinions and quite a bit of advice out there, about what constitutes the ‘right qualities’ of an effective resume.

Your decision over your personal résumé and how it represents you is fraught with complexities far beyond your personal tastes, which tend to influence the final choices. 

The effective résumé is quite often not the version that you like most, which is a purely personal response to ‘seeing’ the story that you lived. That in itself becomes the trap of our own bias.


A résumé has one mission / one purpose in life: to deliver the interview.


It's not about how we like the story; or about how it showcases every bit of our experience; or even about how our friends, family and colleagues respond to the new version. 

It's about editing your story and showcasing a selection of your background in such a way that elevates the brand perception of your career –and of all those potential deliverables that they imagine are behind the success that they see.

Read that last part carefully: it's about what they imagine behind the story that they see, not the literal telling of every part of our background, contribution and every single story element.

Resumes which encompass all of those details are following the ‘everything in the kitchen sink’ strategy:

They might like me for this / they might like me for that / oh, put this in there too, it's sparkly and shiny!

At the end of this kind of journey is where they actually lose sight of why we are valuable… (reading across our career & down a lengthy résumé). Because we leave it completely up to the reader to form the conclusion. The conclusion / all of our value is being left to chance.


And effective résumé raises your brand value, elevates your individual contributions and sets the stage for an extraordinary interview discussion. 


The right résumé will ‘serve up’ the questions on a silver platter to the interviewer, which allows the you to step onto the presentation stage figuratively and showcase the richness of your background with passion and specificity. 

By the way that verbal detail with passion & specificity is how you ‘prove’ your value in the conversation. Hearing firsthand the rich detail, rather than reading some insignificant text, detail brings the story to life in a very different way within the mind.

But, if you already spoiled the surprise / the ending, very similarly to how many movie marketers today ruin the films they are promoting by quite literally showcasing the entire movie storyline, then your result may be the similar and many will not be interested in your ‘movie’. Or in meeting with you after reading your résumé in detail, enough detail to rule you out without conversation.

The basic realities of hiring are fairly clear: yes you must be capable and qualified, but that's not actually the deciding parts of the process. The real deciding parts, assuming you're capable and qualified, are chemistry #1 (above all in the universe), and confidence in you and what you might bring to this role as #2 in the evaluation.

Understanding how to you sell ‘confidence’ is very delicate. The confident individual rarely explains themselves to prove anything, really. The confident individual rarely feels any need to put down deep detail. It’s all true anyway… and they are ready to tell your passionate story at a moments notice. Being ready to tell your story on the fly, and doing so with passionate detail is how you prove what you bring to the table.


“but they asked for a more detailed résumé…”

I might ask you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, but I hope you wouldn’t entertain that request either.


Ask away as they may, but you are in charge of controlling your brand and brand value.

Confidence is about knowing when it's appropriate to say no, and when necessary, knowing when to walk away from an organization, or individual, that just doesn't quite get it.

As I teach in all my lectures, I'm a big believer in directly approaching the decision-maker. 

Most of the complexities that tend to trap us happen on a screening level, a level that I think must be avoided at all costs. 

It's not because I'm not the right individual for this role that I avoid being screened. It's because the wrong people are doing the screening. 

Whether that's a recruiter that may be external as a headhunter, or an internal HR individual in a recruiting role, those the screening function do not possess the full scope of knowledge to do a proper evaluation. 

I often talk about it being like ‘taking a lunch order’ for the office with a fill in the blank form. “Oh, it's time to hire!” And we run around the office asking for advice, “What do you think we need to hire?” “Oh, add a little salt / add a little sugar / a little spice / a little of this / a little of that / must have this / won’t be seen without that.” 

Incredibly, that's how those requirements lists are put together in a large percentage of job postings.

By the time that job posting goes to the recruiter or down to HR those item lists are carved in stone. 

Missing something on the list? Certainly expect to get grilled about that. 

The problem comes from the fact that the recruiter or HR individual only has a cursory knowledge of what the recruiting for, in other words… they really do not understand this particular job beyond what's on the paper. 

Add to that that most people's resumes don't properly tell their story, and you can begin to see that this is a systemic problem that will not easily be solved without going directly to the decision-maker –who possesses all of the knowledge to make the evaluation.


I don’t (ever) recommend making changes at the request of recruiters (or HR). 

May seem harmless, but once you give out a longer, less focussed story, you no longer have control over your story. Your single page version should be an effective 'sales sheet', that anyone can utilize to sell you to another.


Longer versions are not designed to ‘sell you’ quickly in the mind of the reader. The recruiter may send a longer one to the manager... because the recruiter is uncomfortable or inexperienced (thinks they have to ’sell to hard’ to convince the manager with the shorter version). But the opposite is actually true.

Showcase your entire career story, on a single sheet of paper.

Let your brands carry the day, as they determine almost every ounce of your value, rather than extensive individual details… which themselves work to undermine confidence in you.

Now, let's get to work!


John Crant

Author, Career Coach & Speaker on Job Search and Career Management

Featured Speaker for

The New York Public Library's JOB SEARCH CENTRAL


In the Media: As Seen As Featured in 

amNY, Time Out New York, The Wall Street Journal (and its, CRAIN'S New York BusinessForbes, CNNBBC, FOX News (on Social Media Marketing), AriseTV, New York PostThe Huffington PostEssence magazine, CareerBuilder and The Ladders

On the Radio: As Guest: WHCR 90.3 FM "The Voice of Harlem"


As an industry manager, executive recruiter, recruiting & sales trainer, event speaker, and as VP of a nationwide system of recruitment offices, I have seen most every aspect of the hiring process and this varied insight is what provides the clarity you will find in this book.


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