How Do I Make My Resume Tell a Cohesive Story?

Dear Ranjani,

I’ve done a wide range of work and they all don’t really feel like they add up. How do I make my resume tell my story cohesively?



Hello X,

Many people start out as engineers, branch out into management or business analysis, realize they’re good at graphic design doing that for a bit, and then take a maternity break and so on. In fact, I studied B Com, then got a masters in film studies, then did an MBA in marketing and worked in an NGO, an education company, a tech company, before I finally settled into writing as a career.

This is common, and you’re not alone!

A resume’s job is not to tell a cohesive story. An effective resume must simply convince the recruiter that you’re exactly the person they’re looking for. So if you focus on that, your story will write itself.

Let’s say you have 7 years of experience as a business analyst and 3 years of experience as a marketer. You’re applying for a role as a content marketing lead at a tech company. Your resume’s story would be about how in 3 years you’ve understood marketing, in 7 years you’ve got a grasp on technology, and how together, these two make you a strong candidate for the role.

Here are a couple of things to consider:

Ideally, find a job that combines your strengths.

If you’ve got 10 years of experience as a schoolteacher, and are interested in a data science career (after gaining the skills), you could apply for data science roles in the education field. Your teaching experience, even if you were a primary school teacher, would be extremely valuable for an ed tech startup.

Highlight relevant skills and experience, not just the ‘job’ you did.

You’ve certainly learned from every job.

  • For instance, if you’ve got seemingly unrelated degrees in several fields, you’ll do well in generalist roles that need you to think outside the proverbial box.

  • If you’ve got experience living in another country and can speak the language, you’d be an asset to a company that has a team/client in that country.

  • If you’ve got experience working in a small team at a startup, your achievements and ownership of projects will help you show your leadership skills.

Everything adds up. So before making your CV, make a list of what you learned from these experiences and what skills you attained. Compare your list with the job description and make a resume that’s tailored to the job.

No matter what your background is, focus on demonstrating your suitability for the role. Good luck! Let me know how it goes.

P.S: HR might try to lowball your salary saying you only have x years of “relevant” experience. Call their bullshit. Show them how everything is relevant and command your price.