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On Your Resume, Show, Don’t Tell

Working on that resume? HR pro Liz Ryan says forget about “transferable skills.”

“There is one big problem with the Transferable Skills dogma. People are not actually ambulatory sets of disembodied, abstract skills. Describing ourselves as packages of skills is about the worst way imaginable to get a hiring manager excited about us….We might say:Neil Armstrong is a savvy aeronautical professional with flying skills, landing skills, navigational skills, leadership skills and moon-rock-collecting skills. How absurd! Neil Armstrong is the guy who first walked on the surface of the moon.”

For those of us who aren’t Neil Armstrong, there’s still better ways of saying you have “teamwork skills” than just saying it. And we won’t get into the irony of feeling like you have to tell people that you have good communication skills.

Okay, okay, we will. It’s ironic, okay? And not in the Alanis sense. If you have good communication skills, communicate them.

Instead, provide stories. “We don’t want to tell a hiring manager that we possess potential power, and that it’s sitting on the shelf…we want to let him know about times when we’ve pulled those tools down from the shelf and used them to great advantage.”

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