When Companies Hire for Culture, Does Your Resume Have an Attitude?

If you apply for a competitive job, it’s likely that the hiring manager may look over 100+ resumes. At this point, you have 3 main tools to make yours stand out:

  1. Killer Skills
  2. Snappy Writing
  3. Good Design

Of course, for many jobs today, no resume is required. I recently hired for 2 positions at PlaceFull. Ironically, one was for a copywriter position and the other was for a graphic designer. In both instances, I neither asked for resumes and they were hardly ever a factor in deciding who I called in for an interview. Instead, I asked for work submissions and looked at online portfolios. In the case of the copywriter position, the initial email from the candidate served as a writing sample and usually made the biggest impact.

These two examples notwithstanding, the majority of today’s jobs still require a resume. If you’re lucky, you’re resume will get 5-10 seconds of attention.

Most folks make the mistake of putting no soul into their resume. They list a set of lifeless skills and jobs without putting any life behind the words. Did you enjoy your previous jobs? I sure hope so. Did you learn anything new? You better have. These are the things that give your application personality.

Does Your Resume Have a Good Attitude?

More and more companies, big and small, now hire on culture and attitude more than anything else. In an era of new skills where on-the-job training becomes the norm, a culture-employee fit becomes more important than raw skills.

Does your resume broadcast your personal culture?

No one wants to work with someone who’s boring, or messy, or an a-hole. Your resume can say all of these things between the lines – if you’re not careful.

A good resume uses words, attitude, design and hierarchy to communicate confidence, competency, organization, attention to detail, and most important, your spirit.

Don’t Write Your Resume, Craft It

If you created your resume like your a website, how would your potential employer interpret your UX? How can  you improve the conversion rate?

Forget the professional resume writing services unless you’re applying to a large, faceless organization. That said, for any job paying more than $50-60,000, it’s worth it to have a professional or two help you out. For me, these are:

  1. A Copywriter
  2. A Graphic Designer

A good copywriter can be found on Craigslist for $20-80/hr, and one or two hours should be enough. Graphic design services range from $25-100/hr, and you should allow 2-3 hours for a basic resume.

The result is worth it. When I first applied for a job at SEOmoz, I knew my resume would need to show plenty of TAGFEE to stand out. This meant incorporating “fun” and “authenticity” among other things. I had spent 10 years as a struggling screenwriter, so I was comfortable with the copywriting. My wife Dawn graciously handled the graphic design.

I got the job, and I truly believe adding these intangible elements made my application stand out.

Here’s the original resume in full that got me the interview, and the job.


Note: Due credit goes to Jen Lopez, who got this whole crazy resume sharing started today.


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2 thoughts on “When Companies Hire for Culture, Does Your Resume Have an Attitude?

  1. I had the privilege of visiting the Mozplex several months ago and got a tour from Aaron. I asked him a lot about culture and the hiring process and he let me know that everyone there was weird–either a little or a lot:)

    But he also went into other details and I was really impressed by the deliberate push to hire people who exactly fit the culture the executive team wants to cultivate.

    Definitely a wiser long-term choice than hiring the seemingly most qualified warm body that submits a resume.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this Cyrus! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head that you really need to stand out in some way. You can do crazy things like buy an ad on Facebook or you can just make sure you show your personality in your resume and letter. I’ve always hated the way my resume looks but have also always been afraid to change it up. Remember back in the day when you’d print your resume on fancy card stock? haha no? Maybe I just did that. 😀

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