See, Penelope Trunk is awesome at helping you write resumes.

Even though I sometimes have issues with Penelope Trunk, like when she basically tells young women to become Betty Draper except with an MBA, she often says amazing, true stuff.  I also love her willingness to be vulnerable and brutally honest about things like mental illness.

I think the stories you tell about your life ARE your life.  They become your life.  A resume is one format for a life story.  The steps she outlines at the end of the post?

So here is a five-step resume plan for you to take control of your story:

1.     Figure out where you want to be in your career right now, this moment.

2.     Look back on all of your life and pull out the tidbits of your life that somehow relate to what you want to be doing now.

3.     Get rid of everything on your resume that does not relate to what you want to do now.

4.     Make a story that explains the way you got from one moment to the next moment in your life where you were doing what you want to be doing now.

5.     Once you can tell the story verbally, have a resume writer help you build a resume that tells that story in resume format in a compelling way.

The most important thing about a career is that it is a tool to create a vibrant future. Your career is a mutable, dynamic story that you control. If you cannot tell stories about yourself from multiple angles, then the single story you have on that paper controls the rest of your life. You deserve more than that.


That’s why people pay me $150-$200 to write their resumes. That’s my process.  That’s what I do.  I help you figure out what kind of story you want to tell about your life and then we turn that into a resume. Next time you write a resume, get rid of everything you don’t ever want to do again and turn your resume into the story of stuff you are great at and stuff you want to do.

11 thoughts on “See, Penelope Trunk is awesome at helping you write resumes.

  1. That resume plan scares the living crap out of me, so there’s probably something to it, yes?

    …I need to go talk to Old-Me for a while.

    1. Right? My initial gut reaction was “everything on my resume has got to go!” Probably not 100% true, but there’s certainly something to it.

  2. Hahahah. The Betty Draper comment is spot fucking on. I first heard about her blog when a friend linked to that blueprint article of hers. I also take issue with her general denigration of grad school (aside from the MBA-your-way-to-a-husband route, of course). But she’s always interesting, I’ll give her that.

    1. Eventually, as you gain more experience, you’re going to get rid of those jobs (or reduce them to 1-line “I worked there”) things on your resume. In the meantime, you’re going to write great cover letters about why the skills you learned at those jobs apply to the kind of jobs you want.

      1. Without knowing anything about the type of work you’ve done or the type of work you want, I’m a big fan of non-chronological, skills-based resumes for anyone whose prior experience doesn’t obviously match or recommend itself to the stuff they really want to do. (This includes people who don’t have a lot of experience AND people who’ve bumbled a bit on their career paths or changed their minds about their aspirations.) That makes it so you can emphasize only the cool parts of the stuff you’ve been paid to do, but also your education (formal and self-), your volunteer work and even your hobbies if they relate directly to what you really want to get up and do when you wake up in the morning.

  3. I remember seeing the advice in #3 on an earlier post about dealing with getting fired, and I was blown away. I knew you were allowed to delete crappy, unimpressive-sounding jobs that have nothing to do with what you really want (e.g. selling glass hummingbirds at the mall at Christmastime) but was unsure how to talk about the fancy and impressive-sounding job (at a company that is well regarded in its field) that fired me. Turns out 1) I don’t actually have to be good at everything I try and 2) I don’t have to talk about stuff I’m not good at. Such a relief.

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