When you send your resume to a potential employer, you’re probably expecting to stand out from the crowd. You’re hoping your unique experience, skills, and background will pop, but everything that makes you awesome is hidden in the same types of sections as every other resume. Or worse, it’s not there at all. Because let’s face it, mentioning the lawn-mowing empire you built when you were 12 in your work experience section would be a bit odd. But that speaks volumes about who you are!
Now don’t get me wrong, the information in those classic resume sections is still important, but there’s a lot more to you as a person. Because your personality is just as (and often even more) important than your technical qualifications. In fact, a shocking 89% of unsuccessful hires are actually the result of personality or motivational issues and not technical incompetence (which makes up only 11%).
So as it turns out, your resume should be more than a catalog of qualifications. It should bring your personality front and center because that’s actually crucial information for the person hiring you. Still, that’s easier said than done. To help you out, here are 3 questions you should answer on your resume that will help you represent you more as a person, rather than only a professional.
1. What are you most proud of?
According to Lou Adler, the only question that really matters when hiring someone is “What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment?”. Your answer to this question helps to tell your story, what problems you’ve faced, how you tackled them, and what you learned on the way.
But often, you want to list a few things that you’re most proud of. You can pick three or four things that have really formed you as a person - living in another country without knowing the local language, not giving up after failing 4 startups, or even the friendships you’ve built. This is the kind of information that makes HR want to invite you for an interview and even makes people say “wow” when reading your resume.
2. What do you do in your free time?
Another popular interview question is - “How do you spend your free time?”. By asking this question, the interviewer is trying to understand what else you do besides working and why. The answer helps them evaluate how you’re growing, the things you’re passionate about, and the common ground between you and other team members. So why not tell them that before the interview? It’s a great chance to stand out, as our spare time is unique to all of us and sometimes defines us better than the jobs we’ve had in the last 10 years.
3. What are your favorite books?
Elon Musk has bachelor degrees in physics and economics, but it's an absurd overstatement to say that they prepared him to run Tesla Motors or to send rockets into space. When asked how he has learned things, his answer was simple - “I read books”.
Considering Elon Musk was never been a great student, leaving out information like this would have made his resume look positively mediocre before he co-founded Paypal. Adding your favorite books can do the same for you, show your passions, your autodidactic drive, and maybe just how interesting you are.
So go for it, mention how proud you are of building the greatest lawn-mowing empire in the tri-state area, bring up how much time you spend building airplanes in your garage, and by all means, name-drop the book that changed your life. It might seem unusual at first but it gives your future employers a couple of reasons to keep your resume on top of the “yes” pile.