A When Life Review Of, "What's Your Story?" by Herminia Ibarra and Kent Lineback - Crafting Your Résumé

Not long ago, I reviewed an article titled, “What’s Your Story.” In my opinion, the authors had two unique concepts of storytelling intertwined together to produce one associated report.

They take the idea of telling a compelling transition story, and applying it to not only allowing the person to understand how important and motivating it is for one to be able to connect their old self with their new (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, par. 47), but also how telling a coherent transition story can help with crafting a persuasive résumé (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, par. 34). My focus in that piece was on creating and understanding the importance of a coherent transition story. How when fashioned correctly can help us believe in ourselves and the path we choose to follow (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, par. 7).

This time, I will be utilizing the article to hopefully help you craft a storytelling résumé that won’t bog down your potential interviewer with nothing but boring facts.



First off, what in the world is the difference between a résumé and a CV, or curriculum vitae?

There are several differences, but the main one that is the most important for this post, is the narrative aspect. CVs are usually longer because it serves as more of an “exhaustive and strictly chronological list of facts about your professional life,” (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, left sidebar starting next to par. 35). They are important, sometimes more for some careers than others, but as far as telling a story, it doesn’t quite fit the bill. However, a résumé, on the other hand, is extremely valuable when it comes to drafting your story (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, left sidebar starting next to par. 35). Just like in telling a transition story, your résumé needs to tell a coherent story. It should state facts, but it should also allow your potential employer to be able to construct a story in their mind (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, left sidebar starting next to par. 35). So, CV, like a list; résumé, like a story.

In drafting your résumé, don’t forget we are trying to stay coherent and relevant. With that said, you may need either more than one version or an understanding that each time you interview you may need to tweak it to make it specific to the job you are interviewing for; even if it is in the same field, such as healthcare or management. “Each will highlight and interpret your experience differently in light of the job or career alternatives you’re exploring,” (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, left sidebar starting next to par. 35). Make sure yours does that!



Your goal is to try and create a résumé that draws your reader in so that they can create a story in their mind, only to have you validate it by telling a story that supports the facts listed.

The authors state that your résumé should be built in three parts (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, left sidebar starting next to par. 35). Just like with any other résumé you’ve probably created, describing the position you are after (or your goal) is the first thing you will do.

The second step includes creating a “bulleted list of experience highlights that clearly demonstrate your ability to do that job,” (Ibarra, and Lineback, left sidebar starting next to par. 35). Think of it like this, when you are in your interview, your (hopefully) potential new employer is looking at, reading over, or has read over this list and now is looking for you to tell “your story” to pull that list together so that it reflects why they should hire you. “Consider every piece of experience you have (don’t forget volunteer work or anything else that might apply), and identify which parts support the story you’re telling,” (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, left sidebar starting next to par. 35). The authors referenced this area as your highlights area.

Your third and last section should be your summary. The authors state, “This section of your résumé has the appearance of a CV, in reverse chronological order, and includes all the relevant positions you’ve held; for each job, it shows dates of employment as well as your responsibilities and accomplishments,” (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, left sidebar starting next to par. 35). You want this section to wrap it all up with a bow. You’ve stated your goal, you’ve listed your highlighted experiences, and now you are trying to show in this section how all of it relates. Your listed employment should support your highlights which should support your overall goal.



“Follow these steps, and your résumé will tell a coherent story. The work you have done, and the skills and interests you have developed and revealed, will point to a clear and desirable resolution: your stated goal,” (Ibarra, and Lineback, 2005, left sidebar starting next to par. 35). I have personally never thought much about my résumé. It always was just something I had to make sure had current information, and that I actually remembered to print it out before I left the house. Having stepped into the world of storytelling and learning how it applies to so many of the areas of your life, it comes as no surprise the vast amount of information out there on how valuable it can be when not only making a life transition, but a career one at that. Yes, facts are important, but stories about life experiences, in this case job experiences, do not have to be. Sure, others can relate to facts, but telling a story about yourself makes you just so much more relatable and human. Walking into an interview and saying, “I like nightshift, I want to be a nurse,” or “I like bossing people around, can I apply for the manager position posted,” is not going to give anyone the feels like a good relevant story. I wanted to be a nurse because my dad has Crohn’s disease and has been on deaths door and back; I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life like his nurses did. I went into management because I love teaching and being a mentor to others. I had a manager that was a brilliant and I aspired to be just like her professionally. She was an inspiration to me. That would have been my story.

Now, who would YOU hire?

I write posts like these not because they fall in line with When Life’s mission per se, but to show people how effective and relevant storytelling can be in so many areas of your life. On top of that, after being miserable in a job for so long, my hope is that I can share tools related to telling your story that can help either inspire you to step out of your comfort zone to try something completely different or reach for something bigger and better. I know what it is like to feel stuck in a job where you are miserable every day. I am here to tell you, it does NOT have to be that way. Get up, write your story, and get out there! You can do it!


I’m believing in you!



Works Cited

Ibarra, Herminia. Lineback, Kent. “What’s Your Story.” Harvard Business Review Online. Harvard Business Review, January 2005. Accessed, June 2017.

A version of this article appeared in the January 2005 issue of Harvard Business Review.


Pictures Courtesy of Haute Stock

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published