How to Write a Better Resume: A Lesson from 86 Lobsters

Photo credit: Pirate Republic

Photo credit: Pirate Republic

“Ask me to tell you the story of 86 lobsters…”

This was an actual line in my resume and it appeared after the summary blurb but before my work history. It was, unequivocally, the most important line in my resume for reasons that I will share later, but first, let me tell you about the fateful night when it all fell apart...

Imagine a hot, humid summer night next to the ocean. Reggae beats pulsing through the thick air. People laughing and shouting over each other to be heard. Waitstaff bustling between tables, and topping off Solo cups with beer being split from pitchers.

As a new server working at a seasonal seafood restaurant, I was working the crab deck (that is a thing in Maryland) and we were slammed. Seating on the deck meant huge picnic tables that could hold 10-12 customers. On this night, they came...wave after wave.

The special was lobster and we 86’d on lobster right in the middle of prime time. The kitchen let all the servers know. The problem was that I did not know that “86” means that the kitchen is actually all out of that product or plate. I thought, “Great! 86 more on hand…..not sure why you are calling it out but whatever.” The other problem was that, as a new server, I quickly became overwhelmed with the volume of customers. Service fell apart with several tables leaving and many folks waiting. It was a painful experience, a failure, but it was also a learning experience.

I learned that if you don’t understand something at work, ask, and if you need help, ask. Ignorance and pride lead to failure (the bad kind) and hurt you and the people around you. On that night, my customers, the kitchen, my whole team...they hated me. I let them all down.

Why would I put this on my resume?

The answer is twofold.

When being interviewed by a good manager, they are not really concerned about how you will handle things when they go right, they are concerned about how you will handle things when they go wrong. This is at the heart of many of the more cliche interview questions such as, “What is your biggest weakness?” or “How do you handle conflict?”. The manager is trying to figure out what you will do when things go wrong. However, these cliche questions usually fail to get to the true answers.

The other reason I included this story in my resume was that it gave me the chance to tell a story and to create engagement with the hiring manager. Everyone loves a good story and it made my candidacy memorable. Hiring managers might be interviewing dozens or even hundreds of candidates. Creating engagement with a good manager will help them to remember you for another opportunity if you don’t get hired immediately. I would consider this a small investment for a potentially large future return.

If you haven’t reviewed your resume recently, take a look at it and spend some time updating it...even if you are not looking to make a move.

Remember, your resume isn’t just for when you’re on the job hunt, it is also a living document that can help you assess your career objectives and recognize what skills or experiences you need to acquire to move your career forward. Also, take the time to reflect on your own personal experiences and moments when you might have shined or stumbled. Maybe you too might want to include a line asking to tell a story. You will be amazed at how effective this can be and I hope it leads to a job of your dreams.

Written byAustin Meyermann, Founder and President of Hunter Crown, LLC

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