Why I Read Resumes From the Bottom Up

October 19, 2010

People’s lives are amazing stories.  As someone constantly on the hunt for amazing design and product management talent, I see a lot of resumes in my inbox.  Today I received one that upon opening, was very overwhelming to read.  It was thick with text, buzzwords, and hype-talk…. but rather than being overwhelmed, I just scrolled immediately to the bottom of the resume to find some breathing room.   It was there I noticed something very interesting…

The very last section of a resume is actually where you learn the most about the person you are considering hiring.  Its in that bottom section that a glimmer of the person’s true personality emerges, and they show their true selves.   At the bottom of the resume is where people tell us they love cooking, or windsurfing, or volunteering as a karate instructor.  Working in a company where culture fit is as important (if not more) as skills fit, its the bottom where a person’s true cultural orientation comes through.   Its where you learn what they are most passionate about, what they would be doing if they didn’t have to work.   It tells you of they are the adventurous type, an intellectual, a weekend hacker, or an amateur electrician.  Its here that I begin to understand this person’s outlook on life, and how they seek to constantly improve themselves.

From there, I read upwards, typically passing through their education, which tells me more about their path.  Then I read through their early jobs, and start to see the complete narrative of a person’s career trajectory.  Finally, I get to the top where I read about what they are currently working on, and what they are looking to do next.  This part is also interesting, but having all of the context about who the person is, and where they’ve been, completes the picture for me.

Next time you read a resume, or view someone’s LinkedIn profile, skip the flouncy wording at the top, and head straight for the bottom.  Its at the bottom of it all, where the real story begins.

about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.