If the excruciating levels of vulnerability tied to putting yourself out there in a traditional resume wasn’t difficult enough to begin with, we’re typically asked to do so under multiple constraints. Consider this:
- Can everything you are and do be expressed in a single page with a finite number of characters, words, or phrases?
- Can a listicle of your accomplishments truly distinguish you from the crowd of individuals seeking the same job or limited attention economy space?
If your answer to either question is even remotely leaning towards no, then it might be time to rethink the art of resume writing, and create, well, the anti-resume.
Below, we explain the concept of the anti-resume, why it matters to multihyphenates today more than ever before, and offer up a few examples from those who have already adopted attributes of this ethos.
What is the anti-resume?
The anti-resume is intended to challenge every construct of a traditional resume — the dates and companies or bullet points of responsibilities and skills — we’ve accepted as a necessary placeholder towards professional growth. If we remove those assumptions, in its place is something entirely different — a more complete view of everything you are and do.
The anti-resume is intended to challenge every construct of a traditional resume — the list of dates and companies or bullet points of responsibilities and skills — we’ve accepted as a necessary placeholder towards professional growth.
But, in order to subscribe to the concept of the anti-resume, there’s a lot that needs to be removed from the traditional one. Here's three worth highlighting:
1. Is the typical timeline out of date?
The idea that our career trajectories are even remotely linear is outdated. Between job market volatility, returning to school, or career pivots, the way we work is more variable than ever before. Therefore, removing months (or dates all together) from your work history — and with it, the anxiety about any/all gaps — eliminates the need to compensate for the life-impacting events or layoffs that cannot be summarized on paper without much-needed context.
Yes, keep a timeline in terms of your accomplishments, but also acknowledge that what you’ve done shouldn’t be tied to specific moments in time. Rather, they should be evergreen, living on in your online portfolio for as long as you choose to showcase them.
2. Unpacking what we mean when we say "skills"
Many (if not all) job descriptions say that the aptitude (and willingness) to learn new things on the fly is necessary. Yet when it comes to traditional resumes, you’re at risk of being judged by the information that isn’t there, rather than seeing it as an opportunity for someone to grow with a company.
Developing skills or learning a new tool on the job is table stakes for junior and experienced employees alike. Yet, we’re expected to list and have a deep knowledge of (or at least claim to) a wide range of tech on our resumes.
3. Experience in, education out
Data shows that younger college graduates were less likely than older ones to see value in their college education — only a third of college graduates younger than 50 years old said their college experience was extremely useful in helping them develop skills and knowledge that could be used in the workplace, compared to 45% of college graduates ages 50 and older, according to 2022 Pew Research.
Knowing this, why do we still insist on using valuable resume real estate to list our education? The ability to obtain critical skills is more accessible than ever online (and in many cases for free). In our professional lives, we’re assessed on applying the skills we’ve learned rather than where we’ve learned it — so maybe it’s time our resumes were aligned?
Perhaps we can use this space (digital or otherwise) to showcase or add more context on your real-life experience, as we discuss in more detail below.
What should be included in the anti-resume?
First off, being overly prescriptive about what should be included in what we’re referring to as the “anti-resume” would be counterproductive, no? With that established out front, we want to be helpful to the Polywork community in supporting the concept we’re putting forth here, so we’ll proceed to provide some inspiration for you to take and run with or adapt to your needs. A few areas to begin could include:
1. Highlighting more outcomes than outputs
What we have done doesn’t always add up to the desired results. However, when we hit those magic moments where we can directly attribute our decisions to impact, there's something notable there.
Showcasing a reputation as someone who can be relied upon not only for the necessary outputs, but also creating better outcomes, should be a key differentiator that can't be encapsulated in a traditional resume.
2. Touting your collaborations
Personal and professional success often relies on the amount of time we’re able to invest in our own development, for sure, but is also on our ability to collaborate well with others to build something great, together.
The anti-resume should put equal weight on our personal successes and also acknowledge our ability to lead or work well in equal parts with others to create better outcomes.
3. Showing more sides of you
Whether or not you’re the right cultural fit for a collaboration or company is difficult to ascertain through a typical resume. That’s why it’s crucial to have a way to showcase a fuller picture of yourself, your interests, and who you are outside of your 9 to 5 through the anti-resume. For instance:
- Are you able to show off your speaking engagements to demonstrate your leadership skills?
- Does your personal blog cover topics that are adjacent or relevant to the role, despite the fact you're not a writer in title on your resume?
Having a home for this information does not only offer up a more complete version of your abilities, but may have also saved you (and your prospective employers) valuable time answering the compatibility question.
4. Making it digital
There’s also an argument to be made that in some fields, we should be migrating away from the paper resume (or even digital PDF) and towards an interactive experience, acknowledging accessibility barriers that shouldn’t be ignored.
Digital resumes have already become the norm in creative fields (e.g., art and design) to showcase an individual’s work (and at times, personality), yet it hasn’t hit the mainstream in other professions where those attributes can help people stand apart.
Examples of the anti-resume
So, what can the anti-resume look like in reality? Here’s a few examples from the Polywork community that we've curated (and to note in fairness to them, may not necessarily subscribe to any “anti-resume” labeling we've put forth in this article), but that we see with an online portfolio more closely resembling the full picture of you we've discussed above.
1. Leveraging video
Founder, investor, and all-around multihyphenate Brianne Kimmel’s resume is vast — so how do you encapsulate key parts of what you do, your personality, and your impact? You share videos that highlight all three, as she does here in Polywork.
2. A personal website that stands out
While Software engineer Simone Margio embraces a clean layout with a PDF of her experience front and center on her personal website, what makes it stand out is the visual journey through her experience, as we see below.
A timeline of outputs, as we noted above, can be equally (or more) effective than noting the time you’ve spent at a company itself.
3. Showcasing your side hustles
Multihyphenate Karl Koch uses his spare time to work on open source projects for the developer community. Here, he highlights two of the Figma plugins he’s built and improved over time.
Even though his side hustles are adjacent to his full-time gig, his contributions to the open source community are what helps him stand apart — and could be difficult to encompass in limited traditional resume space.
Ready to build the anti-resume? Start by showcasing more of yourself on Polywork.