Context-Driven Resume: Product and Users

Posted by Albert Gareev on Mar 16, 2016 | Categories: Hiring ProcessJob Finding

Resume Is A Product

You design it. You build it. You test it. You debug it.

More importantly, you intend it to be used by others.

Let’s think of a resume as a product.

And let’s ask ourselves a few questions to learn further about the context.

  • Who are my clients? Who are my users?
  • What are their purposes?
  • How they use the product?
  • How they operate the product?
  • In what environment?

(If you’re really getting into it, you might even want to try applying the P.E.R.S.O.N.A. approach).

So, who are my users?

Interlude: Recruiters


(Image source: Pinterest)

Recruiters are the users who spend a lot of their time working with resume products. They saw some good resumes and they saw tons of horrible ones. Recruiters are swamped by resumes. Recruiters are bored by resumes.

Professional recruiters have developed an instinctive skill of resume evaluation.

To recruiters, your resume is you.

Think of it. Your looks, your manners, your communication skills – everything might be undermined by sloppy format and a few typos. And your application gets rejected before you know it.

I know, some job seekers hate recruiters. Yes, there are some people in hiring who abuse the power of the process, and enjoy belittling the candidates. But far more often it’s the candidates who are unable to manage their anxiety, falling into shooting of the messenger.

I, in fact, admire professional recruiters.

  • Professional recruiters are nice. They’re attentive and good listeners. They’re even tolerant of the resume mistakes if they can still see the good potential.
  • They’re genuinely interested in you – because when they present you, they also put their own reputation on the line. Mind that a poorly written candidate’s resume might negatively reflect on them, too.
  • They may have certain understanding of the technical part but mostly they have to play with what they were given. That includes keywords matching and demands of the position, however unrealistic they were.

Make sure to have a recruiter-friendly resume.

Interlude: Robots


(Image source:

As “robots” I refer all kinds of programs and automatic systems that gather and parse resume data.
Read below the bullet points why I chose this picture to portray the automatic tools.

  • Robots, “applicant tracking systems”, “automatic recruitment software”, and this kind are nowadays also “users” of the resume product. Sometimes they’re the first that get to “see” your resume, and they may filter it out, so a human doesn’t get a chance to see it.
  • They’re becoming more and more technologically advanced, and they’re still creepy despite of all seeming elegance. Because of their inhumanity, not the looks.
  • They mostly check your resume against the pre-defined patterns and keywords, but some of them may crawl further and gather additional information about you, scattered around the Web.
  • They may have weird algorithms for “ranking” you, based on the keywords, years of experience, location, past jobs, and other mechanized criteria.

I, personally, do not endorse replacement of good old human judgment and skilled interaction with excessive automation. But I test and study how these robots work to take better chances with my resume.

Interlude: Hiring Managers


(Image source: the author took this picture)

Why I show you this picture to portray a hiring manager? – Because I offer no visual stereotypes. You could still see someone there. Hint: Recall or read “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Hiring Manager is a role here, not a title. It might be a lead, middle or senior manager, executive, or business owner. The Hiring Manager is not necessarily the one who signs the legal papers. They may sign based on the decision of someone they trust. The process and the decision might be delegated to an immediate supervisor for the role, or a senior team member, or a group.

Hiring Manager is the one who decides if you will be able to do the job.

So, what kind of resume one should have to draw attention of hiring managers?

No single best approach here.

Some managers have in mind a particular work and tasks, and might be looking for a close match, while some might be looking for a potential. Some might need a problem solver capable to learn on the go, and they will look for similar accomplishments in your past experiences.

The hiring decisions are made based on the personal impressions, during and around the interview(s).

The decision whether they want to meet with you is based on your resume. But how?

I’m offering another heuristic.

For any meaningful role, the Hiring Manager has a story (or stories) in mind. If the story in your resume appeals to them - they might want to meet with you.

  • The hiring story is never about presence of degrees, certifications, technical skills and knowledge of tools. It’s about interactions, deliverables, accomplishments – in the context of the job.
  • The hiring story might be very detailed or very vague; the degree of matching between your story and hiring story might be very important or very light; the very evaluation itself might be highly formalized or completely unconscious (“gut feeling”).
  • You can’t control anything on the side of the hiring story. But you can control what kind of stories you have in your resume. Again, this is not about on-paper accomplishments but about deliberate efforts and creating value.

(Stay tuned. To be continued..)

2016-03-29 Update

I can’t help but refer an excellent article by Steve Johnson here.

When the product is YOU

Original post:


  • “You should always know where you stand in the company or else your manager is not doing his or her job. That said, if you don’t know how you’re perceived by your boss and your executives, that’s probably bad.”
  • Employers do not hire you because you need a job; employers hire you to solve their problems.
  • “You are a product. [..] Stop thinking about job hunting as a mysterious concept; it’s just product definition and delivery.”
  • “You want to focus on the problems you are able to solve and the results you’ve achieved in similar product situations rather than specifications and capabilities.”
  • “A job-hunting maxim: “Dig the well before you’re thirsty.” You want to be networking all the time, making connections, helping out others, being a friend.”
  • “Recruiters are sales people. And like sales people, some are good; some are bad.”
  • “The cover letter tells your story, explaining your experience in the context of the job opening.”


  • 2 responses to "Context-Driven Resume: Product and Users"

  • Rajesh Mathur
    24th March 2016 at 1:04

    Good job Albert! As always!
    I met a recruiter today who shared his frustration about CVs. He said he can’t spend hours looking at CVs because he has other important things to do as well like meeting clients like me, making new clients, speaking to candidates and manage his own team and their performance. His company, which is one of the biggest in the global recruiting market, has devised a way by which they just reject a lot of CVs if they look very common (boiler plate) and do not tell a story that matches recruiters’ and hiring managers’ stories.

    I am going to share your posts with some of these guys.

    Have a good Easter!


    [Albert’s reply: Thank you, Rajesh! That means a lot.]

  • Steve Johnson
    30th March 2016 at 7:27

    Thanks for quoting my article on LinkedIn. You can also find it on my blog at

    For me, the good news is that product managers should have an easy time planning a job hunt because the process is one they already understand. You are a product; just define your market, position your skills, and then promote YOU.


Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported
This work by Albert Gareev is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported.