Songwriting and Resume Writing

You’ve no doubt read many of my posts extolling the need for your resume to tell your career story and to include your relevant achievements. Jimmy Webb’s songwriting achievements include the most memorable tunes of all time: “Up, Up and Away,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “MacArthur Park,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Worst That Could Happen,” “Galveston,” and “All I Know.” I mention Jimmy Webb’s songwriting achievements because there are lessons to be learned that apply to writing an effective resume.        

Webb’s songwriting process always begins with the song title from which he builds the music and lyrics. Job titles are among the most searched Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) keywords. ATS and recruiters start by looking for candidates who have done the same or similar jobs before (or are qualified to), which is why it is so important to make sure you put the title at the top of each specific job you’re applying for.

Songwriting lyrics must tell a story to be meaningful and relatable. Your resume should tell the recruiter or hiring manager your career story so that your experience, education, and achievements convey a purposeful path that makes the job you are applying for the next logical step.

There are millions of songs that share the same three- and four-chord progressions. But, if you only stick to the same few chords, you will limit the scope of your musical ideas. Major, minor, dominant, diminished, and augmented chords create a much more interesting sound. So, too, your transferable skills. The days of the one-resume-does-all are gone. As you look at job postings take note of the keywords and keyword phrases that employers are using and double-check them against what you have listed, continuously revising/tweaking where necessary. You should get comfortable with adapting your Skills section to the job to which you are applying.

Just as successful songwriters approach lyric-writing with both structure and spontaneity, so should resume writing. Have a plan for your resume writing process but leave space for discovery. Become a student of job postings and learn to tweak your resume to fit the job so you can present yourself as the ideal candidate.


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