Luis enrique Osorio at his typewriter in 1922 (from Osorio family album)

Writing a Level 3 Résumé / C.V.

Forrest Christian Careers 7 Comments

Almost everything that experts tell you about putting together a résumé falls apart for hidden high potentials (2HiPo’s) because the same rules don’t apply. A great example is the advice these “résumé / CV” experts give you regarding your work history: “make it in bullet points!”

Which is fine if you are at Stratum 1 or Stratum 2. But the bullet points approach totally fails for jobs at Level 3, the first Real Manager position.

Stratum 1 thinking looks a lot like a bulleted list when you hear it. Things are just stated:

  • I’m a good worker.
  • I worked on Chevys.
  • I made the garden look great by planting flowers.

Stratum 2 thinking and jobs look like 1 but with “and-ing”:

  • I’m a good worker and I come in on time.
  • We worked on Mercedes, Volvo and GMC trucks.
  • I made the garden, sidewalks and yards look great by planting flowers.
  • I wrote a dissertation on post-modernism, modernism and pre-modernism in teaching.
  • I bought and sold stocks and commodities on the CSE and the Mercantile Exchange, and made $500k last year.

I have seen the transcript of an actual interview with a Stratum 2 PhD. That’s right — you don’t need a high stratum to get a PhD. Work at Stratum 2 can include stock trading and some folks apparently can make a great deal of money at Stratum 2. Also celebrities.

The normal bullet-list résumé works well for Stratum 1 and 2 jobs because it mimics the mental processes that the hiring manager will want to see.

The problem is with Stratum 3 jobs.

(All this gets frustrated even more because technical experts at Level 2 often have the same type of job title as one at Level 3. Take, for example: “senior programmer” and “lead programmer” and “developer”. Can you figure out which needs a Stratum 3 résumé)

A Level 3 résumé has to be written differently.

If there is such a thing as a Level 3 résumé.

It’s common in the career counseling biz to say that there is no such thing as an executive résumé. I’m figuring that this means Level 5 and above, with Level 4 being a weird, résumé-unfriendly but not totally hostile place.

Here’s my thinking on this:

Level 3 résumés / CVs include directed series of events leading to some outcome.

Write a Level 3 résumé like a Level 3 worker to argue a point: in a series. The outcome would be “profit went up 30%” or “sales of $5M” or “enabled $145B of trades in first nine months”. (The last one is from my own CV, natch.) The precursors would the decisions that you took to get to that.

Put large lists of “skills”, such as the variety of programming languages known or accounting applications used, in less prominent positions.

I’m also betting that the HR departments are very, very poor at getting adequate Level 3 candidates, since most HR folks are clueless about what a new hire needs to succeed in a role.

(I’m not that thrilled with what I’ve seen out of hiring managers, either.)


image: Luis Enrique Osorio at his typewriter. From the Osorio family album, via Wikimedia commons. Creative Commons Attribution 3 license.

Comments 7

  1. I think we could rest assured that the level 3, or 4, or 5 would compose his or her resume in a manner that reflects his or her CMP. The sum of the covering letter and the highlights and objectives summarized within the resume would present the individual’s capability. For a level 3 it is natural to define the effects and outcomes associated with the conditional logic. The resume would otherwise appear incomplete to the writer. He or she would be left with the notion that the resume is incomplete without the effect defined in association with the cause and effect sequence.

    I went and had a look at my own resume and noted that it is presented highlighting both the abstract concepts associated with >Level 4 and the concrete tangibles. Without previously consdiering that I should ensure my resume is reflective of my CMP I note that it is. It discusses culture, hierarchical structure, technical, financial, and social systems, etc.

    I think the bigger risk than the one you define is the applicant being too big for the job and the opportunity being the employer, with an understanding of stratfied systems theory distinguishing this in the recruitment process. The employer absent this understanding may be bowled over by the quality of the resume and the individual who is applying to be underemployed and then left spent when he or she observes the behaviours that accompany people who are underemployed and misplaced int he organization. Attention naturally turns to the hired individual and not the deficiencies in the recruitment process.

    All in all I would not be too concerned about the applicant summarizing his or her CV in S1 or S2 language when he or she is bigger than S1 or S2.

  2. Post

    The problem is that career industry people actually go to lengths to tell people not to have that type of language. It’s an odd problem, one that probably has a limited audience anyway.

  3. I was interviewing this week and prompted by this thread looked over the CVs. There appeared to be no correlation between stratum of CV and stratum of individual. Though this is a small sample and is not statistically significant.

    I was looking for stratum 2 and 3, most candidates were S2. Most CVs were written at S1 or S2. The only S3 candidate had a CV written at S1.

    I expect that a lot of people get a lot of advice about structure and style of CV, some people just keep updating their old CV using the same style (if it worked for me before . . .) and others get it done for them by a ‘professional CV writer’ might explain the results that I observed.

  4. The previous comments have all been very interesting. I’d like to make a few (perhaps obvious) observations.
    In terms of making judgments about a candidate’s CIP from Cvs I think that a large pinch of salt should be taken when reading and interpreting them. CV styles can be copied easily, the individual candidate may be trying to second-guess what the recruiter is looking for and CV writers and career counsellors can misadvise candidates about pitching their “level”, based on their own current CIP (I haven’t met many who are above Level 3).

    In addition, some very high capability candidates, desperate for jobs in a competitive market, will often intuitively sense the need to dumb down to the recruiter’s level. Great pity and waste of an opportunity all round. Some of the CV screeners will not be the prospective line manager, may be operating at a lower level of CIP themselves (and therefore fail to recognise higher level candidates) and, as a result, the most suitable CVs may never make it to the shortlist presented to the line manager.

    If a candidate’s CIP could be accurately presented and interpreted within the context of a CV, what a powerful and cost-effective tool it could be as part of the recruitment process. (Mass scale graduate recruitment programmes spring to mind as opportunities to control costs and start the talent pool development process at the same time.)

    On a different note, as an RO practitioner in the UK, you wouldn’t believe the number of times a potential client has asked me to “dumb down” (their words, not mine)the contents of information summaries or presentations/seminars about RO. When I present to an audience of mixed levels (CIP levels, not just work Strata)I struggle to put across messages to meet their varied needs and abilities to handle complexity. I have some sympathy with them, of course – I was in transition to Level 4 at the time I learned about RO and am now Low Level 5, so I can recall how I had to get my own mind around some of the basic concepts. Feedback and ideas would be appreciated!

  5. Post

    [CV (curriculum vitae) = résumé, because I hate typing diacritics]

    I’ve had some success with talking to a variety of people about these concepts, but I approach it from a different perspective from lots of RO folks. I always start with the idea of having a Real Boss and then tell the Myth of its “discovery” by two guys on the shop floor, when the barged into Jaques’s office by the gate and gave him the goods.

    On the C.V. issue, I originally started this as a way to help higher-mode workers who were currently underemployed create CVs that would help them get better jobs. Having a CV that sounds like Str2 is probably not in their best interest, but neither is having one that is Str5 since almost no one would hire them (capacity and capability don’t match up). I’d had a string of Modes 6-8 talk with me about their sorry lives and it was obvious that the issue of underemployment was a severe problem. Having a CV that would help them get a job (any job) by being more consistent sounding one stratum or another might give them an edge once they get to a human being’s review.

    They would then have to rachet down their talk to be lower stratum because no one is going to hire them for a right-fit job, since they have been underemployed for so long. It’s a trick, sure, but for them, the point is getting work, any work.

    I’m not sure that it all works. There’s the old saw in the US that “there’s no such thing as an executive CV” is probably true: there is no good way to communicate one’s experience in a CV at that level. Perhaps Str4+.

    So that raises two questions:

    1) Does CV doctoring help? I found that by rewording my recent forray into OD as “I was writing a book” and adding a couple of keywords made it much easier for me to get work (I’m a contractor writer). But does it help here?

    2) How can high-mode underemployed persons get out of where they are? I’m still leaning towards them having to leave the system and attack it from outside, but I’m open to ideas.


  6. High mode underemployed people may seem to have a particular problem, as you say, if only because of the number of job opportunities available at higher organizational levels. However, I think that taking any old job at a lower level, even to remedy financial necessity, is likely to lead to compounded problems all round, unless they can soak up their excess capability elsewhere in their lives.
    There is another point to make here. In today’s markets, with increased outsourcing of business functions there are more choices available to those individuals whose Work Values match them to working as, say, independent contributors – I’m thinking of obvious career choices such as interim management and external consultant/coach roles as well as those people who want to set up their own businesses at whatever Stratum they see fit. Those can be very liberating career choices, provided that the individuals are prepared to risk leaving the financial security net of working for someone else.

  7. Pingback: High-Moders and Hierachies by Requisite Reading

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