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Why an Insider Resume Doesn’t Work When You’re on the Outside

Every job candidate must know the distinctions between an insider resume and an outsider resume and which document is needed when. Depending on the situation, an insider resume can either propel you forward or keep you in a holding pattern, making it feel like you are moving backward.

What’s the Difference between an Insider Resume and an Outsider Resume?

Let’s define the terms briefly, which are relative to each individual’s unique circumstances.

Insider Resume

This is the type of resume that helps you get a promotion or different job within the organization for which you currently work. For an insider resume, the writer can confidently assume the reader has the appropriate knowledge of the work and industry. In short, the context of your work is understood by the reader.

Outsider Resume

This is the type of resume you use when you are trying to break into a new organization or company. Context is critical in an Outsider resume because you can’t assume the reader already knows the industry, your job, or company projects and lingo.

The Big Picture

Insider resumes don’t work when you are on the outside. Insider resumes often lack context. They might contain highly specific, unique-to-an-individual-employer information. For instance, what is the significance of the following phrase?

Golden Star recipient.

What does that mean? Is this a company award? If so, how many employees receive it? How many employees work at the company? Is this the top award? Or is there a platinum award? What achievement is the award for? A technical skill? Teamwork? And what is the selection process? Was the person nominated by peers or selected by management? The list of questions is endless.

How can we revise this statement for an outside reader?

Earned Golden Star award (2013) in recognition for placing in the top 1% of all sales professionals within the Enterprise (2,000+ sales reps) based on new client revenue.

Do you see how this statement provides detail to an outside reader while the previous one is meaningless beyond stating the applicant won some type of award?

The takeaway point is simple: You need to know your place within the big picture.

If your job campaign is equivalent to a football game, you absolutely must know whether you have home field advantage. Insider resumes give you home field advantage because you are already a known quantity. Your peers, managers, and many others in the company already know you, your work, your work ethic, and the context in which you’ve conducted your work.

Outsider resumes are a whole other ball game. When you are the Outsider—when you are the visiting team—you have to pull out all the stops. Context is key. Outsiders will insufficiently understand your experience and accomplishments if you write from the assumption they are insiders.


You must always write from the reader’s perspective, and you must also know when you have home field advantage—or not. Know your place within the big picture, and then write your resume accordingly.

Heidi owns and operates Career Path Writing Solutions, a communications consulting firm dedicated to helping individuals and businesses communicate when it matters most. She delights in helping job seekers navigate career change and guiding business owners to present their value proposition persuasively. Heidi earned her PhD in history from Duke University and teaches professional development for various university programs and organizations. She holds certifications in resume writing, interview preparation, and empowerment coaching, and sits on the Certification Committee of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

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