Resume as Narrative: A Linguist reflects on the process of professional storybuilding

Anna Marie Trester


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While professional identities (like all identities) are largely discursively accomplished, the specific contextualized components which constitute “sounding professional” are often poorly understood, or indeed recognized more often in their absence, which presents an interesting challenge to those tasked with learning these ways of talking in securing a job, for example graduate students in a professionally-oriented MA program in sociolinguistics.  This paper considers the linguistic process of presenting a professional identity, with particular focus on the resume as a very carefully constructed storyworld in which every linguistic choice (i.e. referring expression) contributes to positionings that construct and convey identity.   Just as with any story, through the choices that we make in highlighting one aspect of a job over another “our identities as social beings emerge as we construct our own individual experiences as a way to position ourselves in relation to social and cultural expectations” (Schiffrin 1996)


language and identity, professional identity, narrative, lists, intertectuality, ethnography, business schools

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