Where Do I Start?

Having and Option and ChoosingI tend to overwhelm people, not on purpose and not in a bad way; I’m very driven about what I do.  So when I lead workshops on resumes I tend to overwhelm them.


It all makes sense and since this is what I do I can make it sound very simple.  Then it starts to sink in and becomes very overwhelming.  That’s when they ask:


“Where do I start?”


That’s when I do one thing that drives me crazy; I answer with a question – well actually three:


“What do you want?”

“What do have to offer?”

“How do the two come together?”


Before you even put words to paper you need to know the answers to these three questions.  Especially if you are going about this on your own; you may not know the exact road but you should have some essential tools to help you navigate the path ahead.


These are the tools that will guide you in the right direction and keep you on target.


As with any goal you need to know what it is you want, what you are willing to give, what you are not and how you will know when these things come into harmony with the right opportunity.


What Do You Want


What type of job do you want – a promotion, a lateral move or an entirely new direction?  Write it down.  Then write down why.  Knowing why you want to go in this direction will help you clarify your motives.


You may be financially, emotionally or otherwise motivated.  Each of these motivations has their own set of parameters so it is important to know the motivation to identify your strengths that will help keep you encouraged; and the challenges that you need to overcome to reach your goal.


No judgment.  It is your life, you decision, your goal so don’t get in the trap of justifying why you feel the way you do.  You feel it therefore it is not wrong.  Just go with it.


What Do You Have to Offer


In other words: what is your value?  What are your skills, abilities and strengths?  While you are at it you might as well jot down the challenges, too.  This will help eliminate some jobs and factors of positions in the future.


This list of all your impressive qualities should be expansive – list everything.  I don’t care how small or minute, if it is a good quality write that sucker down.  Stop trying to decide if it is important – if it is a positive write it down.


You need to get as full of a list as possible because at times you are going to feel stuck, upset, frustrated or any number of negative things about the job search so coming back to this grand positive list will help get you back on track.


Now put the qualities to test – tell why and how these are positives.  This is called justification and it will help you immensely.  We are our own worst critic so if you can justify to your own negative side then you can easily communicate the positives in a interview or networking setting.


But you have to know why they are a positive first then be able to tell how you have used them in a positive way: that is the how.  How have you used these skills, how have you added value and what are the results of you performing these feats of positive attributes?


How Do They Come Together


This is a two part step.


The first step is now going back to your history and revamping the tired resume from a synopsis of bullet points of job duties to a demonstrative narrative of value added in the spirit of where you are going.


That was a lot in one sentence – let me break it down.


Stop telling people what you were hired to do (old bullet points).

Tell them what you did and how (adding value).

Focus on the points that are important to the next position (writing forward).


There, that is better.


Write it all out.  Let the bullet points be five, ten sentences long – who cares.  It is a rough draft, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is you get it down – all of it.  From there you can tweak, edit, break apart, expand, move, combine – do what you need to make the bullets more succinct.


The second step is reviewing opportunities.


When reviewing opportunities you have two lists to compare against to determine if the job fits you.


Not just the positives; make sure you check against that challenge list, too.  No need getting yourself into a job doing the things you don’t like or can’t do well.


Oh yes, and I did say if the job fits you.


That’s right – no longer are you thinking if you fit the job but rather if it fits you.  After all, you know where you want to go and what you have to offer so there is no settling for anything less than you deserve.  Just look at all those wonderful qualities – why on earth would you settle?



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



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