When my son Jake was growing up, “because I said so” was not – in his mind – a valid reason for a request.
He was, and is, stubborn, intelligent, quick witted and a challenge-any-establishment-kind of kid. As he gets older, I can appreciate these qualities, most of the time. Of course there are still times that I have had enough of the challenge and the old, “because your mother said so” comes out signaling an end of discussion.
What I found most helpful when dealing with my son was to explain, in a manner which he understood, the why emphasizing the benefit to him. Of course, there was normally another benefit, but that was hidden behind the ‘him’ reason because, quite frankly, that is the only reason he really cared about.
For example cooking.
All my boys learned to cook. It was a requirement. Once a week they were responsible for planning and executing a meal. Not a pop tarts with a side of mac and cheese meal, a real meal. I taught them how to budget and shop for the necessary food; prepare and serve; and clean up after the meal.
My reasons were it gave me a break from cooking meals and eliminated any whining about what was for dinner. I also did not want to hear years later from a potential daughter-in-law that her husband never cooks. That would be on her because my boys were going to learn to fend for themselves.
The reason I gave them: girls really like a guy who can cook and cooks for them. Worked like a charm. Of course, years later my son told me I was right, girls loved that he could cook; and his friends were also quite impressed with his budget/cooking savvy.
So what does this have to do with your resume? A slightly odd parallel, but one nonetheless. You are learning to fend for yourself in writing your own resume. During job searching and networking, people really like a person who knows their value, how they can contribute to others and can communicate it clearly for them to understand.
That is the baseline of your resume – to discover and be able to communicate your value – even if no one ever reads it.
Your resume is the baseline for everything for career transitions, whether looking for a change in industries or moving up in your current profession. You have to know what you are cooking, what ingredients go into it and how to present it before anyone is going to be daring enough to take a bite.
There is a lot of preparation that goes into a meal. You have to know what ingredients you need, have a budget for the food, plan cooking times knowing some items will take longer than others, understand what seasonings or add ins are going to make or break each dish.
That is your resume. A detailed look at what you have done in the past knowing the intricacies that make you unique and valuable.
Simply giving a description of what you were hired to do in the past is like opening a can of beans and plopping it in a bowl and calling it a side.
Start breaking your position down into pieces. Start with a general statement: what did you do? Let’s stay with the cooking theme, and I am going to be very generic on this as it is an attempt at a fun example.
- What did you do? I was a cook.
- What does that mean, what did you do as a cook? I prepared food.
- How, what was involved? I had to get all the ingredients, plan and prepare the meals.
- Who did you work with? I had staff that helped prepare and order.
- How did you work with them? I oversaw some to make sure we had an accurate inventory and when to order; I worked with others making sure they got their items prepared at the right time before and during the dinner rush.
- How did you do that? I met with the order staff weekly to go through all the items, plan meals and prepare orders. The assistants I trained them on how to cook, prepare and present food.
- Who did that benefit and how? Our customers – they had good food; the company – it made more money; me – it gave me more time; my staff – they did better at their jobs, more efficient and more skills so they got better reviews and some moved up into better cooking positions.
Go deep to start having the ‘who did you work with, how, what did you do and what was the benefit’ conversations. This will reveal your value and allow you to translate that to a document that will be easily understood by the reader.
But what if no one ever reads it, like I said before? Not a problem.
Once you detail out your value, you will be able to communicate it to any audience. The parameters of the format above are similar to the behavioral based interview style The STAR Method: Situation, Task, Action, Result. Most interviews are behaviorally based. Having completed the resume exercise you will be fully versed and comfortable answering behavioral based questions.
When networking you will be able to answer the question ‘what do you do’ from a value perspective which will generate much more interest than responding with simply your title. You will be able to translate your value in a manner that your audience will understand which will engage them.
Writing your resume is a great exercise to rediscover and reengage with the things you love to do, what ignites your passion, what drives you, what is fun for you to do and what you do best. It gives you a little spark and jazzes you by remembering that you are pretty darn good at what you do. It helps you better communicate with your network or potential employers so they can clearly understand your value and see how it would benefit them – translating to wanting to have you on their team.
If those reasons are not enough for you, write your resume because your mother said so, or at least because Jake’s mom said so.
As the Founder and Principle of Career Polish, Inc., a national career coaching and practice firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
I help people get from where they are in their jobs to where they want to be in their careers.
Click here – CareerPolish.com – to find out more about how we can help you.
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