When Elon Musk wanted to build an electric car company, he realized off the bat that the math didn’t work with current engineering. Aerodynamics created too much drag and resistance, which demanded too much power; bodies were too heavy, which demanded too much power.
And with all that extra power required, a crazy-sized, giant battery would have been required – which would have added more weight, which would have demanded more power, etc. etc.
So they started over from scratch.
They looked at every single panel, the optimal height of the car, the angle of the windshield, and the chemical composition of each and every single part in the automobile, right down to the bolts.
The lesson here?
If you want to do something new, you can’t just slap on a new coat of paint and call yourself an SUV.
You have to strip your career down to its parts.
And now back to your resume
So how does that relate to your career change?
We’ve talked before about how resumes are often just copies of work descriptions – and why that’s a mistake.
High-level accomplishments and responsibilities might be okay if you’re looking for jobs in a related field.
But if you’re looking for a career change – especially a big one – you’ll be selling steak in a vegetarian market.
You have to find a way to pull out all of the transferrable skills you have, and set them in the context of the new job.
The first step is to go into robot mode: write down every single thing you do. Don’t worry about how small it is, or whether it’s how you “define” your job.
You don’t want tasks that take one minute once per year, but if it’s of even moderate significance, add it to the list.
This is just brainstorming right now, so don’t think – just write!
And because this will become the foundation of the “new you,” don’t rush it.
Take your time, and make sure you cover everything.
Add up the bullets
Your list will probably be a lot longer than you might have thought.
We’re used to a dozen bullets at the most for each job on a resume, so might be surprised to see 20, 30, or even 40 bullets during your brainstorming.
But we can take it even further.
Let’s say that every once in a while you’re asked to do a research paper. Something that takes a fair bit of time, nothing trivial.
On your resume, you could just write something generic, like, “Produces research for senior management,” or “Presents data analytics to support strategic decision-making.”
But I know we can do better.
Let’s dig further into what goes into that research report.
Which skills do you use? What actions are needed?
Off the top of my head:
- Technical writing (obviously)
- Project planning
- Project management
- Research methodology
- Data analytics
- Presentation development
- Briefing to senior management
That’s a quick cut at a made-up task. If you are writing research reports (or any kinds of in-depth reports), you probably have a dozen more boxes you need to check before you can say “done.”
But even with that made-up job, I say we can go even further.
Taking the “project planning” bullet, we can break it down even more:
- Resource planning
- Contracting (if needed)
- Task assignments
- Designing objectives
- Developing project templates
I’ll bet – if you really dedicated some thought – you could come up with at least three sub-bullets for every major item listed above.
So let’s do the math: six for “Project Planning,” plus (at least) three more for each of the other seven.
That’s 27 bullets for writing a research report – something that used to be one bullet on your resume. And that isn’t even touching the intangible soft skills, such as:
- Mentor junior team members
- Resolve conflicts and achieve consensus
- Deliver difficult results
…and whatever leadership skills you exhibited that you feel deserve a bit of bragging.
That brings it up to (at least!!) an even 30 bullets.
And you thought writing a research report was all you did!
You might be thinking, “Who cares?”
After all, aren’t resumes supposed to be about quality, not quantity?
Why should we focus on volume?
Ultimately, we won’t. our finished product will be tight, compact, and on target.
But at the beginning, we know our experience in its present form doesn’t align with that target.
So we need to dig deep and find those skills we can bring with us to the new career.
In the next post, we’ll cover how you take these grains of job sand and assemble your resume castle.
Did you try the exercise in this post? What did you find? Were you surprised? Tell us in the comments!