A lot of people who want to change careers think of all the “things they’re good at,” in a very broad sense, and immediately jump to trying for that dream job.
For those of you with family connections in the president’s office: high-five! Glad it was easy.
For the rest of us, we need to start with a bottom-up approach before writing a resume if we want success.
No Quick Fixes
Often we use the same boilerplate resume for every job we seek, and maybe just tweak it here or there to show we read the job poster.
This is a big problem for the Career Nomad. The job we’re seeking might be so far from the job we have, that we end up cramming the cover letter full of excuses about why we’re such a darned good hire, even though you’re not going to like what you see on the following page.
The main problem with this approach is that you’re asking someone to ignore your experience – and maybe even forgive it!
You’re worth more than that.
On the other hand…
The flip side of this problem is trying to spread a surface-level spin on your experience.
Just change a word here, maybe a word there. Then it gets tweaked a bit more, and a bit more, and what do we end up with?
A resume that means nothing, doesn’t speak to what you can do, and doesn’t hit the target job.
To sell yourself properly, you have to throw away your resume and start from scratch.
Don’t even edit what you’ve got – use a fresh sheet of paper or an empty screen. We’re not modifying here, we’re creating.
So what to create?
Time to get small
To start, you’ll need to make an exhaustive list of everything you do at work. Not a re-write of your job description (those are never very helpful to begin with), but a complete rundown of what you do.
This is going to take more time than you think.
Don’t just write down “plan projects” or “develop presentations.”
What are all of the deliverables involved? Any hurdles you need to navigate?
Think of every single step you need to perform in order to accomplish every single deliverable. From creating a document to talking to team members; from running a whiteboard session to paying an invoice.
Back to the resume
So why do we go to this extreme?
Because if we want to truly transform our past experience (without going back in time), we have to break it down into its most basic elements.
When a chef wants to develop a new pasta sauce, he doesn’t buy a brand name can off the grocery shelf and add to it. He starts with tomatoes, then arranges all of the herbs, spices, and vegetables in front of him. He picks and chooses what to add and when, and if it’s not working then he knows which ingredient is the problem.
Simple additions to your old resume will “taste” wrong. But if you start with the ingredients of your experience, then you’ll be able to transform them into something completely new.
Know your job, know your tasks – and then figure out what you can do with them.
When was the last time you really started over with your resume? How did it go? Tell us in the comments!