Like many people the world over, December 31st found me gathered with friends, enjoying a lovely dinner, a glass or two of wine, and wonderful conversation. As midnight approached, the topic of conversation naturally evolved into a discussion the year that was passing and our hope for the New Year. As I reflected on 2019, I felt an incredible sense of gratitude for those things in my life that are priceless. With so much terrible news of the economy and joblessness bombarding us on a daily basis, I took a deep breath and thanked the Universe for my family, friends, and my home in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. I have been blessed with a pretty decent life.
As my friends and I welcomed 2020 with champagne toasts, each of us shared a resolution. In typical fashion, we talked about our desires to lose weight, stop smoking, and end our procrastination habits. I need to lose a good 20 pounds just so the weight on my driver’s license will once again be accurate. It was not until I had coffee with Jill Clark of Element Life Coaching that I realized my resolution for the New Year completely missed the mark.
As a life coach, Jill Clark helps her clients to live their most authentic lives. That concept found a place of resonation in my own thoughts as I went through the rest of my week. I began asking myself how I could assist my own clients to become more authentically themselves. As a career coach and resume writer, I have the opportunity to work with men and women who are facing a major life transition—a career or job change. My personal reflection this week reminded me of times when I was pursuing major changes in my working life and how much of an impact that had on every other aspect of my life. Our work lives and our personal lives are so closely intertwined that it is impossible to separate the two. In fact, it is absolutely crucial that job seekers consider both personal goals and professional goals side-by-side as they take steps toward a new and exciting career path.
That brings me to resumes. I want to challenge each of you with this question: How well does your current resume reflect your authentic self? It’s an important question, and one that many of us might have to answer with an honest and resounding “Not at all!” In today’s competitive job market, all job seekers are faced with the temptation to rely to heavily on “stock language” in their resumes. As a recruiter, I recall certain phrases and ideas that were always included in the resumes I reviewed. If I had a dollar for every time I read that a candidate had “Excellent Communication Skills and Interpersonal Skills,” I’d now be living somewhere on the French Riviera. We have all been trained to say certain things in our resumes and in job interviews. I still laugh about the candidate who during an interview told me that he was energetic and a real people person. The problem was that he said so in a voice that was so quiet I had to lean forward to hear and with the most deadpan expression on his face. I would have much rather heard from that candidate that he was somewhat reserved but very intuitive. It would have been closer to the truth.
My New Year’s challenge to job seekers is this. Take the time to truly know who you are and allow that to shine through in your resume. Please DO tell us about your exceptional customer service skills, but go deeper. What makes you a customer service superstar? Is it the fact that you are a good listener? Or, maybe you have a way of hearing what a customer doesn’t say. Perhaps you have a calming presence that immediately puts people at ease. Or, maybe you exude energy and enthusiasm. Go beyond the tired, trite, typical language of resume writing.
When I work with career coaching clients, I often encourage them to take a personality survey. My favorite is the Keirsey Temperament Sorter-II, available on line or
through the book, Please Understand Me II. Surveys like this one really give you the opportunity to step back and see a snapshot of your authentic self. They will also give you much of the language that is so important in describing yourself on a resume. And, even better, the surveys may suggest a career path that has gone undiscovered. What could be better than making 2020 the year you land your dream job? Happy New Year!