Earlier this week, a friend asked me to review her resume. Last year, her company went through several leadership changes, and she didn’t like the new direction. In particular, she saw the culture transforming overnight from a very customer-focused organization with very loyal employees to a company that valued cost reduction as the sole means to survival in a tough economy. Instead of waiting to see if her position would be cut, she asked for a package.
Hence, she asked me to review her resume to see what suggestions I might have. In short, she captured all of the right information for someone in her field. But something wasn’t adding up. So I decided to ask her some basic questions.
“I think you have everything a good resume needs to sell you to a prospective employee. But tell me your 30-second elevator speech. What are you all about?”
“I don’t have a 30-second sales pitch,” she responded immediately.
“Why? I mean, if someone were to call you for an interview, what would you tell them about yourself that’s not in your resume?” I prodded.
“Nothing. See all of that stuff under my experience?” She drew a large circle around the page. “I hate it. I hate all of it. That’s what I’ve done for the last 15 years. And I know that I’m great at it. But I just don’t want to do it anymore.”
The problem wasn’t her resume. While I didn’t say all of this to her in quite this manner, here are some of the problems I could see that she faced:
- she looked for a job in an area where she no longer had passion
- her lack of passion kept her from doing anything more than writing a perfunctory resume…because she was just going through the motions
- she tried to fit a square peg (her skills) into a round hole (a generic job description for a role she didn’t want)
- her lack of self-reflection prevented her from thinking outside-the-box…like into an area where her unique skills and passion would be very desirable to a potential employee
She has no shortage of amazing skills, but she was looking in the wrong place. When Marcus Buckingham worked with Gallup, he coauthored “Now, Discover Your Strengths.” Prior to this research, “positive psychology” went unnoticed in most corporations. Typically, a manager would meet with his employees during each annual review, and he would point out the deficits the employee needed to overcome. The Gallup research pointed out that this notion is silly. Instead of investing time trying improve in the areas in which you struggle, spend more time using your strengths to keep your deficits from defeating your efforts.
I suggested to my friend that she take a different approach.
“Why don’t you spend some time focusing on the parts of a role that you love–helping, teaching, and developing others. And then start your job search from that angle.Your resume and 30-second elevator speech will become a picture of who you really are inside, and it will show a potential employer why they can’t live without you.”
If you’re interested in knowing a little more about yourself, take this short, free assessment. This assessment is based on the time-tested Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and it will give you an option to view roles and jobs that might align well to your unique skills. If you take it, I’d love to hear your type. I’m an INFJ, the rarest of all personality types, and I’d especially like to hear from any fellow-INFJ-ers out there so I’ll feel a little less like “The Last of the Mohicans”…