Accomplishments Never Found on a Resume


A question I always pose when teaching a resume writing class is, “What accomplishment makes you most proud”?  Since I never indicate that the accomplishment should align with professional experience, I am not surprised with the response to the question.  In fact, I can almost anticipate what everyone will say.  Without hesitation, many relate a sense of pride with raising their children, marrying their spouse, or being a cancer survivor.  I can’t ever recall hearing, well maybe once, anyone boast of meeting their annual sales goals, bringing in additional revenue for a company, or knocking their competition out of the water.  Interesting, what brings joy, satisfaction, and happiness in life is not what appears on a resume. 

Recalling one of my proudest accomplishments is when I helped an employee I managed leave her job and pursue a nursing career.  Beth was an excellent employee and an aspiring leader.  While I could have very well spent my time grooming her for a management position in the company, during a performance evaluation meeting she shared her vision of becoming a nurse.  It was a dream she had to put on hold indefinitely until she could find the time to return to school, focus on studying, and afford to pay for her education.  A vision, regardless of how grand is an internal guide to your calling and a voice that can only be silenced temporarily.   I am not sure who was more excited about the vision, me or Beth? Needless to say, I worked with Beth to find the right school, the right financing, grants, and scholarships and I provided a flexible schedule for her to accommodate the varied school hours as she worked to earn an Associate degree and then her Bachelor degree.  With the right support and determination, Beth changed her vision to reality and is now doing her life’s work as a nurse.  Of course, I could never share this accomplishment on a resume, cover letter, or interview, even though I get excited every time I describe my experience.  It is a great story of how I helped a star employee exit the company.  Not a good way to make an impression on a potential employer. 

Like me, you certainly will never showcase your proudest moments under the heading of Accomplishments on your resume whether it is raising your children or surviving cancer because your personal life and professional life are two completely different roles.  Besides, you can’t even talk about your personal life to a potential employer.  Yet, it is those proudest accomplishments that reveal your purpose, your passion, and your life’s work.  Those moments energize, excite, and motivate you over and over again and when examined closely have the ability to blend your personal and professional role into a life work role. 

So take a moment to consider if the work that you are doing right now in your professional role stirs the same feelings?   If not, perhaps it is time to revisit your proudest accomplishments and uncover the hidden gems of your life work and listen to the sound of your vision.   


The Value in a Value-driven Resume

Value car

 Writing a resume can be a tedious, almost painful task as you decide how much or how little to share with a potential employer. Developing a resume becomes even more challenging if you are transitioning to a new career and need to demonstrate how your past experience aligns perfectly with the job description, even if the comparison might be a stretch of the imagination.

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Three Important New Year Resolution Questions

IMG_20150101_102120Once again, it is time to resolve to do more of something, less of something, or break away from something.  More than likely, your intent is to change and a new year gives you an opportunity to have a fresh start.  As with every New Year, you know this will finally be the one to change old habits and create a better life.  Of course, the problem is every January 1st seems to begin exactly like the year before with hope, excitement, apprehension, and forward thinking.  Continue reading

Einstein Had it All Wrong

Like millions of people all over the world, I was glued to the TV last Novesquirell with textmber watching Nik Wallenda break two Guinness World Records with his daring Skyscraper walks.  If his first attempt was not amazing enough when he walked across the Chicago River at an elevation of 588 feet and rising, he ramped up the challenge with his next attempt.  To add even more excitement, he ventured out on the tightrope blindfold.  The crowd below was cheering so loud when he reached the end of the rope, it was deafening.  Of course, watching the record breaking feat from my living room, I was in awe at his precision, focus of attention, and Wallenda’s confident ability to perform such a daring feat without a flaw.  Everyone was in disbelief at what one individual had accomplished and as Wallenda was basking in the glow of victory, hugging his wife and children, Twitter was a hotbed of activity.  With all the tweets flooding the media, one tweet struck me immediately Continue reading

Pitch the Elevator Speech for Something Better

9356478507_907e1a3fa2_nNetworking, everyone is doing it.  Networking can either be exhilarating because you have an opportunity to meet new people or networking can be a drudgery that saps your energy and leaves you ready to run for the door.  At one time, early in my career, the thought of entering a room full of strangers sent chills down my spine.  Wherever I went, I wanted a friend, colleague, or even a slight acquaintance to accompany me so that I didn’t have to face meeting new people alone.  Later, as I advanced in my career, the fear of strangers dissipated, and I truly enjoyed the networking scene.  Now, I look for every opportunity to attend events, workshops, and any place I can connect with people.  But the fact that I am introvert, beginning a conversation with a total stranger, does not come easy.  The words do not just blurt out, I am not in the center of a crowd, or telling jokes and making everyone around me weep with laughter.  Instead, I am the person who will start a conversation about the weather, a safe, non-invasive topic that will certainly solicit some feedback and if I happen to stumble upon an extrovert, my job of talking is just about done, except for responding to the classic network question, “And what do you do?”  If you listen closely, the question seems to echo in the room and the responses are typically related to jobs, positions, and company.  After hearing this question over and over again, I couldn’t help but reflect on a much more profound question, is what you do and who you are the same?  Are you doing work that is aligned with your strengths and provides meaning and purpose to your life?  In other words, is what you tell people a reflection of your true self?  Quite possibly, what you do may be in contrast to who you are.

The Typical Approach

In reality, the question, “and what do you do?” is more than a simple inquiry of introduction.  What you do demands a declaration of your job, your role, and your place of importance in a company. It’s all fine and dandy and an easy question to answer when you are doing work you enjoy and work that provides satisfaction.   But suppose, you are stuck in a career that no longer excites you, let go from a job that you devoted most of your life, or trapped in the “I don’t know what I want to do” syndrome, your perception of the question changes from an introduction to what do I say and how can I sell myself when I am not sure what I do, let alone who I am?

More than likely, you have prepared a well, crafted elevator speech that contains as many adjectives as you could muster into 30 seconds and hopefully, you have memorized every line so that your words flow.  There you said it– but you feel as if you are describing someone else, not you.  You are no longer the person doing the job that once defined you and at this point, you are feeling a level of discomfort.

However, the problem with the question, “and what do you do” is that you have been conditioned to respond with who you are at work instead of who you are as person. Because you have spent much of your career as the person doing the job, once disconnected from the job, physically or mentally, who you are and what you do is not easy to recognize and your confidence in describing you as a person, not in a role, is shaky.

A Better Approach

With this in mind, a better approach to responding to the “and what do you do” question is to pitch the elevator speech and replace with a purpose statement because who you are and how you make a difference in the world is perpetual and does not change, unlike a job. A purpose statement is not about your job or your position in a company.  Instead a purpose statement is about you, your work not employment, and what gives your life meaning.  You are a person of character, value, and strengths regardless of your role.

Of course, crafting a purpose statement requires some time and dedicated work as you reflect on your life, push aside outdated beliefs about yourself, and envision your ideal life.  The outcome of developing a purpose statement is worth the time and effort because you understand yourself on a deeper level, truly know your strengths, and tap into the core of what excites and energizes you. Suddenly the question, “And what do you do” takes on a new meaning because your response is not about who you are on the job.  Your response is about your purpose, your calling, and your work and what you do is truly who you are.