Day 57: Problem Solving Resume Writing

Resume writing is the pits. I jokingly posted on Facebook the other day, “Resumes are the worst. Fourteen years in a job and I’m like, I dunno, did I work? Were there achievements? What is job?”

Very few people realized my intent was only to be funny, and lots of advice was provided. It made me realize how universally challenging resume writing is, and how different each person’s challenges are.

As an example, I learned my mother’s primary challenge is speaking highly of herself. She was raised to be very modest, and that’s the opposite of how one should be when crafting a resume. That’s her primary challenge.

Conversely, my primary challenge when resume writing is figuring out what the hell I did at my job that was at all interesting or different than the list of tasks anyone in that role would be obligated to complete.

Writer’s block had hit me hard on Monday and Tuesday for this reason, and it was the motivation behind my silly Facebook post. Instead of continuing to feel hopelessly frustrated, though, I came up with a brilliant solution. I knew who to ask for help, and simultaneously, I realized I had help I could provide. Because, I was fairly sure, my boss was likely to be struggling with the same resume writing challenges I was facing.

My boss was laid off at the same time I was, and I realized I didn’t have to muddle through on my own. I could ask him what he saw as my unique contributions to the role. Simultaneously, I could probably help him do the same.

Thankfully, he agreed and was amenable to trying out this collaboration. Thus, yesterday, my boss and I spent several hours huddled together in a coffee shop working on our resumes. Or, more accurately, we worked on each other’s resumes.

Here’s what we did:

  1. We each made a list of the other person’s skills. What it was about them as a person that made them better at their job than most. We each came up with about 10 items for one another.
  2. For each skill, we provided a specific example illustrating a time when that skill was utilized.
  3. Finally, for each example, we stated the positive outcome and benefit to the company of that incident.

We both wound up finding the exercise extremely useful. He pointed out things I can use on my resume that I never would have thought of on my own, and I was able to do the same for him.

He hadn’t thought about the fact that his skill in allowing and encouraging his employees to develop their skills had not only resulted in an extremely low turnover rate, but also meant each person was able to wear several hats.

This led to us being able to lower our budgets for many projects; our need to bring on additional resources decreased. It was very cool to be able to point this out to him, and it wasn’t something I would have thought he didn’t recognize the value of.

It’s hard to be objective about your own skill set and potential benefit to a new employer. Having others around who can offer assistance and remind you of your strengths is a godsend.

Neither of us had any difficulty completing the resume writing exercise for the other. When we’d each tried to do it for ourselves, though, we’d become frustrated and blocked.

Finishing up my resume after reviewing the list from my boss was a piece of cake. Getting in touch with him to collaborate on resume writing was absolutely a brilliant idea. I’m more proud of myself than I’ve been in ages. What a tremendous accomplishment to add to my daily achievements posts!

Should you ever wind up in a situation where you are let go at the same time as coworkers you like and respect, I highly recommend getting together and pairing off for a resume writing brainstorming session like this one. It makes a horrible task so much more pleasant, and far easier to complete.

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