Few would deny that self-awareness is critical in optimizing our performance—whether we’re trying to ride a bike or coach a large team to overturn a period of stagnation in business. Endless literature backs up the benefits of pausing, meditating, reflecting, prioritizing, and in general improving our self-awareness. In fact, it is at the heart of everything from executive coaching to mindfulness retreats to your run-of-the-mill self-help books.
What some people might not know is that self-awareness is also at the heart of resume writing. While writing a resume doesn’t normally involve meditation (although it certainly could!), there ought to be some significant introspection happening that involves a profound contemplation of one’s core strengths…as well as one’s weaknesses.
Whether you are writing your resume yourself or working with a professional resume writer, the process should begin with an objective, deep-dive analysis of your career accomplishments, revisiting how you have had a positive impact on the organizations you have worked for in each one of your roles. You should reflect on what you have had to overcome on your professional path to get to where you are today and articulate precisely what differentiates you from your peers. This is the substance that should be mainlined into your career literature.
Equally important to the resume-writing process is an in-depth reflection on the characteristics and skills that are most relevant to the job you are hoping to land. It is this intersection between your experience and skills repertoire and what is demanded in your targeted role that should be heavily featured in your career portfolio. Identifying this overlap requires calm, thoughtful, and careful reflection.
Just as it is critical to be aware of one’s own assets as they relate to the targeted role, one must also be mindful of any weaknesses (or what could be perceived as a weakness in the eyes of a recruiter or employer). Maybe you have a significant employment gap because you took time off to raise a family. Perhaps you are shifting gears and trying to break into a new field and most of your prior experience is irrelevant. Or maybe you’ve worked at eight different companies in just as many years and don’t want to appear as a job hopper. Being aware that these situations may be perceived as weaknesses is the first step in knowing how to effectively remove the spotlight from them on your resume.
When I work with clients in creating their executive portfolios, they often tell me at the end that it is the very process of self-reflection—which is necessary before the writing process can begin—that makes them more in touch with the matrix of value they have to offer an employer. This translates into greater confidence when conducting their search and arms them with the success stories that lead to positive interview outcomes.
So next time you need to update your resume, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think of it as a holistic and highly beneficial journey into your personal and professional past. Don’t dread peeking inside for reflection on what makes you great and fitting for your ideal role and recognizing what could potentially diminish your candidacy…it will make you that much more effective in crafting your career literature, putting you on the path to a more fulfilling career.