“Let’s add a resume as part of your marketing materials, for a successful job search” I often share with my clients. This statement in turn is sometimes followed by a either a groan or a deer caught in the headlights look. Writing a resume often seems to be equated to a very painful experience. Although the primary purpose of a resume is to share skill sets to employers in order to land that elusive interview, I would like to share how writing a resume can be an insightful experience for clients (and counselors) and how a resume can mean much more for clients’ view of self and their strengths.
The art and science of writing a good resume is a much written about topic and with so much information out there about the do’s and don’ts of writing an effective resume, I am not surprised that it can be intimidating for a number of clients to start writing their resume. When clients do not attend their resume appointment, it might be easy to attribute the absence to simply a lack of interest. However, I have learned that their absence usually means there is something deeper bothering them.
Clients have expressed various reasons for their uneasiness towards creating a resume. Some of the reasons include:
•They may fear they don’t have much work experience to fill up a resume.
•They have never had a resume in the past and they have no idea where to start.
•They are concerned they will complete the resume “wrong” and they will receive a lot of negative feedback about their document and worst yet, get no call backs for interviews.
When clients express concerns, fears or doubts about writing a resume, it is helpful for me to talk to them more about what’s at the core of their hesitancy. The methods to addressing these concerns and fears can be another post in itself, but for now, I want to focus on the positive impact having a resume can have on a client when I take a more personal and narrative approach.
One helpful way to approach resume writing is to have clients share when they felt at their best at work. It’s much more constructive for me to ask a client questions such as: “How did you stand out from others when completing that project?” or “What made you be able to solve that problem?” or “Tell me about a time you were proud of the work you did”. This is a very different approach from simply asking clients what they did at work, as this just leads to a listing of job duties and doesn’t give a client the chance to put into words the accomplishments they created.
Using the approach of clients exploring their work stories, resumes become much more lively and unique. When their resume is complete, clients seem to stand up straighter and experience an increase in self-confidence because the resume highlights what makes them valuable workers. In addition, the resume provides them with the vocabulary to use when meeting employers. Instead of being tongue tied when asked to share their background, they now have the language to share their most proud accomplishments.
There is nothing like seeing a client give their resume one final read over, look up at you and smile confidently.
Jackie Torres is a counselor in Colorado with a particular interest in the world of work. She enjoys helping people find what makes them feel strong and energized at work. She is also learning to play the guitar.