DISCLAIMER: IF YOU ARE SATISFIED WITH YOUR CAREER, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER
How many times have you edited your resume in the last six months? How many times have you updated your LinkedIn profile? If you’re a creative professional, freelance writer/editor, or have been laid off or lost your job, there’s a good chance you revisit your profiles and resume on a daily or at least weekly basis. Perhaps you’re not satisfied with your current situation and want a change of scenery. Or there’s the chance that you just had a different plan for your life.
Whatever the reason for your insatiable need to view and revise your resume and social network profiles, you just might be doing it wrong.
We think we are controlling our paths, all the while actually being controlled by our paths.
Take control of your life and career. Instead of fumbling through the year frantically searching for a job listing that includes one of your five search terms within a 50 mile radius, flip the tables on your path. Don’t think for another second that you need to revise your resume to fit a job description. Create a job description that fits your resume, and then go find that job. Regain your freedom and chase your dream. Take back control.
You’re in a foot race as one of two people–one with a map to the finish line, and one without. Without direction, there’s no telling where you will wind up in twenty years. With the right direction and determination, you can finish the race first, the fastest, and the happiest. Here’s how to make your own map:
1. Sit down and make an inspiration board (my wife did a great example at that link). This can be anything. Grab some cardboard, scissors, glue. Find a stack of magazines and start clipping. Find things that inspire, describe, or interest you. Words, pictures, and phrases. Glue them down. Proceed to Step 2.
2. Next, grab a sheet (or sheets) of paper and a pen. Sit down in a quiet space, just you and your inspiration board. Then, write the resume that you would like to see in 10 years. Don’t be shy; put your dream job on the paper. Work from the top down, listing where you eventually want to wind up, then working backward on how you’ll get there. Don’t think that you need a resume that is vertical (all your jobs in the same industry) or horizontal (doing the same job in different industries). There is no rule that says your resume has to show continuity from job to job. What matters most? Accomplishments and innovation.
3. Make it come true. View every new connection as an opportunity, every networking possibility as a requirement. Every opportunity that comes your way, regardless of how remote a possibility, could be the next stepping stone to the top of your resume. Take advantage of your current position and maximize the resources you have available, including people, training, networking, and more. If you know where the finish line is, you can get there more quickly.
In today’s economy the security of a career is virtually non-existent. I’ve found that younger people and people vying for jobs in certain industries are more likely to leave a secure job to take another position that might be more challenging or personally satisfying. The people that will succeed are those that are jumping ahead of the curve and beating the job place to the punch. Don’t wait for the job to come to you. Find the job. Make the job. Negotiate for the job.
By writing a resume that includes your dream jobs, accomplishments, and accolades, you have a reference point to focus on when things get blurry or you face a decision that might present logistical issues. Having a reference point that you can fall back on helps you make that decision. It keeps things in perspective, and helps you stay on track. Your track to the finish line.
After you’ve created your final resume, take out your current resume and see how it lines up. You may need to start making adjustments and plans to get to the next step, but at least you’ll be headed the right direction. Then cross-reference your current resume against your new dream resume on a yearly basis and check your progress. Are the accomplishments there? How about the skills and qualifications for your next step? Even if you’re not in your dream job right now, you can work on the qualifications that will get you there. Review and revise your future resume once or twice a year to align it with your updated dreams and goals.
I’d love to hear your stories of landing your dream jobs down the road!