It's an activity most adults are familiar with: when it's time for a job search and, therefore, time to "get a resume together."
For many, just the thought of it alone produces an "Ugh!" It's like having to construct your life history all at once, all from scratch. It feels like torture!
On top of that, memories are dicey. They are unreliable, which makes them less then ideal companions in the endeavor to present the best of yourself on paper to a prospective employer.
Therefore, this is one of the most important articles you'll ever read addressing effective career management.
Don't Rely on Your Memory; Keep Track as You Go!
Please do not be the person who tries to sell all of their talent through the lens of a single-sheet resume constructed with shoddy memories. Don't let your memory be your only resource! It will not help you represent the best of yourself.
To stop underrepresenting yourself, put these career management tips into practice immediately:
1. Keep Track of Your Job Experience in a Job Journal
Not only will this be extremely beneficial when it's time to write a new resume, but it will also be great for your performance reviews. This is your memory bank – on paper!
2. Try to Quantify What You're Doing
That way, you can express your accomplishments and value at work in the form of hard data, which can be highlighted on your resume.
- "XYZ project was completed three days ahead of time."
- "The successful event was put together for $2,000 under budget."
- "I saved a customer from going to a competitor, which saved us $X dollars."
3. Pay Attention to What You Really Enjoy Doing
When I ask my career coaching clients, "What work activity gives you high levels of satisfaction?", many cannot answer.
It's easiest to identify what satisfies you when you're in the act of doing it. Levels of satisfaction are not necessarily dictated by job title or description, but by job functions.
Ask yourself, "What in my job, do I like doing?" Notice the level of enjoyment or satisfaction you feel when doing some task. Rate it on a scale of 1-5 for future decision-making. Remember: It's not the job description or the job itself that you're rating; it's the individual tasks and activities you engage in at work.
This final tip is one of the most important I can give you. It is the most essential in crafting a meaningful career experience. When I'm career coaching, I ask, "What did you most enjoy doing in previous roles?" Many can't remember or don't recall accurately, particularly when they are trying to recollect from several years prior.
The inability to zero in on what you enjoy will contribute to a pattern of perpetually choosing jobs that you will find unfulfilling. This will keep you locked in an ongoing quest for an ideal job – and it will adversely impact your engagement levels at work.
Though we in HR talk a lot about an employer's responsibility to help employees stay engaged, this is a two-way street. We each play a part, yet I do believe it ultimately rests with the employee. Your engagement is substantially influenced by your level of work satisfaction. That choice is yours.
As you can gather, these critical tips are not one-time activities. They are ongoing practices. In fact, they're so important they should be considered career management habits, not tips!
So, are you in the habit of:
tracking your experience;
paying attention to what truly brings you enjoyment;
and quantifying your contributions and value?
These habits are essential elements of career success. They are the best career management tips you'll ever get – so be sure to follow them!
JoAnn Corley is CEO of The Human Sphere.