UPDATED ON 4/13/2022
Even when you have a history of jobs that don’t seem related to each other, they are still related.
When I was five, I had those coloring-books with numbered dots and the objective was to connect the dots in numerical order.
As we grow older and wiser (well, hopefully, not too wise), we begin to search more intently for the answer to, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”
For some of us, we know what we want to be from birth.
Others need a little more time.
Best selling author Elizabeth Gilbert calls the two groups the jackhammers and the hummingbirds, respectively.
Once we reach high-school and are permitted to work for money, we accept any job that comes our way, especially when there are financial obligations. These jobs might come from an extremely diverse number of industries. This diversity may create a drastically choppy storyline for our careers.
McDonald’s cashier at one point. Security guard the next. Then call center rep before finally figuring out what to do for an actual career. Data analyst!
But how the heck do we connect these early jobs into a more linear story so that the recruiters and hiring managers remain glued to us?
Gilbert defines hummingbirds as people who follow their curiosity. It’s their curiosity that leads them to their lives’ passions.
As such, we hummingbirds, may not know our final destination, but a lot of times, something shiny and new catches our eye. It catches our curiosity.
That is our next destination.
Just like the numbered dots in a coloring book, we have to find the next number to draw a line to before we see the figure that emerges.
Curiosity allows us to explore, but it does not mean to explore aimlessly. It means being focused in that curiosity.
Identifying the valuable skills and characteristics about ourselves we learned throughout the process can help us target places where we can do our best work.
It’s this focus that gives us the qualifications necessary to become accepted and permitted to explore.
Say you saw a position for a marketing manager. It sparks your interest and curiosity even though you have never done marketing before.
But you read the job description in its entirety and know in your heart that you can do the job.
Well, it’s not enough to just “know in your heart”. You must show the recruiters that you fit the job based on your work history.
Fortunately, if you read the job description thoroughly, you can determine which of your past accomplishments would be great assets to the marketing manager position.
That’s how you connect the dots.
What? You’re already doing this? You’re still wracking your brain over what accomplishments to include to connect the dots?
Well, this distinction will help.
Projects vs. Operations
The general advice out there is to write accomplishments on our resumes, especially those with results.
So we search in our work history — sometimes for a needle in a haystack — for something with results.
Nonetheless, a lot of our time in the office is spent working on tasks that do not necessarily produce results but are required to keep the business alive.
What many of us do not realize is that this is not a bad thing.
It is often beneficial to categorize an accomplishment as either project-based or operations-based.
What’s the difference?
By definition, a project has a beginning, middle, and end. This frequently generate obvious results and, thus, make accomplishments easier to write.
An operation is any ongoing task that is required to run a process. It often does not show any conspicuous results like projects do, but there are ways to scale these tasks to emphasize speed and capacity, as I have described in my article about adding numbers.
Once we have identified our accomplishments and categorized them as either project-based or operations-based, then we can determine which are more relevant to our target position.
For example, if you want to apply to the marketing manager position, you will probably want to lean more toward project-based accomplishments because marketing often involves projects.
If, on the other hand, you want to apply to a paralegal position, operations-based accomplishments would be more appropriate. In this case, it’s about showing how well you can handle your work.
That said, there will be some accomplishments that would benefit either case, and we as individuals will have to decide for ourselves what we want to promote.
This is the groundwork in streamlining our diverse history and creating our story.
This is Part 1. In Part 2 of “Enlighten Hiring Managers by Connecting the Dots On Your Resume”, I will showcase a number of practices that we have all encountered in our workplaces that can be used to create connections and should prompt ideas.