UPDATED ON 5/2/2022
You have experience in every job on the planet, but to show that those jobs are, in fact, related, showcase these universal skills.
In Part 1 of “Enlighten Hiring Managers by Connecting the Dots On Your Resume”, I laid the groundwork needed to find relationships among past positions that seem to have no relationship at all.
But we need more than knowing our destination or categorizing jobs as projects or operations to extract stories for our careers. The aspects of our jobs that make those streamlining relationships are actually often missed.
Reminisce and scrutinize your professional life. I am 100% certain that you have encountered at least one of the following in your career. Because of that, these are the most useful practices to shape your story.
The People Factor
When we try to connect our diverse past, we often get stuck on the technical piece.
- How did being a fast food cashier help me in IT support?
- What does being a security guard have anything to do with my dream of becoming a marketing manager?
- How does screenwriting help me in data science?
However, if we remove the technicalities and think about what we truly learned from our first jobs, it always involves skills that can be applied to any job no matter where we go.
These are the soft skills. The people skills.
Think about that job you did as a kid for your neighbor, at the mall, or at the restaurant. Perhaps you mowed the lawn, served ice cream, or folded clothes.
The one thing all three of these have that is critical for any higher-level positions is customer.
Customer service or relationship management is one of the earliest significant skills we acquire once we step foot into the workforce.
Grocery stockers deal with customers. Business consultants deal with customers. CEOs deal with customers.
Everyone deals with customers because everyone — internal or external — is a customer!
We constantly fulfill customer needs, resolve customer complaints, or establish customer loyalty throughout our careers. When we look internally, this balloons to practicing teamwork, leading upper management, or negotiating with other departments among others.
Companies hire people to solve problems.
So what problems did you solve in your past?
Is there a common thread among all those problems or all your solutions?
See whether you can identify a pattern in the kind of problems you usually eliminate despite your assorted past.
Perhaps you have a knack for putting a smile on children’s faces. Or you find people coming to you because you can explain anything in layman’s terms. Or you excel at improvising when resources are scarce.
The more you are able to articulate your underlying strengths that solved your companies’ problems, the better you can use those strengths to connect your story.
Project Management 101
If you are thinking, “Yes, I did learn a whole lot about dealing with all kinds of people, but I really wish I could include something that is a bit more technical and specific.”
Well, we can.
Project management is one of the next steps up from customer service, and we do not necessarily need to be in a project to acquire all the different skills required to succeed in it.
Anytime we manage time, cost, resources, communication, and scope, we are actually strengthening our project management techniques.
So think about all those times we arrange schedules with our peers, figure out the best communication medium to use to get our point across, or structure a process. Realize that what we are actually doing are bits and pieces of project management.
In fact, in my one of my early articles i Wrote on Medium.com, I explained how I learned about agile project management from screenwriting.
You never know when you actually prepared yourself for a project role. It could be running expense reports for your manager (aka cost management), coordinating delivery shifts with vendors (aka time management), or taste-testing ice cream (aka quality management).
Just make sure these parts are relevant and beneficial for the job you apply.
This one is a fabulous option.
Crises can happen anywhere, anytime.
And just like how the worst moments make the best comedic punchlines, crises illustrate your professional prowess when everyone else might be running around like chickens without heads.
Maybe the restaurant refrigerator broke or the database got hacked, or a killer virus took over the world.
Employers love people who have the capability to keep their cool, assess the situation thoroughly, and instantly implement feasible solutions during dire times.
These people are scarce and, thus, very marketable.
So think about all those times when you still hit the ground running while pulling your hair out. Those circumstances might be your best assets.
Operational processes can go one of two ways: either develop a process when there isn’t one or improve a process when there is.
Each requires a different set of skills.
Let’s start with the first situation first, developing a new process.
The company needs to launch a new product, a new service, or a new tool. It could even be a new problem that no one but you identified.
Whatever the case, you took initiative to design a new process that supported this product, service, or tool.
This demonstrates your ability to identify problems, contribute independently, and lead teams in order to invent something from scratch.
Then there’s the other aspect of operations: process improvement.
Companies always want to improve their processes no matter how advanced they may be.
Anytime we reduce the number of steps or eliminate waste is an accomplishment worth celebrating because it means savings in money, time, and resources.
Improving any process promotes a slightly different set of abilities: your assertiveness to challenge the status quo, your attention to detail in finding opportunities of growth, and your creativity in reshaping work.
The Final Connection
In the end of this two part series, it’s all about knowing yourself.
Because if nothing else, the one common denominator is you.
Your strengths. Your values. Your passions.
Jot those down if you must.
Then remember where you came from and where you want to go next. Look at all of your positions and recall how your strengths, values, and passions has shown up for you and your former employers. See whether you excel at projects or operations. From there, elaborate to recruiters and hiring managers how those strengths, values, and passions would enhance their work and their company’s objective.
And soon enough, all your dots will be connected…showing a phoenix.
Do you need help connect the jots in your story? Let me know.