Once you have a more global view of how you tend to work and see the world, it’s important to get specific about what you are bringing to the table. Rather than approaching this through a resume, I find it more helpful to reflect on questions that will connect the dots beyond what you’ve done in previous jobs, especially if the goal is to make a bigger career shift.
This higher-level process can illuminate some surprising things. Remember to think outside your set of traditional work experience, and include other kinds of work you’ve engaged in – side hustles, early jobs as a teenager, staying home with kids or as a caregiver, volunteer work, community projects, hobbies, and more!
Be generous with yourself: this part of the process focuses on collecting the dots of your strengths and experiences, and later on, you can work to connect these dots. Use the questions that most resonate with you – we are sparking ideas here, not trying to nail down one life purpose (which doesn’t really exist, anyway!).
- What are you known for?
- How do other people describe you, and the role you play on a team?
- What are you great at?
- What’s a time you felt most alive in what you were doing? Describe the details of that experience – what you were doing, why, how you were working, with whom… (Now that you’ve thought of one example – what others come to mind?)
- Where have you felt at your best? (Ideally, where you also felt filled with energy, rather than drained of energy.)
- What value do you know you have to offer?
- What do you feel called, or nudged, to do?
- If you could create your ideal job, what would you be doing? What would your day (or week) look like?
- What have you learned that you want to apply, or work with?
- What are some of the common threads that run through the work (of whatever kind) you’ve done – the skills you’ve built, the places that have been a fit, the problems you’ve solved, the people you’ve engaged…?
These can be some heavy questions, and it may seem counterintuitive to a job search not to jump right to resume updates and applications.
Why is it worth taking the time up-front to build some clarity and certainty about your strengths?
It makes your career change or job search that much more effective and efficient: you will be better able to find roles that match up with how you want to work, and you will be better equipped to communicate clearly in applications and interviews how your strengths will contribute to the goals of the organization.
Plus, you won’t waste your time on opportunities that aren’t actually a match for what you love doing!
Bottom line: This kind of introspection is one of the best ways to set you up as a much stronger candidate, with real clarity on what you want to do.