A Resume Built On Life Experiences

He was barely out of high school, she was a stay at home Mom who hadn’t worked outside of the home in more than twenty-five years, each needed a resume. The problem was they both didn’t feel that they had anything to write about. He shared “I have no work experience” and she said, “The last time I worked I was a waitress and that was a long time ago.” So begins the resume built on life experiences.

If careers are the sum total of your life experiences then the resume is just the written version of that story. However, most would agree that generating a picture of your life experiences, for a resume or cover letter, can be a daunting process. Especially, if you don’t know what to leave in or leave out or what questions to ask. However, there are great tips and tricks that can help you create a resume that best reflects your skills and accomplishments.

First thing you want to do is start a list that includes:

* Previous employment – No matter how far back it goes just write it down. You may or may not reference it in a resume but the skills are potentially notable and transferable.

* Volunteer experience – Paid or unpaid, all work counts.

* Recreational activities – What do you do for fun?

* Academic background – List formal education. Also, add learning that took place outside of a formal educational environment. Include: continuing education, self study, online courses, tele-seminars, company specific professional development.

* Turning points – Reflect on turning points in your life and note examples.

* Accomplishments and Goals – List past accomplishments and future goals.

Once you have finished going over your list, pass it along to someone else you trust  and see if they have anything to add. Often we forget or don’t recognize all the things we have done and having an extra set of eyes on our experience often yields more information to add to our work and skill search.

With each of the above lists you can pull out even more valuable insights. Take yourself through an experience, job or day and ask yourself:

* What did I do?

* What did I learn from that experience, course or job?

* What did I enjoy and why?

* What did I dislike and why?

* What did I accomplish and how?

* What new tools or equipment did I use?

* What positive feedback or awards did I receive from others?

Armed with all of this you can now begin the process of resume development. Of course, you may need some assistance in understanding the structure and type of resume that will work best for you but there are plenty of resources within your community and through private coaching, books and online sources. (Be aware: some sources, in particular online may be out of date or not relevant to your geographical area or field) Seeking advice is highly recommended.

For our young worker and stay at home Mom it became abundantly clear that by answering these questions there was a lot of marketable skills to promote, new references to add and an idea of where to target their resumes. The confidence they gained was evident with each new piece. They saw just how much they have contributed on a daily basis, how much value they had to offer, they could see what makes them unique. Best of all, they now had the language to describe how others may benefit from their experience.

Here is an excerpt from a card I received that was entitled “Thankful Me…”

“Thank you for a learning experience I will keep forever. You helped me change my future and I am truly grateful.” JM

I share JM's words with you so that you see the power and hope that emerges from uncovering your experience and the connection it has to self esteem. It is hard work, I know, but the gains are immense. From a work search perspective your story is what separates you from all other applicants; there is no other like you! Knowing how to incorporate your life experience into a resume, cover letter or interview is one more tool for you to use that will make you stand out of the crowd.


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