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Resumes and job hunting go hand in hand, it has been that way for years. However, when it comes to having a career (not just a job) it may be time for you to cast your resume in a supporting role and leave the lead to your own storytelling skills.

See, a good resume is like a valid driver’s license. It proves that you are legit.  It signals to a potential employer whether or not you have the type of education and work credentials to be considered for an employment opportunity. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. And just like a driver’s license doesn’t reveal whether or not you drive like a bat of out hell, a well-crafted resume doesn’t reveal whether or not you’re a rock star.

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Sure, your resume should be an indicator of performance but it cannot (and arguably, should not) include a headline that reads “I’m a BEAST at this game. I love it and my passion for it cannot be matched!” Your professional references can provide this subtext to your resume but that’s just it–it’s the subtext left for someone else to tell.  Why give your resume and references all of the power in defining your professional prowess? Breathe life into your work experiences and career goals and take the opportunity to craft your own career story. It may take some time for all of the pieces of your story to come together but here are few things to consider along the way:

  1. Your story arc: All great stories have a beginning, a middle and an end with a few captivating moments along the way. Your career is far from having an end but be sure you are able to capture in compelling terms how you got started and your journey thus far.  Note all of the exciting twists and turns and when you arrive at your current chapter give the listener a peek at what’s next. Create your own cliffhanger.
  2. You, the brand: The most desired brands in the world all have something in common: they know who they are and who they are not. Think of yourself in this way. Get real honest and clear about who you are and what you stand for. Look for opportunities to associate yourself with other “brands” (people, places, events, organizations) that have similar values and shared interests. Invest in the development of your personal brand and let it be your compass toward career opportunities that align with your life’s goals, dreams and aspirations.
  3.  What you’re good at and why: I am always amazed at women who can confidently fill in the blanks of this sentence: I’m really good at _______ because _______. It is not easy but worth the exercise. Once you’ve filled in the blanks, begin to practice saying it. This is an important part of your career story because it illustrates your ability to synthesize your work experiences into a key insight about you.  To be clear, this is not about ego, it is about self-awareness and self-assurance – two things every woman should know how to wear well.
  4. Your answer to these questions: What you do? How you do it? How you add value? Hint: The answer to each of these questions is not on your resume. Remember, your resume is a list of your experiences.Knowing the answer to these questions brings those experiences to life in a clear, concise fashion. You never know when the head of one of the firms on your short list will step onto your elevator and strike up a conversation.  Always be prepared.
  5. Life, get one! Real talk, ladies, what makes the best career stories so fascinating is how they intertwine with the rest of your life’s story.  Maybe your career story is largely your life’s story – and if so, congrats!  You’ve arrived at the place where many of us strive to be. My point here is to be well-rounded. Be fun. Be interesting. Be ‘into’ something. Have a “thing” and be about it, talk about it!

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Speaking of talking about it, don’t let your career story be the greatest story never told. Be smart about leveraging social media, blogs, panel/speaker opportunities, and event attendance to tell your story.  You are not always walking around with your resume in hand but if you have your career story ready to share – and share it often – you’ll find uploading your resume will quickly become a thing of the past.


Sanya Richards-Ross, “I Do Want To Be The Woman Who Has It All”

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