A question I always pose when teaching a resume writing class is, “What accomplishment makes you most proud”? Since I never indicate that the accomplishment should align with professional experience, I am not surprised with the response to the question. In fact, I can almost anticipate what everyone will say. Without hesitation, many relate a sense of pride with raising their children, marrying their spouse, or being a cancer survivor. I can’t ever recall hearing, well maybe once, anyone boast of meeting their annual sales goals, bringing in additional revenue for a company, or knocking their competition out of the water. Interesting, what brings joy, satisfaction, and happiness in life is not what appears on a resume.
Recalling one of my proudest accomplishments is when I helped an employee I managed leave her job and pursue a nursing career. Beth was an excellent employee and an aspiring leader. While I could have very well spent my time grooming her for a management position in the company, during a performance evaluation meeting she shared her vision of becoming a nurse. It was a dream she had to put on hold indefinitely until she could find the time to return to school, focus on studying, and afford to pay for her education. A vision, regardless of how grand is an internal guide to your calling and a voice that can only be silenced temporarily. I am not sure who was more excited about the vision, me or Beth? Needless to say, I worked with Beth to find the right school, the right financing, grants, and scholarships and I provided a flexible schedule for her to accommodate the varied school hours as she worked to earn an Associate degree and then her Bachelor degree. With the right support and determination, Beth changed her vision to reality and is now doing her life’s work as a nurse. Of course, I could never share this accomplishment on a resume, cover letter, or interview, even though I get excited every time I describe my experience. It is a great story of how I helped a star employee exit the company. Not a good way to make an impression on a potential employer.
Like me, you certainly will never showcase your proudest moments under the heading of Accomplishments on your resume whether it is raising your children or surviving cancer because your personal life and professional life are two completely different roles. Besides, you can’t even talk about your personal life to a potential employer. Yet, it is those proudest accomplishments that reveal your purpose, your passion, and your life’s work. Those moments energize, excite, and motivate you over and over again and when examined closely have the ability to blend your personal and professional role into a life work role.
So take a moment to consider if the work that you are doing right now in your professional role stirs the same feelings? If not, perhaps it is time to revisit your proudest accomplishments and uncover the hidden gems of your life work and listen to the sound of your vision.