Career Tip #1: Don’t Sell Yourself Short!

Have you ever downplayed, devalued or ignored something you accomplished because you thought it wasn’t a big deal or because you did it as a volunteer and figured that didn’t count? Think hard before you answer, because I’ve run into a lot of clients who have and so have many of my professional colleagues. That’s why I’m sharing bits of their experience and my own today, to start you thinking about what you might have overlooked in your own career management and job search plan.

Volunteer Activity Can Boost Your Job Search Success

You don’t have to get paid for something you do in order to make it a valuable career boost. Here are three examples from my colleagues:

  • A stay-at-home mother trying to re-enter the workforce: She raised $300,000 for her school by writing a number of small grants to obtain funding from different organizations for the school’s needs. My colleague helped her get an internship as a grant writer that led to a paid grant-writing job.
  • Man transitioning back into the corporate world after running his own business for years: During interview coaching, he happened to mention raising millions of dollars through his local service group to build a library in an African country. He’d never done anything like that before, had never done anything outside the U.S.–and it was a successfully working library. My colleague consulted the LinkedIn profile of the president of the company where the man was interviewing and found that the president was from another foreign country and had built a library there!
  • Pastor’s wife in her early ’60s who hadn’t held a “real job” in decades: She didn’t think she had anything to offer employers that they would consider valuable. My colleague helped her land one of only 13 spots in an advanced counseling program to pursue a career as a counselor, based on a resume that showcased her administrative, communication, planning and other skills gained over those decides of “not working.”

Unofficial Job Activities Matter to Your Job Search

One of my clients years ago was going for a position that would be a step up from his current role (he worked in a manufacturing plant). We had almost finished the resume information-gathering process when something I said apparently sparked a thought in his mind. He said to me, “I was acting as a supervisor for six months between when the old supervisor left and they hired a new one. Is that important?” Well, yes! Even though he hadn’t held the official title of supervisor, he had fulfilled all the responsibilities for several months. I was able to incorporate that into the resume in a way that made him a stronger candidate for the kinds of positions he was going after.

Make Sure Your Value Contributions Work for You

When you work with a professional resume writer, he or she should always be trying to probe for hidden value in your background. That’s why we ask a lot of questions. However, if we don’t happen to word a question just right or don’t say the specific words that trigger something in your memory, we might miss a value point that could make your job search and career management activities much more successful, and that’s what we’re all about. Always ask if you’re not sure something is important, rather than risk our missing it altogether!

It would be great if you always got the title and recognition (and the money!) that clearly announced the value of what you contributed–on the job or off–but the reality is, that doesn’t always happen. However, as the above situations show, you can still “make capital” out of those experiences by legitimately claiming credit for your accomplishments. As I’ve said before, keep track of what you do and what the results of your actions were. You never know when it might come in handy.

P.S. Does your LinkedIn profile sell you short? That matters, too!

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