Updating your resume? First run this Career Diagnostic.

It starts with knowing who you are.

In our last post, we provided some coaching around upgrading your resume including tips for both content and formatting. Some resumes just jump out based on the individual’s pedigree. By this I am referring to the academic credentials, the quality of employers, the rapid progression, the tenure in positions, the awards and honors. That may describe 1% of talent pool or less. Let’s assume your resume will not jump out and grab the recruiter, hiring authority or a colleague in your network from whom you are enlisting help in getting introductions. Even if it does, there is so much more that you will want to convey to the gatekeeper of your next career move than what is contained in your resume.
Everyone fuels the trajectory of their career differently, but everybody does it with the net energy of their assets and liabilities. Even to the point of knowing that your personality, your emotional composition, can be an asset in one company, yet a liability in another. Go into a search knowing who you are, and be prepared to reveal it.
Provide candidate employers insights into your super powers: what you love to do, how you assimilate new circumstances and even show your passion. Reveal some of the things that may be the bane of your existence or your short suits. Compose a “wrapper” around your resume to give your facts dimension, context and life! Pinpoint what you’re looking for in your next move, in concise language for a cover email or ready talking points. Your resume is a catalog of challenges you’ve taken on and actions you took to meet them. That’s a necessary compendium, but it’s not the resume getting hired. The hire is you! Make your total narrative the “hologram” of you that compels a CEO to meet the flesh-and-blood you.
Most people I meet look back at the arc of their career thus far as something that happened to them. That’s not who you want to be! To not be the candidate of “What Happened” requires that you actually take some control over your career and your life.
As a career headhunter, I interview candidates to understand how they have made career decisions and selections. I’m amazed when I ask WHY they were attracted to, or made the decision to join, a particular company I hear replies like, “my old boss recruited me, a colleague felt I’d be a good fit or it cut my commute in half.” In some cases, there were multiple short stints with really sketchy companies (what we refer to as skid marks) on the resume. It’s startling how little introspection or due diligence many individuals put in before taking an offer of employment. It’s as though they spent more time on their last large appliance purchase than on the place they will invest the next chunk of their lives.
Again, winning an interview and then a position from how real you make yourself on the flat sheet of your resume starts with you knowing you. So here’s some help.
When we first meet you, in addition to reviewing your resume we always ask you to go through a quick assessment that we call the Career Diagnostic. It forces you to ask yourself what you want out of your next career move and spotlights what’s likely to satisfy you next.
As pertains to what you are looking for in your next career move, please provide answers to the following questions so that we can best match you up with our clients and screen the opportunities that come our way against your profile.

  • What are the ROLES (range of titles) that you are both qualified for and interested in holding next?
  • What are you really great at? What is your SUPER POWER?
  • What type of work or functional responsibility do you HATE TO DO?
  • What is your “Achilles Heel”–your weaknesses or areas prime for FUTURE DEVELOPMENT
  • SECTOR(S)? (please provide the specific industry categories/markets where your experience and passions lie)
  • STAGE? (Jungle, Dirt Road, Pavement or Freeway – indicate the ideal stage in terms of revenue, # employees, customers or other key metric)
  • TIME OF LIFE? (Where you are in life is an important priority in making a career match…)
  • Geography? (Scope of a potential commute from home? will you relo? To where?)
  • Family/Kids/Parents? (obligations on your time so we can map to the work culture of clients)
  • Appetite for/Aversion to risk? (Would you trade some current cash comp for equity upside?)
  • Travel? (What % can you travel?)
  • PASSION? (What personal/professional interests would you like to make a part of your work life?)
  • PATTERN MATCHING? (Please let us know what companies or positions you have been exposed to that were of great interest to you so that we can use those as examples of good matches)
  • COMPENSATION? (please explain your current comp package including
  • Base salary:
  • On-target incentive Bonus (cash):
  • Stock/equity:
  • Last 2 year’s W-2 earnings (excluding the sale of stock):
  • FUSE? (Where are you in your search? Are you just getting started? In play on multiple opportunities? Expecting offers? )

Run the career diagnostic on yourself and keep it as (bulleted) content that you can include selectively and as appropriate in a cover e-mail, or use it as part of your interactions with recruiters, HR folks, your career gatekeepers and of course hiring authorities.
In addition, prepare a document which might contain:

  • Links to writing samples (White paper, blog post, killer Quora answer)
  • Video interview
  • Code contributions or the equivalent
  • Results to your DISC test (excerpted of course)

Keep this content in a DropBox folder up to date so that you can share links or attach in an e-mail as you get into the dialog. Now that you know yourself, put that insight to work so you burst off the page as the engaging, problem-solving, catalytic, imaginative leader you’re confident people will see if only they will meet you.
Lastly, one of the things that we look for before we send any candidate out on an interview is the “why” behind their decision to explore leaving their current employer. Of course the long-held taboos about not talking negatively of current or previous employers still applies, but you can reveal your career wound while still taking the high road. Don’t be afraid to share what may be missing in your current situation. Is the commute killing you? Is the company about to be sold? Are you not being challenged technically, creatively or intellectually? You feel you are way under market on compensation?
The moment you start working for an employer, you are the beneficiary – and likely also victim – of a blend of events that you make happen and that happen to you. The one moment you absolutely control is your decision to join. Too many professionals let their career happen to them, with only occasional attention paid to shaping the arc of it. Every time you put yourself on the market, you have an opportunity to shape your trajectory. At the same time, you are both enabled and constrained by the assets and liabilities of your history and reputation. Nobody is perfect, and everyone has special advantages. The career diagnostic forces you to campaign for the next role that will shape your vocational arc, equipped to sell your strengths while being self-aware enough to humanize your weaknesses. It’s up to you to send your career arc soaring and ensure you finish it doing only what you love.