Setting your sights
Great resumes have a clear and distinct theme. Every detail included in the resume supports that theme and reinforces its impact on the reader. This theme is your objective; it has two elements:
- The attributes and circumstances you want in your next job
- A clear and positive relationship to your career and its advancement
Determining your objective requires that you know what professional interests you have and what potential positions may allow you to express those interests. In addition, you need a realistic sense of your current skill level and expertise in your chosen field. You then can figure the level and scope of position for which you are competitive. Achieving such understanding involves both introspection and research. You must know yourself and the workplace and continually update that knowledge as you grow and develop and the workplace changes.
Taking stock of your interests and making sure that they are aligned with your work is necessary whether you're a first- time job seeker, a seasoned worker at mid-career, or a highly paid expert in your field. To help you with the process of self- exploration, use one or both of the following exercises.
Imagine that you won a huge jackpot in the lottery. Suddenly, finances are no longer an issue. The mortgage is paid, money is put away for the kids' educations, and your retirement program is generously funded. Now, you can do whatever you want to do with your life's work. What would that be? What activity would get you up in the morning and give you the most satisfaction at the end of the day? Describe it in a few lines - either on paper or in an electronic document that you can refer to.
You spend much of your life at work. Aside from your family, faith, and friends, your career is probably the most important aspect of your life. If you suddenly learned that you were terminally ill, how would you like to be remembered? What would you be most proud of having accomplished at work? What would give you the greatest satisfaction? Write your thoughts down.
If you're a first-time job seeker, you may have to research which occupations and specific jobs provide the opportunity to express these interests and abilities. If you are a seasoned workplace veteran who is in transition or seeking greater satisfaction in your work, you may need to explore alternative career fields. Whatever your situation, you can find such information at college and university career centers, state employment security offices, public libraries, and on the Internet. For example, America's Job Bank offers a Career InfoNet that can help you identify career paths and opportunities.
If you need help pinpointing your career interests, you can find several assessment exercises available through professional career counselors and centers. These include the following:
- The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
- The Keirsey Temperament Test
- The Self-Directed Search (SDS)
- The Unisex Edition of the ACT Interest Inventory (UNIACT)
- The Vocational Interest Inventory (VII)
- The Career Occupational Preference System Interest Inventory (COPS)