The Résumé Files: To plan or to plunge

“The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are going.” Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. 

When you think about your life, which seems more true for you? Do you like to plan out the details of life, or do you prefer to  plunge straight in and figure it out as you go?

I belong to the latter tribe. It’s not that I can’t make and keep plans. But, I have trouble committing to a detailed road map, particularly where the larger details are concerned. While other folks like to have their path firmly planned, I prefer to meander down the road of life and see where I end up.

This also applies to my career, and my résumé shows as much. It documents the eclectic mix of experiences – from cops and court reporter to children’s librarian – that make up my job history. Add to that my volunteer experience, which includes everything from writing biographies to co-founding a community theater group, and you’ve got one heck of a fruit salad.

Résumé writing can be tricky for those who prefer to plunge rather than plan. A résumé is a narrative document, after all, that tells the story of you and your career path. How do you tell your story in a cohesive way when, for example, your past jobs include working in a veterinary clinic, teaching in a preschool classroom, and pouring concrete? How do you make a compelling, integrated story out of that?

It’s easy: You find the theme. All good stories have one, and yours is no exception.

In my case, I realized all my career choices from college onward were, to some degree, motivated by desire to be an educator. I studied to be an English teacher because I wanted to share literature with high school students. When I discovered that teaching in a conventional classroom wasn’t my cup of tea, I switched to journalism, where I was responsible for educating an entire community about critical issues. Later, I took a job as a librarian, where I taught parents and caregivers how to help their children develop pre-reading skills.

For years, I struggled to define myself in the context of my career choices. Who was I? What was I doing with my life, anyhow? It wasn’t until I rewrote my résumé that I discovered the common thread woven throughout my job history. Turns out, my life’s theme had been there all along.

Your turn

What’s your theme? What passions, values, or interests have guided your career choices? Give me a shout out in the comments section.

Photo credit: Pixabay, CC0.




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