There is no denying that a checklist provides structure and clarity, and a resume often becomes the embodiment of this list; however, when the checklist becomes the focal point and end game, the cultivation tends to be externally driven and the opportunity to grow from the inside out is lost. Resume building is important, but only so long as the individual is following suit and growing in depth and breadth in collaboration with the checklist.
Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former freshmen dean at Stanford, made this very apt analysis about the cost and underbelly of focusing solely on resume building and not on person building: "Each year my students were more and more and more and more accomplished. The grades, but not just the grades: the scores. And not just the grades and the scores but the awards, and the accolades, and the activities, and community service, and leadership, and, and, and, and, and, every other prospect for perfection. Yet each year I noticed that more and more could tell you what they’d done but not so much why they’d done it. Could tell you what they’d achieved but not so much about what mattered to them. These students were far more interesting to look at on paper than to talk with in person. Was any of this stuff really their passion? Did they even know what that word meant or was it just something someone said they needed in order to get into the quote unquote right college? "
This past summer, I worked with a bright young lady who was struggling to find her fit in college as a junior. She was desperately searching for something that truly gave her purpose and meaning and yet, she was falling short. She felt lost. It appeared that the school, the major, the lack of fit were all the problem. Instead of focusing on the externals and changing her circumstances, we chose to shine the light on how she could change her perspective and attitude toward what was in her control, and shift some of the habits and behaviors that were not feeding her and ultimately not getting her closer to her goal. As we were discussing her possible next steps, she mentioned the need to improve her resume and decorate it further because she felt it needed to be more impressive to prospective employers. Instead of going this route, I proposed that her work, and our work together, was to no longer be driven by the checklist, but focused on her own personal development. In understanding her thoughts and those things that she desired, it helped her get closer to what was important to her, and ultimately who she was and who she wanted to be in 10 years.
Granted, it is the resume that most often gets you in the door, but once in the door, employers will take notice of your authenticity. Not just do you possess the skill set needed to perform the job. Are you self-aware? Do you possess a sense of humility, drive, curiosity, and tenacity? Are you capable of thinking outside the lines? Do you know how to take the initiative and not seek approval every step of the way? Are you a team-builder? Collaborator? Do you think ahead about the needs coming down the pike? What are your gifts? Curiosities? Do they align? These are just a smattering of the things that employers are looking for. An impeccable resume only goes so far. Understanding the what and why helps you make more informed choices. And your resume becomes an extension of you, not just a mere list. You want to be the full package, not just a bright shiny object. Dig deep, dear ones. You are worth it. ox