Sunday, May 23, 2010

How to flesh out your Work-Life Database™

Keep it simple

You can keep this pretty simple. Stick with the first eight columns and just start adding all the major jobs you’ve had over the years. Write down the title of your job and start identifying the roles you had in that job. All jobs break down into components often called roles. Those components or roles for a job such as technical writer, might be team lead, peer reviewer, help writer, user interface designer and writer, white paper writer, team member, new writer mentor, usage resource, etc. There are usually a lot of different hats that we wear in any job.

So what does this get you? It gets you a quick and easy way to write a customized resume. Once the database is completed (or even partially completed), it is easy to copy and paste the appropriate pieces of your work life into a resume that is responsive to the requirements as stated in job description. In my case, being a writer, I have to fuss with it, but even so, I routinely produce one-off, customized resumes specific to a job description in under a half hour. Much better than the 3-4 hours I use to take.

You’ll see in the template that there are additional columns. “Job type to apply for” column is where I place a job title (such as technical writer) that tells me that this line is suitable for applying for a tech writer position.

Tracking your strengths

For many of us who go through the process of fleshing out a Work-Life Database™, a surprising result often occurs: We start to see what we are good at and what we are lousy at. Trends appear in what we write about in our accomplishments column. And since most of us are unemployed (or underemployed), we often are questioning whether we’ve chosen the right career. But how do we articulate the trends we see in the database? We see them, but what sort of a job might they work well in?

Learn to articulate your strengths

What we recommend to help you articulate your strengths and to help you more clearly see what you are good at is to take a test by the Gallup organization that will help you identify your strengths. This online test is available to you when you purchase one of the Gallup Organization’s Strength Finder books. You can also pay a fee on their website to take the test without buying the book. It is a 177-question test that determines what your top-five strengths are and produces a report that shows your top-five strengths (out of 37 available strengths). It gives you a detailed description of what you are good at. What sort of work you might be good at. And what roles in a job you might do the best.

In our Work-Life Database™ template there is a Top Five Strengths section. After taking the test, place your top five strengths in the column headings. Using your new-found insight into your strengths, start describing how an accomplishment was aided by a strength. Go through your whole history and describe how a strength has aided you on the job. As you do this, you’ll soon see where you’ve been successful because of your natural strengths. This is highly likely to help you more clearly see who you are and where your career possibly should go.

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