WHOSE CAREER IS IT ANYWAY?
A woman called me and said “My name is Sarah. I got laid off a month ago. I’ve been an attorney for twelve years.
“Do you want to keep practicing law?” I asked her.
“No way,” said Sarah. “I’m sick of it. I’ll tell you what I want to do. I want to be a stand-up trainer.”
“Have you done that sort of work before?” I wondered. “I do it all the time,” she said. “I build training programs for our clients, and for attorneys in our firm. They ask me to do it because I love it, and I’m good at it. I’ve logged countless hours of stand-up training time, and I get rave reviews.”
“Brava!” I said. “That’s outstanding. So you want to go into corporate training?”
“Well, I want to,” said the lady, “but who’s going to hire an attorney who wants to shift careers into corporate training?”
“What does your resume say now?” I asked her. Sarah read a bit of her summary paragraph aloud. “Experienced corporate attorney and litigator with sixteen years of experience practicing law, looking to move into corporate training.”
“I know,” she said. “It’s bad.”
“You know, Sarah, you don’t need permission to change careers,” I said. “You are a corporate trainer now. Haven’t you been training corporate people for many, if not all, of those sixteen years?”
“Yes, I have,” said Sarah, “but I don’t have that title anywhere on my resume.”
“Who cares about that?” I asked her. “I advise businesspeople and job-seekers. I never had the title Advisor to Businesspeople and Job-Seekers on my resume until I put it there.”
“So how would you re-word my resume summary, if you were me,” she asked me. “What about this?” I said:
I’m a Trainer and Course Developer whose strong suit is translating dense, technical or legal source material into compelling and memorable training experiences.
“You want me to call myself a Trainer?” wondered Sarah. “I do indeed, because you are one,” I laughed. “If you’d feel more comfortable with a formal naming ceremony, we can do that now, over the phone.” Now Sarah laughed. “I have my seven-year-old’s light saber right here,” I continued. “I could dub you Sarah, Knight of Training in a heartbeat.”
“Okay, I get your point,” said Sarah. “I don’t need permission to change careers.”
“You don’t need it, and the truth is that you wouldn’t get it if you asked for it,” I said. “Resume screeners tend to be fearful. Why would they look twice at a candidate whose resume seems to plead for a chance? It’s your career. The day you wake up and say ‘I’m a Trainer,’ then you are.”
“I’m a really, really good trainer,” said Sarah.
Who could doubt her?