You know that saying, "Comparison is the thief of joy?" Well, it can apply to job search.
So many people get swept up in comparing themselves and their job search to others that it bogs them down until they are buried in frustration, cynicism and even anger.
Don't let this be you.
1. Don't compare writing your resume to what other people in your network tell you is the right way.
There are no clear-cut right and wrong rules to resume writing. You do want to use common sense, though, and if you feel you no longer have that perspective, hire someone who does. Don’t just hire any resume writer. Research and vet out someone you feel is a fit, for you.
2. Don't compare your resume to reverse chronological obituaries.
As well, writing a professional resume doesn't mean you have to use gray and black crayons and color between the lines. Resumes no longer must be blandly designed, traditional reverse chronological obituaries with "responsibilities for" and a few percentages and dollar signs sprinkled in.
Instead, they can be robust career stories that influence emotion. They do this by showing how you used listening, analysis and communication skills to untangle tedious and confounding problems in order to break open market share and skyrocket profits.
And yes, colorful resumes can stimulate results even in traditionally conservative industries. Remember, your resume is a marketing piece, not a financial report.
3. Focus less on carving a me-too resume pattern and more on describing how you solve companies' problems.
Moreover, while your part in the problem solving may seem small to you, you must connect the dots for the reader to show why it matters. You can express how what you do affects something else in the organization which in turn rows the boat further toward shore which then helps rescue a department or entire company that was adrift.
Don't shy away from being the hero among other heroes. Make your message sing; show your how and your why along with the outcomes.
Get uncomfortable in trying this new approach to career messaging versus getting trapped in outdated but well-meaning advice and comparing your results with the styles and words of your friends' resumes. Your story is one-of-a-kind.
4. Finally, take a moment to trust you offer unique value. Stop comparing who you are in the job force against a former co-worker or potential candidate vying for the same position.
If you feel shaky in your current self-assessment, then reach out to a couple of past colleagues, bosses, customers, collaborators, business partners, vendors – whomever you may have crossed paths with professionally and has a sense for how well you do what you do.
Ask them to write one paragraph – just a few sentences -- about the value they felt when working with you.
For example, if you reach out to a former boss, don't just ask for a testimonial – that may leave him feeling stumped as in, "Where do I start?" Instead, say, "I remember you used to compliment me that I didn't have to be asked to do something – that I saw the issue before it materialized, and then proactively acted."
Take it a step further by providing a reminder when you specifically demonstrated this trait. Help your boss help you.
Or, think of a client who trusted you enough to repeatedly hire you. Request they express what it was about your service, your personality and your skills that prompted them to repeatedly seek you out. Why did they like you so much?
By making these requests, you will likely receive a plethora of meaningful responses that reinforce your value and even reveal new things about your value that further stoke your confidence fire. We often take for granted our traits and abilities that come naturally to us, but those same characteristics often are the ones most valued by others.