The Did List

I have had the wonderful honor of being allowed to look into the lives of a few people this year.

The people I have “viewed” are ready to make a change in their lives, changes largely precipitated by a job loss. One of my friends is in a foreign country, preparing to come back to the states, ready to begin a life of work.

My advice has been very uniform.

“Write it down.”

When we read words about ourselves, they have a lot of impact. We know if we’re being honest. We know if our vision is clouded by externalities, or if the words represent our real state of being. When we consider making substantive changes in our existence, we have to be honest with ourselves, first.

You have to write it down.

I exchange words with these special people via email, Skype and phone; extemporaneous evangelism, fueled by the enthusiasm to help them see the light. I am not a PhD, but I, like you, am a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks; We’ve all picked up a few things along the way. My advice is and was not the answer to their queries or the magic bullet for their employment challenge- it’s just a helping hand, a little push. They have to do the work themselves. When I was wallowing in misery and self-doubt last year, there were people in my life who fueled me and  pushed me. I am eternally grateful for what they did for me. This is my chance to pay it forward.

Before one can make a successful transition in one’s life, you must have a good long talk with you. This conversation with you answers a few questions:

1) Who am I?

2) What am I best at?

3) Of the things I am best at doing, which specific things on that list make me the happiest?

4) What relevant experience do I have that shows proven success doing the things I like to do?

When you write it down, and look at your words about you, you’ve taken a huge step forward.

People waste so much time applying for (the wrong) jobs online. These documents vanish into the corporate ether- you are never going to hear from “them”.

You are fudging a resume to align yourself with a specific position, adding and deleting keywords in the hope that the HR software picks up something, anything that gets you to the next step in the gauntlet. Modifying words on a page to represent yourself is not being honest with yourself. If you don’t really have expertise with that software, your lack of knowledge will be exposed instantly in the interview. You either know it, or you don’t- and if they’re not willing to train you on it, you’re not going to make it to the next level. You have wasted your time, and theirs.

 Write it down. Write a list of every single thing you have “done” at your last 1-3 jobs- and I mean EVERYTHING. You’ll wonder if “picking up donuts on Wednesdays” is relevant. It is, for this reason; the list of stuff you did must be comprehensive. This is an super-oversimplified example, but perhaps the things you do for your colleagues in your office gave you joy. Perhaps you were the person who organized Taco Tuesdays at your office. Maybe it was you who came up with the idea to have that team-building picnic, the one that the employees actually wanted to go to!

 Patterns are revealed on this long list. What things in your work world made you happiest? When you write it all down, then go back and look over your honest words about you…there’s a job in there, the one you really want.

 You have a couple of choices here; you can wallow and complain to your friends and family, “I don’t know what I want to do!”, or you can find out. The List About You is not an employment guarantee, but it will allow you to craft resumes, cover letters and in-person dialog with confidence. These words about you say the following things:

1) I’m proficient at these skills.

2) I have a proven track record of experience performing these tasks.

3) I am a huge asset to the company because of the value I bring to the table.

No fudging necessary.

Write it down. Remind yourself how great you truly are.

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