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Reevaluate and Recycle Yourself

While unemployed and searching for a job, you have a great opportunity to reevaluate your experiences, skills and passions. It is the perfect time for self-assessment and taking personal inventory. In a difficult economic environment, especially if you are in a hard-hit industry like finance, stepping out of your own box might even be a necessity.

To do this, draw upon not just your professional experience, but your life experience: the skills you learned from relationships and family, hobbies and community activities. Think about your experience of living in a specific place or traveling. Think about what you really enjoy doing and what gets you excited.

One benefit of my long stretch of unemployment was that it rekindled the creativity in me. I realized I have experiences, skills and passions other than those highlighted in my job experience. For instance, I re-discovered my passion for writing.

Birth of the 'Transformational' Resume

It all surfaced when I wrote a non-chronological, transferable skills resume. Some people label this type of format a "functional" resume. I prefer to call it a "transformational" resume.

Before I went through that reevaluation process, many prospective employers, recruiters and acquaintances people who saw my traditional-style resume told me it was "strong," "excellent," or even "great." If that was so, then why why wasn't anyone hiring me?

A career coach challenged me and changed all that. "Your resume needs to stand out," she told me. "You need to do something different. You have to write a non-chronological resume and you need to base it on your transferable skills."

Transferable skills made some sense to me. Those were the skills I could apply to a variety of tasks, jobs and environments. But a non-chronological resume? Wasn't my resume supposed to be a sequential, orderly documentation of my work experience? What use could there be in writing a non-chronological resume? What would a potential employer think if they received one?

Although hesitant, I was intrigued enough to spend several tortuous days working on the new format - and more important, working on myself. After a few days of introspection, writing and revising, my resume and I were transformed.

Benefits of the Process

I did not immediately appreciate what had happened. Over the next few days, as I started applying to new jobs and following up on old leads, I gained comfort with the new format and started realizing its transformative and transitional powers. My work experience was no longer a bland, chronological list of job titles and job descriptions but a colorful and powerful statement of my skills, experiences and achievements - while better reflecting my personality, goals and desires.

I also noticed a distinct change in my mood. I felt a surge of self-confidence I had not felt in many months. I had achieved much in my life, had a great education, world-class work experience and excellent skills - and I was not going to be defined by a chronological list of job titles and tasks. I was going to let my creativity, bravery and integrity shine through. I was going to unleash my full potential and pursue my dreams.

Even if you submit your standard chronological resume or both resumes to potential employers, by producing a non-chronological transferable skills resume, you can identify your enthusiasm, have your skill set at the tip of your tongue during interviews and be able to confidently tell potential employers how you will save them money, make them money and solve their problems.

Instead of a dry catalogue of job titles and job descriptions in a standard format with monotone content, I was able to clearly express the breadth of my skill set and achievements and the depth of my personality and capabilities. Instead of merely citing job experiences and education, I was able to express my capacity for experience and learning. After all, I was not simply a valuations professional with a variety of job experiences, but I was also an accomplished writer.

Joshua Persky is a New York-based career management author, blogger and lecturer whose professional background is in corporate finance and valuation. Last year he gained worldwide media attention for handing out his resume to strangers on the street while wearing a homemade sandwich board that read: "Experienced MIT Grad for Hire."

AUTHORJoshua Persky Insider Comment
  • Ka
    4 November 2009

    Joshua, thanks for this piece.Can you give us sites where we can get tips on writing non chronological resume.
    I will like to rewrite my resume and hope it propels me to higher grounds.
    Thank you.

  • Ra
    Rajan Johri
    8 October 2009

    Good Interviewers have been always deriving and deciphering the transformation journey a candidate has undertaken. So if Joshua is stating it upfront should be welcome. However, I do recommend that this be added to the traditional chronological resume and not be a stand-alone piece.

  • Te
    Terry Sullivan
    8 October 2009

    My only question is how does one go through this process. No suggestions.

  • Da
    David B
    7 October 2009

    As an HR professional, I have always looked upon "functional" resumes with disdain - what is the candidate trying to hide? This is an interesting twist, and if nothing else, helps the candidate focus on strengths and accomplishments. My big question is, was this format successful in getting the author a new position - or even invitations for interviews?

  • ma
    mauricej ohnson
    5 October 2009

    Thanks for the notes - we (the "unwashed masses") get so many tips on how to revamp CV that it's tough to with any format -

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