Who Are You? It’s a simple enough question, but the basis for each of the decisions you will make during your life- especially during your career. It’s just like the monotone lectures that our high school guidance counselors used to give us: “Who you are will determine what you do”, or in the words of Shakespeare “Know thyself”. Yet, even as I struggled through my first resume, I realized that the problem wasn’t that I didn’t know myself – I had been around for long enough to know my likes and my dislikes. So what was the problem?
I wouldn’t understand the larger issue until after my freshman year of college. I had tried everything in my power to get as many things onto my resume as I could – writing the morning news for the school radio station, operating a camera on Good Morning Emerson, and joining multiple other clubs without any visible connection to my major. Aside from the anxiety joining so many demanding activities caused me, it also turned my resume into a potpourri of sometimes far-stretched truths (“Camera Operator – learned to operate a studio camera, which helped me learn about the aesthetics required in a marketing career”).
This is, until I took my first class for my business minor. If you know of Simon Sinek, you may know of the “The Golden Circle”: the concept that core to what we do is why we do it. As soon as my professor explained it, I understood its significance in my own career and life. The Golden Circle is not only what you do, or how you do it, but why. Let me explain: it is simple to tell what somebody is doing – for example, I am writing this article. But why? Because through writing, I would like to help to build the TestUP brand. Why do I care about the TestUP brand? It is because I believe it is my job to help companies and individuals discover their significance and express it to the world through branding.
Take a look at your resume at present – do you have a “why” for all of your experiences in the professional world? Question everything and why, in the most genuine form, it has allowed you to develop your identity. At the core of all your experiences is the essence of why you do what you do. Is it because you wish to save the world, be an influential individual, or help future generations thrive – or all of the above? If you are still struggling to grapple the concept of “why” or have no clear answer, ask yourself this: if you could do anything in your life, what would you do? This is your purpose.
If you are still having difficulty rationalizing your past experience, or just want to learn more about yourself as an individual, try taking a personality test, or ask friends what qualities make you unique. By getting an outside perspective through either of these means, it will help you to understand which of your traits are the most prominent. Although neither of these options will likely tell you your purpose point-blank, they may help you understand your natural impulses which drive you to do what you do, and perhaps even help you understand why.
However, building this new perspective into your resume is a slightly different task – once you have figured out why you do what you do, try to understand how it relates to all of the experiences you have had throughout your life. Perhaps you volunteered at a shelter- perhaps it is because it is in your nature to bring compassion and help to those in need. Believe it or not, most of your life experiences will center around a pivotal belief or self-perspective which you hold – even if you are not entirely sure at the time about the relevance an experience has to the overall plot of your professional career. Turn these traits which helped build your unique character into marketable qualities; to cite the previous example, compassion is a trait desired in many careers. As long as you are able to prove what an event contributed to the development of your professional career, it deserves a spot on your resume.
Finally, never forget the qualities which market you as an individual and their contribution to your purpose. Find the concentrated qualities which define your purpose – it should only be a few sentences, and remember to write it down so you’ll never forget. I’ll leave you with my own, which I hope inspires you to define your unique, individual purpose:
“A brand is your mark.
Be it in business or on life, your mark is who you are and how you influence those closest to you. It is your brand, your meaning, and perception. More than anything, my goal is to help individuals and corporations to not only find their driving purpose, but to share it with those who matter most – your consumers, business partners, and most importantly yourself.
How will you leave your mark?”