The job market is tough and if you’ve been unemployed for a while or looking to get into a whole new career area, it may be necessary to trade in the chronological resume for one that focuses on all of your awesome skills and experiences rather than previous job titles. A good example: when I worked in staffing, a farmer who was in his mid-40’s (I’m guessing) came in asking me if there was any hope for him getting into the business world after a life of farming. After asking several questions, we created a list of skills he was more than able to transfer to the business world: sales, marketing (of produce and cattle), computer (Excel, Word, Inventory software), bookkeeping, negotiations, time management and organizational, etc. We produced a very effective resume that showed he had excellent business skills and would do very well, particularly in an agricultural or industrial environment.

Write a new definition of “who” you are in the workplace. Avoid identifying yourself with the job description but rather identify yourself as a package of skills. This keeps you from determining your value and security level by your previous work. The more you place your value on a job title, the more you will feel a loss of self-esteem or identity when it is gone. Self-esteem is boosted when you focus on all of your accomplishments and transferable skills instead.
First, examine your history by compiling a comprehensive list of as many achievements, both personal and professional, as you can. Include: personal achievements which contain valuable and salable skills, including civic and volunteer positions. Write a paragraph describing each achievement. Use action words like organize, negotiate, lead, create, sell. These are clues to your true abilities and interests. Review the list and notice recurring patterns in key words. Use this list as the foundation for your skill-based resume.
Examine your skills. You will see a mix of the following characteristics. These will help you determine the best career path, one which will fulfill your need to be “you”, and not what someone else wants you to be or do.

  • Influence You have a knack for influencing people through leadership, public speaking, marketing, motivating (not manipulating), negotiating.
  • Organize. Your organizational and monitoring/tracking ability helps keep you and others managed and on track.
  • Helps. You derive enjoyment from teaching, encouraging, nurturing and counseling.
  • Creative. You are artistic, theatrical or creative in designing products or events.
  • Analytical. You enjoy using math, analyzing data or keeping up with the latest scientific advancements.
  • Producer. You like to see the fruit of your labor using hands-on skills—cooking, crafts, construction, or building projects.
  • Adventuresome. You are competitive or like to take risks—law enforcement, firefighting, military, athletics.

In today’s workforce, the most desirable are those with the largest pool of skills. See what you can add to your repertoire: advanced computer skills, database research, time management, project management, etc. Best wishes. Let me know your success stories!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rita Rocker is a national inspirational and educational speaker, communications and image specialist, and a career and virtual presentations coach with Transformation Academy, LLC.  She is the author of “A Guide to Marketing Yourself for Success”, and a contributing author to “The Unstoppable Woman’s Guide to Emotional Well Being -The Total Woman in Leadership and Success Guide for the Unstoppable Entrepreneur.” She has appeared on national television and radio talk shows on self-esteem and communication. A former Mrs. Nebraska and active in numerous professional organizations, Rita is on the Board of the Small Business Association of the Midlands and co-director of greater Omaha’s Affiliated Women International. Rita provides life and career-transforming programs to mature teens and adults. Contact Rita at