job jumper tip #1: create a WIDD file

jobjumper1

A neighbor commented to Bubelah that she visited a career coach to help concoct a resume after being laid off. She worked for a major financial institution that decided to layoff thousands of workers after some poor decisions by senior management (who, of course, did not lay themselves off).

Having worked for this company for her entire career, she had never prepared a resume again after being hired 15 years ago. I was shocked to hear this. My experience has been radically different. I have worked in four different cities and two countries for five different companies. For two of those companies, I made major changes in the department I worked for, necessitating a whole new interview process. As a consultant now, I “interview” for a new client on average once every six months. I do nothing but polish up my resume.

So as a confirmed job jumper myself, I decided to devote the next few Wednesdays to advice for the “job jumper” – someone who willingly jumps from position to position (I’m shifting the link roundups to Fridays). You don’t even need to change companies. My definition of a jumper is someone who needs to interview before working in a position, either internally or externally. How is this different from a job hopper? A job hopper implies (to me, at least) a more casual, laid back approach – just switching jobs for the sake of switching. A job jumper is making a definitive, forceful push for a reason.

These tips will be useful for anyone who is considering a change in their current “job” – even if they are self-employed. My intention is to make each tip simple, as well, because I have come across a lot of dense career advice. Advice you can’t easily use is the worst kind of brain clutter.

So…

Tip 1: Keep a “what I done did” (WIDD) document.

I have a Word document that started out as a Word 2.0 file back in the mid-90s. I think the first time I saved it, it went on a floppy disk. The old school, 5 1/4 inch floppies that were really floppy. This document – I call it my WIDD file – has been a lifesaver over the years. I work in a “project” style job (except for one year in corporate financial reporting). A “project-centric” job means that I have projects that begin and end – I don’t do the same thing month after month. I go to Client XYZ, perform consulting/auditing/accounting/etc., give them a report and move on. Sometimes this takes months and months. Sometimes I do it in one or two days. At one point I managed eight different projects running concurrently (with a staff of 25). The point is that in 15 years I have probably averaged 50+ projects per year.

I kept a written record of what I did at all of them.

This is critical for a jumper. You need to keep a record of what you actually did, not what your duties were. This is different than keeping a resume. When I jump to a new position, I don’t list every project I managed. I do, however, hunt through my WIDD file to see if I can find a skill or experience that is relevant to the position I want to get. I could never keep all of this information in my head, or in a resume. If I keep it in a file that’s easy to search, I can quickly and easily tailor my “bare bones” chronological resume to highlight some clever “hit points.”

You don’t have to keep a long description. Do make sure you hit the high points. For my audit work, I might highlight which parts of their financial statements I personally audited, or difficult accounting issues I had to decide with the client. Two or three bullets usually suffice.

Try and keep a WIDD file. It takes one or two minutes per week to update and the next time you need to prepare a resume, you’ll be able to highlight specific, relevant experience rather than giving a potential employer the same dull, drab resume with generic skills that you give everyone else.

Check out the rest of the job jumper tips: