For those about to hunt the job, I salute you.

Some of my library school cohort are graduating now, and I wanted to share some really hard-earned wisdom from old Auntie Jill.

I had to completely rewrite my resume once.  I have never had writer’s block like this before – I would open my laptop, launch the Word file that contained my resume, stare at it in horror for about 15 seconds, quit the program, close the laptop and go off and do… well, anything.

I knew my experience was good. I knew my resume wasn’t reflective of that, and I did not know how to bridge that gap. As a writer, this particularly irked me. Isn’t this what I’m paid to do? To convince people through my words that something is worth doing? Something like… hiring me, say?

So finally, I sat down with a woman at the expensive outplacement center my former employer was paying for and for two hours she had me read all of the bullet points in my resume one after the other. Did this, wrote that, managed the other thing. And to every point she said, “Which resulted in what?” And the truth slowly dawned that showing results rather than activity was the important thing. And that the results weren’t always obvious to everyone, though they were so screamingly obvious to me that it seemed silly to put them down on the page until I was able to put myself in that other person’s shoes.

Anyone can do stuff.  Prove to the world that the stuff you’re doing makes a difference, and don’t take it for granted that the difference you are making is self-evident.  And congratulations, grads.


  1. Well said, as always, Jill! Thanks :) Have good news as far as my job hunt is concerned!

  2. Well, let the old girl know what you’re up to, woman! You’ve been entirely too quiet of late!

  3. Think I’m ready to make an official announcement– wanted to wait until the paperwork was signed (which I did today)! Can’t wait to catch up with you in person– I’ve missed you this semester!! Having just been through an intense interview process, I can’t tell how spot on you are on with this advice… the “which resulted in what?” is everything– was grilled about the results of my activities in the interview. Helpful to have a variety of ways you can talk about the results, too– some really want the data/number aspect, others respond more to telling the “story” version of the results… if that makes any sense (end of semester brain drain)!

  4. Oh, makes perfect sense. Using numbers is the easiest way to impress people, but can be the hardest data to get at. Sometimes all you have is anecdote or basically telling people what the intended result was and assuming those activities actually did it – because you have no control group to prove otherwise.

    And congratulations, bigtime! Looking forward to hearing all about it.

  5. thanks Jill! It is time for me to try new tactics.

  6. I’m with you,sister, re-writing your resume when you’re making what appears to be a career leap is daunting like hell. And you’ve been guided well and no doubt produced a resume that will bring HR people to their knees.

    I will point out the extraordinarily under-utilized power of a well written cover letter. After struggling for a lot of my mid-career, I’m thinking perhaps I should launch a freelance cover-letter writing enterprise. I wonder if I could make my epidemiology efforts appear relevant…in a cover letter, at least..?

    Its only in casual writing that I abuse the ellipse (and speech…). Just in case you were wondering.