When I had my second son, I had a nervous breakdown. I’m not sure exactly what the cause was. But things were bad. I had a three-year-old with autism, a baby with a facial deformity that required a team of ten different types of doctors, and no family helping me, and I didn’t take maternity leave.

This is what happened: I put a knife in my head. It’s a weird thing about the knife. A knife can’t get very far in one’s head. The head is protected. But there was enough blood that my husband and I decided I needed to go to the emergency room.

I took the baby with me. That’s what I called him: The baby. He was very new, and I was having trouble bonding. So I never let him out of my sight in the hope that physical proximity would promote emotional closeness.

The hospital in Brooklyn was well versed in post-partum depression. There was no wait to get into the emergency room. There was a social worker waiting for me next to a bed in a little room formed by large curtains on three sides.

We talked about the possibility of going to the mental ward. “You need a break,” she said. “You need some support.”

“Okay,” I said. Because I realized, when she said that, that I did want a break. Then I said, “I’ll take the baby with me.”

“You can’t. Can you leave him with a family member?”

“I have to breastfeed or I’ll lose my milk.”

She said, “You can pump.”

“No. I need to keep the baby. I need to bond. Look at his face. He’s deformed.”

She looked.

Then the social worker left. She came back with another social worker.

The new social worker asked me how I am feeling.

I took this to mean that she was going to tell me something bad. People do not ask you how you’re feeling if you are feeling bad unless they are about to make you feel worse.

She said, “We can’t have a baby in the mental ward. It’s not safe. It’s not set up for babies.”

I didn’t just cry. I started convulsing. I think it was the fact that I thought I was about to get help and rest and now it seemed like I could have nothing.

The first social worker stayed. The second social worker left. The first social worker said things to me to reassure me that the second social worker was negotiating.

The baby was asleep in my lap. I sat cross-legged on the bed, starring at the wall for maybe an hour. Or ten minutes. Time was irrelevant at that point in my life because I had no idea where I was or where I was going or what I was doing. I was just trying to keep my kids safe, minute to minute.

The social worker came back and told me that they decided they would not admit me to the hospital, because then they would have to give me a room in the mental ward. Instead they would keep me in the emergency room. Right here. For as long as they thought I needed help to be safe.

I laid back and went to sleep.

I woke up to the baby crying and the social worker right there, next to me.

Days passed.

The hospital helped me make a plan. They told me I was probably not safe to be alone with the baby for at least a month.

I used a credit card to pay a nanny agency to be in the house all the time while my husband took my other son to 40 hours of therapy a week. This was not a good time in our lives. Our credit never recovered.

Here’s how this matters for your resume:

Ask me if I went to the mental ward. Is the answer yes or no?

I could say no. That would be, technically true. But the answer you are looking for really would be the answer to the question: did you ever have a breakdown that required serious help at the hospital level? And the answer to that would be yes. So I could answer yes or no to that question, and both answers would be true. It would be hard to call me a liar either way.

So it’s fair that I give the answer that is best for me in the situation I’m in. Life is messy and it is not black and white. There is no single, correct story about your life. Because each moment, in each person’s life, has multiple versions, all true.

The biggest problem people have when they are changing careers, or moving up the ladder, or re-entering the workforce, is that they cannot imagine telling a completely different story about themselves than they have been telling for the last ten years.

Did you know that my resume can tell the story of me as a writer or me as an operations genius? I don’t like operations, but if I had to get a job in operations, I could write my resume to indicate that operations has been my focus for the last fifteen years. And I wouldn’t have any lies on my resume. I’d just frame the truth in a different way.

The Farmer learned this quickly, when I started writing about him. He was engaged to a mail-order bride, he was basically living at his parents, he was lost and sad and anxious.

When I wrote the first few stories about him, he got nervous. He told me, “I don’t want people to get the wrong idea.” And then he dumped me.

But the truth is that all stories are the wrong idea. Because every summary of every part of your life could be a totally different summary as well. And be equally true.

We got back together, of course. And people ask me how the Farmer can cope with me writing everything about our life. They ask how he can cope with no privacy. But he has tons of privacy. He has his own story of our life that is true for him, and that is private for him. He doesn’t ever think I lie on my blog. He thinks I tell my story — in the words and the pictures.

So here is a five-step resume plan for you to take control of your story:

1. Figure out where you want to be in your career right now, this moment.

2. Look back on all of your life and pull out the tidbits of your life that somehow relate to what you want to be doing now.

3. Get rid of everything on your resume that does not relate to what you want to do now.

4. Make a story that explains the way you got from one moment to the next moment in your life where you were doing what you want to be doing now.

5. Once you can tell the story verbally, have a resume writer help you build a resume that tells that story in resume format in a compelling way.

The most important thing about a career is that it is a tool to create a vibrant future. Your career is a mutable, dynamic story that you control. If you cannot tell stories about yourself from multiple angles, then the single story you have on that paper controls the rest of your life. You deserve more than that.

 

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  1. Karelys Beltran
    Karelys Beltran says:

    holy cow! I love how you compartmentalize! When I am going through highly emotionally charged problems I just can’t produce much in other areas. It’s getting better, but I’m no master of comparmentalization as of today.
     
    This advice is excellent though! thanks

    • Bobby
      Bobby says:

      Once all of our children were in full time school; my wife started doing some independent contractor work for a few hours every day. The other hours were spent either volunteering or doing errands/chores.

  2. Karelys Beltran
    Karelys Beltran says:

    ps. I wanted to write today that your kids are adorable then this post reminded me that one of them is supposed to have a history of deformed face but I can’t see it in any of the pics.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      I remember that post well, I was expecting great information as to how to justify my procrastination and ended up in an ugly puddle tears. Unfortunately, I recklessly just clicked the link and was sniffling within a couple of lines. Off to find the tissues.

      Nor have I ever noticed anything in their pictures but a ridculous amount of winsome cuteness.

    • Sandra
      Sandra says:

      A friend and I also use something from Seinfeld, when we’ve decided damn the torpedoes, we’re just going to go and tell the truth, what ever the consequences (and we don’t do it all the time, just in certain situations). Anyway! The episode is when George went in for a job interview and was completely truthful when asked why he was ‘let go’ from his last job, and he said because he had sex with the cleaning lady on his desk. 

    • Sandra
      Sandra says:

      A friend and I also use something from Seinfeld, when we’ve decided damn the torpedoes, we’re just going to go and tell the truth, what ever the consequences (and we don’t do it all the time, just in certain situations). Anyway! The episode is when George went in for a job interview and was completely truthful when asked why he was ‘let go’ from his last job, and he said because he had sex with the cleaning lady on his desk. 

  3. T'felder
    T'felder says:

    Penelope,  Although we’ve never met, and I’m a really straight woman, I fall in love with you a little bit more with every blog you write and I read.  I am awed by you and I am so thankful you are a part of my life.

  4. Rae Gross
    Rae Gross says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this, I am technically a Social Media Manager, but I can easily shift my resume to look like all I did was PR, or SEO, or marketing, depending on what I am applying for. It is all about emphasizing different parts of your experience. 

  5. Paul Hassing
    Paul Hassing says:

    Nice one, P! I’ll be adding this link to our recent debate on tyre-kicking application letter clients.

    I love your ‘multiple versions’ take. Depending on the teller, you either stepped in front of the tractor for a chat, or threw yourself under the wheels in a fit of pique! I guess the ‘truth’ is somewhere in between.

    Like a radio telescope, the more transmitters you have, the deeper and clearer the picture. So let all the tales flow! Best regards, P. :)

  6. Resume Writer
    Resume Writer says:

    Just remember that even experience that may seem unrelated to, or not supportive of your career goals could be reframed to be very supportive and very important. When it comes to your resume, accomplishments and results are far more important than tasks and functions. When you reframe your past around those accomplishments, you’ll see that they have more impact than you originally thought.
    I love and appreciate that you’re encouraging your readers to dig deep and pull out the best of the best, but at the same time, I don’t want anyone to feel that they have to forget about otherwise crucial experience or feel that they have to apologize for it.
    ‘Reframing’ (love your use of that word, P!) your experience allows you to include it in your resume, rather than omit it. 

  7. Just Plain Brian
    Just Plain Brian says:

     I hate to be that guy, but:

    “So I never let him out of my site”

    Referring to your son, it’s probably “sight”.
    Referring to your readers, it would be correct, we never leave your site.

      • Anonymous
        Anonymous says:

        Well, I do care. It is just overwhelming to me. For example, in my last post — about knowing what to look for — I saw, just before I posted, that my editor left tomatoes with an e, but tomato did not have an e. And I remembered from the last time I used that word in a post, I had misspellings everywhere. So at the very last second, I changed it. 

        And now I have learned that there’s only an e for the plural. There are so many rules. I don’t know why I don’t know them. But I know if I spellchecked every single time I made a small change, I’d drive myself nuts. I make too many small changes. I am obsessive about each word I use, so I cannot also be obsessive about the spelling of each word. 

        This would be a good time to link to all those posts about how perfectionism is a disease. But I don’t have that disease, so I’m not going to add the link. I’m just going to talk about adding it. 

        Penelope

        • Just Plain Brian
          Just Plain Brian says:

          If I see someone with spinach in their teeth, and I point it out to them, is that perfectionism? 

          If my comment was perceived as criticism, I apologize, as that was not my intent.

          • Nessa
            Nessa says:

            I didn’t mean to seem like I was getting on your case, either. I stumble on stuff like that, too, when I’m reading. I spot it easily. I only meant that I actively make the decision to ignore it in favor of great content, especially when the errors are so few.

  8. Mark
    Mark says:

    “Life is messy and it is not black and white. There is no single, correct story about your life. Because each moment, in each person's life, has multiple versions, all true.” 

    This is possibly the most insightful sentence you have shared with your readers to date.
    This is the reason I read your blog.

  9. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    There are a lot of things about this post that I love.  But my favorite is the picture and the smiles and what looks like a good friendship.  And also, one of the final  paragraphs rings especially true for me. 

  10. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I don’t need to write a resume right now, but I think this is good advice for blogger-me.  I am a terrible blogger.  I am a good writer, but I am a terrible storyteller.  I think it is because I have trouble seeing my own life as anything but a run-on sentence and I can never break it down into something meaningful.  But then maybe I’m just trying to get at the wrong version.

  11. CSreport
    CSreport says:

    This is so good.  My truth is always evolving.  The way we tell our story can change just as much.

    Your writing is fearless…I love it.

  12. Shann
    Shann says:

    I can’t help but think that the last two posts were written to sort of explain or justify the escalated problems with you and the farmer. Both reminds the readers of all you have been through, the emotional instability you have grappled with throughout your life, and your harsh, sometimes incendiary, approach towards people and problems. On one hand, I don’t feel you owe us this ‘explanation.’ On the other hand, I feel like there is really a huge lesson to be learned by it given the reactions of many readers to what happened. 

    It is extremely empowering to think of your life as a story that can be re-framed to provide foundation for a great future instead of something to hide and be ashamed of. It’s awesome that you can demonstrate this and not only preach it. I hope you genuinely don’t care about people’s perceptions of you and that these lessons are authentic–not devised to lead your audience to support situations which really aren’t positive. 

    • Valerie
      Valerie says:

      “I can’t help but think that the last two posts were written to sort of explain or justify the escalated problems with you and the farmer. ”

      You’re clever. It baffles me how almost none of the commenters here seem to pick up on this stuff. No one does. But you did, so you are obviously more clever than them. Look at the picture of the kid and the Farmer playing basketball. I mean, come on. 

      Penelope is very clever too. She is clever at reframing. The problem with reframing is that when you reframe everything so wildly all the time, you end up with nothing to rely on. She doesn’t have a real sense of self that exists outside of how other people see her as intelligent and interesting. 

      “I hope you genuinely don’t care about people’s perceptions of you and that these lessons are authentic–not devised to lead your audience to support situations which really aren’t positive.”

      This is why I think she does not really have Asperger’s. She is too clever at manipulating other people’s emotions. She writes incredibly emotional pieces with insight into how people react. So she does not have Asperger’s, because if she was truly inept at reading social cues, she wouldn’t know how to manipulate emotions so well. I think Asperger’s is a reframing of her propensity to be provocative and rude. 

      I myself do not mind provocative or rude people, but I prefer they also be genuinely so, and not couch it in some kind of claimed disability. 

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        Wow! Just wow.
        People repeatedly ask and demand to know how The Farmer feels about being in this blog. Nevermind that he contacted her after reading it and understanding that he would be in it. Seriously.

        Gosh, you sure sound like an Asperger’s expert. Thank goodness you are here to reveal the truth. (ending petty comments now)

        I don’t know your situation, but my experience has been that most people define Asperger’s by the typical male manifestation. Boys are referred to as ‘little professors’  while girls as ‘little philosophers.’  When my daughter was 2 and wanted  to delay bedtime, as I was closing the door after 15 ‘last’ good nights, she would start singing “I love my Mommyyyyyyy!” It took me years to figure out that she had AS given that my perception of Autism was that of the male’s typical traits. Please notice that I am qualifying with the word typical given that “Once you have met one Aspie . . . You have met one Aspie.”

        I am torn between hoping that you are coming from a place of genuine, but heartfelt ignorance and don’t actually have personal experience with this potentially debilitating (but potentially amazing) disorder and hoping that you do have experience with it and are simply extrapolating that to all Aspies. Either way, I think your armchair diagnosis can be harmful to the understanding of Aspie manifestations.

        I found Penelope’s blog while searching for info on AS and females. There is a woeful dearth of information about it and this blog has been invaluable. Her writing is helping me to understand my daughter, see what she may be capable of, and discovering new avenues of connecting with my Aspie husband from his point of view.

        Oh, and AS componant aside, I think she has written a brilliant post.

        • Valerie
          Valerie says:

          The following comment in no way invalidates your experiences raising your child, nor am I taking issue with anything you are saying about the differences in male/female manifestation of Asperger’s. That wasn’t my original point at all.

          I am saying that in this one single case, I don’t think she fits the main criteria of the disorder, and I don’t think she should be considered a font of knowledge when it comes to talking about it. But I do think she fits a few other psychological profiles…If we are talking diagnoses, she seems to be more BPD than anything else. I don’t know how long you have been reading this blog, but I would highly recommend you take anything she says about living with Asperger’s with a large grain of salt. She writes things for shock value, as opposed to being truly shocking. She spins stories, ruthlessly. And she is very clever, more clever than most people at manipulation, and I would be careful, listening to someone that good at lying about other things. Regardless of whether or not she has Asperger’s, I wouldn’t take her advice for an instant. Did you see the blueprint for a woman’s life? No? It’s in the sidebar, because I think she’s proud of it as it generated a lot of controversy, and that’s her whole gig. It’s like a map to X marks the spot of eternal misery. It’s awful. I would really be careful taking anything she says to heart. Of course my diagnosis is being doled out from an armchair. So’s yours, for that matter. And let’s not forget the original self-diagnosis she gave herself. I don’t see any doctors here.

      • MBL
        MBL says:

        Wow! Just wow.
        People repeatedly ask and demand to know how The Farmer feels about being in this blog. Nevermind that he contacted her after reading it and understanding that he would be in it. Seriously.

        Gosh, you sure sound like an Asperger’s expert. Thank goodness you are here to reveal the truth. (ending petty comments now)

        I don’t know your situation, but my experience has been that most people define Asperger’s by the typical male manifestation. Boys are referred to as ‘little professors’  while girls as ‘little philosophers.’  When my daughter was 2 and wanted  to delay bedtime, as I was closing the door after 15 ‘last’ good nights, she would start singing “I love my Mommyyyyyyy!” It took me years to figure out that she had AS given that my perception of Autism was that of the male’s typical traits. Please notice that I am qualifying with the word typical given that “Once you have met one Aspie . . . You have met one Aspie.”

        I am torn between hoping that you are coming from a place of genuine, but heartfelt ignorance and don’t actually have personal experience with this potentially debilitating (but potentially amazing) disorder and hoping that you do have experience with it and are simply extrapolating that to all Aspies. Either way, I think your armchair diagnosis can be harmful to the understanding of Aspie manifestations.

        I found Penelope’s blog while searching for info on AS and females. There is a woeful dearth of information about it and this blog has been invaluable. Her writing is helping me to understand my daughter, see what she may be capable of, and discovering new avenues of connecting with my Aspie husband from his point of view.

        Oh, and AS componant aside, I think she has written a brilliant post.

      • Me
        Me says:

        My thoughts exactly (regarding the photo)! And let’s not forget yesterday’s post with the whole “woe is me, I hate that people visit my blog because I talk about my husband beating me”.

        Considering the everyday drama of her personal life that she so readily shares with anyone in the world, who in their right mind will consider taking her career advice?

    • Helen
      Helen says:

      Yes, I too thought that she is trying to present a different more positive aspect of her life to try to explain that there is MORE to it than domestic violence.  Life IS messy and no matter how much we would like to have direct lines from THIS HAPPENED, therefore I HAVE TO DO THAT, its just not that easy.

  13. Pisom
    Pisom says:

    I love your naked, frank, in-your-face honesty. “Your career is a mutable, dynamic story that you control.” Just what I need to hear. 

  14. Mark Wiehenstroer
    Mark Wiehenstroer says:

    Very good post about resumes and their relationship to a person’s story (stories).It’s often said that the main (only?) function of a resume is to get the interview.I think it’s much more than that and maybe why people write their own resumes – numerous times. They’re working on their story from numerous angles and trying to get their story straight before they arrive at the interview. I’m a fan of writing your own resume – at least to a point – so that you can get all your thoughts and accomplishments down on paper. Do a data dump and try to rearrange everything in resume format to the best of your ability. So then I think it’s important to find a good resume writer that you feel comfortable with if you decide to have that person help you write your story. Personally I like to connect with people regardless of the medium or the environment and I like to do it in my own way so it’s me they see (IRL or virtual). I want the words on the resume to be mine so that if a connection is made, the connection was generated by myself. I guess it’s possible to do that with a good resume writer but I think I’m too much of a DIY person.

  15. Ginger
    Ginger says:

    I think there is no substitute for a story with focus. If you can work a few brags into it all the better!

    I was interviewing this summer after losing a job I’d had for 29 years.  The look of shock on the face of the first person I interviewed with over my having worked someplace for 29 years convinced me that I needed a better story; my lengthy tenure with the same employer was not something that the average 35 y/o person interviewing someone could fit into their own experience.

    My many years turned into phases.  I was young and just out of school building experience, I morphed into a part-time employee with small children, later I was a back-to-full-time Mom putting kids through college.  I recounted this story a couple of times and each time as I perfected it I could tell it made sense to the interviewer.   Between that and a very marketable skill-set, I’m back in the workforce.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      You know what? I do feel like the blog is the prize. I absolutely love the blog. And it’s there for me, through everything. 

      Penelope

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      You know what? I do feel like the blog is the prize. I absolutely love the blog. And it’s there for me, through everything. 

      Penelope

  16. Kusandra
    Kusandra says:

    Hey Pen,

    Thanks for this great post. I have been reading the blog for three years because I love your writing style and I am an over-sharer and you help me accept this in myself. I don’t want to change it, I want to channel it! Anyway, after being told so many times, I sell myself short, I plan on taking this and your other columns and reframing my career/work/life into something I can enjoy and make more $$$.

    Thanks for being there. I was stuggling with domestic/sanity/child rearing issues myself over the last weekend and your honesty kept me good company.

  17. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    A lie is saying something with the intention of deceiving the other person. Even if you don’t speak any literal untruths, it is still a lie if you intend for the other person to believe something that is untrue. Does this matter? It is worth reading Lying by Sam Harris on this topic. This essay is available as a Kindle single.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      We deceive people every day. It’s normal human behavior. For example, when someone says, “How are you?” and you say, “Fine.” 

      In fact, people who are unable to follow social conventions of deception are the people who have Asperger’s Syndrome. Social skills are what we do instead of saying the absolute most exact version of the truth every second. If you are always searching for what’s true, rather than what’s socially correct, you end up being impossible to deal with. 

      Here’s a post I should have linked to. It’s about how people who don’t understand social conventions around truth end up looking insane.

      http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2003/07/18/the-fine-line-between-boasting-on-a-resume-and-lying/

      Penelope

      • Karelys Beltran
        Karelys Beltran says:

        it’s odd how people get so hanged up on lying or not lying when rearranging your life story. What I take away from this is that if you want a job that you believe you can do very well and should be paid for then shape your resume so you get an interview. When you get that interview tell a story that will get you the job. When you get the job do awesome.

        Does it matter if you fit the requirements black and white as long as you are able to do such job?

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      We deceive people every day. It’s normal human behavior. For example, when someone says, “How are you?” and you say, “Fine.” 

      In fact, people who are unable to follow social conventions of deception are the people who have Asperger’s Syndrome. Social skills are what we do instead of saying the absolute most exact version of the truth every second. If you are always searching for what’s true, rather than what’s socially correct, you end up being impossible to deal with. 

      Here’s a post I should have linked to. It’s about how people who don’t understand social conventions around truth end up looking insane.

      http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2003/07/18/the-fine-line-between-boasting-on-a-resume-and-lying/

      Penelope

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      Caitlin, what do you suggest as a response to an interviewer asking about the candidate’s weaknesses?
       I believe the standard recommendation is to couch a ‘strength’ as a weakness.

      “I tend to get too caught up in my work and end up working after hours.”

      Should they pick that, or say “I take really long lunches, am chronically late, and have sucky people skills, but sometimes work from home to keep from losing my job.”

      I’m pretty sure those in HR have read all of the tricks and take things with a grain of salt. And yet the dance continues. Does a flattering response make one a liar or savvy?

  18. Jennifer Soodek
    Jennifer Soodek says:

    Your ability to share you personal story, while shocking at times, provides readers with your reality and the choices you make in how to deal with the challenges you face.It is really what makes it so readable: it is realistic.

    I think drawing the analogy to the resume and advising people to tell their story via a resume is advice to be well taken. A story has links and connections. It displays how someone put one foot in front of the other to take their steps on the journey of life. (As I write this I have a visual of Dorothy making her way to Oz on the yellow brick road.)

    Congrats Penelope on sharing some real life stuff that will ultimately help people in more way than one.

    Another completely different issue you raise in this blog is postpartum depression. A really scary and foreign place where support and empathy can be invisible. It is important for women to share their experiences so when it does happen it becomes more acceptable and is not stigmatized.

    Wow Penelope, you always have so much going on!

  19. sophiz
    sophiz says:

    Thank you so much. Very powerful story. Life is all about framing stories.. true for relationships and jobs 

  20. sophiz
    sophiz says:

    Thank you so much. Very powerful story. Life is all about framing stories.. true for relationships and jobs 

  21. sophiz
    sophiz says:

    So true. Just to add to my previous comment, I think that’s why people get depressed – the stories they create in their mind are all manipulated to see the world in a negative light. it’s all negative framing. In politics and law, you have to frame your stories to show people the angle you want. You build the story to support your own frame of reference. 

    I remember when I was a virgin at a later age… despite being beautiful and desirable, and having many guys want to date me, I suffered low self-esteem. I had reasons for waiting as long as I did, but I felt regretful later that I didn’t just give it away when I was young in high school or early undergrad. When I was with this guy I was dating I told him I just wanted to lose it.. he looked at me in shock, as if I was kidding, asking why I waited… and I told a ‘story’ that made me look insecure and vulnerable, and he never called me back. I could have framed my lack of relationship/sexual experience in a positive light – I was very accomplished for my age, there was nothing ‘wrong’ with me in terms of looks or personality, I could have probably had any guy I wanted. I didn’t really need an “excuse” but I felt ashamed… there’s plenty of people who wait for moral or religious reasons and that’s completely legitimate, but I felt stupid and insecure. I painted a story that was full of self-doubt rather than acceptance. Now I’ve resolved in moving forward, that I’m going to be strong (I’m no longer a virgin btw..) and accept my life choices for legitimately and proudly making me the person I am. And truthfully, there’s so many guys who would accept me as I am, I shouldn’t have to settle for one or two that can’t accept me for sticking to what I believed to be important to me. I now see the world in a different light & accept a story that’s more forgiving and positive to me. Thanks so much.

  22. Casey
    Casey says:

    If there were a Nobel Prize for Career Advice Literature you would win it. Maybe someday people will fully appreciate just how insightful and significant your work really is. Because you aren’t really just giving career advice. 

  23. vhien
    vhien says:

    I’ve never heard such resume advice till now. I could say that you’re a very strong woman, with all your experiences here. I salute you for that! 

  24. Lusaka Ville
    Lusaka Ville says:

    Thanks for the counsel, wise counsel! People remain glued to a career and a job even when change beckons; this is proof yet that when it’s time to move on, life’s deck chairs can be rearranged.

  25. Kbrleads
    Kbrleads says:

    I am a resume/interview coach. I tell people to always tell the truth but wrap the truth around the story you are telling. It is not lying. It is selling yourself. I have rarely heard others say the same thing as well as you did. Thanks!

  26. Daniel Wong
    Daniel Wong says:

    Your heartfelt post really struck a chord with me, Penelope.

    I completely agree that your career is a dynamic story that’s within your control. I know so many people who say things like “There’s just no way for me to move to another industry” or “I’m not happy at my current job, but there’s nowhere else for me to go.”

    How helpless you must feel in order for you to say something like that!

    I work in the aviation industry (which is, admittedly, a pretty specialized field), so it’s really common for my colleagues to conclude that they have to stay in aviation for the rest of their career.

    But this line of thinking confuses what is average with what is normal. It’s average to feel kind of stuck and unhappy in your job, to feel uncomfortable about moving out of your comfort zone. 

    But is that normal? No!

    It’s normal to feel like you’re going where you want to in your career, and to feel like your job is meaningful. We need to raise our standards of what we consider normal if we want to find fulfillment in our careers, and in every other area of our lives, too.

    Thank you, Penelope, for explaining how we can reject this “average” line of thinking when it comes to writing a resume and building a career.

  27. Beth
    Beth says:

    Thanks for this. 

    Not actually looking for jobs right now, but this is what I’ve been telling my interns to do. I think you explained it much more clearly than I did, however! 

  28. CMB
    CMB says:

    Thank you. After reading this I seriously revised my resume and if I can swing it I’m going to pay someone to rewrite for me. I know I know, I should just go ahead and pay someone now, maybe my next payday. Any advice on what writing service to use?

  29. MJ
    MJ says:

    This makes sense.  I’d been thinking recently that my 3 pages of speaking engagements and articles were things I did becuase once I thought I needed to, or that they were worthy, but I’m not intersted in them or what they regard and they pigeon hole me.  So, it’s gonna be a shorter revised resume for sure!

  30. MJ
    MJ says:

    This makes sense.  I’d been thinking recently that my 3 pages of speaking engagements and articles were things I did becuase once I thought I needed to, or that they were worthy, but I’m not intersted in them or what they regard and they pigeon hole me.  So, it’s gonna be a shorter revised resume for sure!

  31. Dave
    Dave says:

    If you can’t connect the dots to create whatever story you want to tell, you need more dots. Get off the couch.

  32. Dale
    Dale says:

    Where does courage come from? Want, need, outside influence?  Beyond the resume, how do you secure a position you are not qualified for and feel intimidated by the prospect of getting?

  33. Jaime
    Jaime says:

    This is one of your best posts EVER. I thank you so much for that.

    And, by the way, I suggest you say “No” if asked about the mental ward,

  34. Grace
    Grace says:

    I am an employment consultant.  I tell clients that their story adapts to their audience.  We speak to children differently than we speak to adults.  We speak to our co-workers differently than we speak to our spouses.  The same story can have a different emphasis based on who we talk to.  Advertisers promote products based on the needs of their audience, and not based on the product alone.  Being selective isn’t (always) the same as lying. 

    As for lying in an interview when asked about your weaknesses, I never tell my clients to lie or to dress up a strength as a weakness.  I simply tell them to pick a weakness that is real but non-fatal to their job search, explain how it can be a (minor) problem and then show how they work to overcome it.  That way, their strength is in their honesty and their  ability to face a challenge.

  35. Grace
    Grace says:

    I am an employment consultant.  I tell clients that their story adapts to their audience.  We speak to children differently than we speak to adults.  We speak to our co-workers differently than we speak to our spouses.  The same story can have a different emphasis based on who we talk to.  Advertisers promote products based on the needs of their audience, and not based on the product alone.  Being selective isn’t (always) the same as lying. 

    As for lying in an interview when asked about your weaknesses, I never tell my clients to lie or to dress up a strength as a weakness.  I simply tell them to pick a weakness that is real but non-fatal to their job search, explain how it can be a (minor) problem and then show how they work to overcome it.  That way, their strength is in their honesty and their  ability to face a challenge.

  36. Grace
    Grace says:

    Most of my clients have difficulties talking about their skills or being descriptive on their resumes, even when their claims are completely true.  Why? Because they don’t want to brag or seem arrogant.  Crazy.  Do we think employers are mind readers or something? 

    Reframing isn’t about creating new information but about seeing old information in a new way. We all need to believe in ourselves just a bit more. 

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