Do you like your CV? How does it make you feel when you introduce your profession to someone new? Do you feel somehow bothered, or cannot find the words to describe it? Are you changing career and the old CV just seems wrong and you are not sure how to make that bridge?
I think this happens because you were losing yourself into your work persona, and your real genuine self-esteem got lost in this process. I would like to explain you how I have reached this conclusions, through my own work and previous experience.
I see this more and more, and I can totally relate to that, because this used to be my belief too: people do not really believe that their job is going to reflect their passion. Even worse: they don't believe they can actually reach this passion that they secretly feel, let alone being identified with their work in this current life.
Growing up, I was told that your personal life is one thing, and that the professional one is another thing. And, especially for the professional one, you should choose which mask to wear: the aggressive one, so people get scared and "respect" you more for that (being "respect" an euphemism for FEAR), or the passive "follower" one, where you pretend to follow the rules, but secretly think of a silent revolution at your workplace. And never mix professional life with personal life, especially if you are having problems at home. Shut them down and pretend all is good.
This way of thinking is still very very common, despite all the tremendous efforts done by professionals and companies to bring more awareness into mental health, and empower people to choose what they really love and are good at within the workplace.
The problem with this attitude is that we are led to believe that, if we have a mask at work, then also our CV needs to have that mask, to reflect the character or persona we want to be. Or to hide the fact that, truth be told, we don't really like that particular job or that particular industry. This painful dichotomy between who you long to be and what you do as profession can damage self-esteem on a very deep level, because your are the only one who secretly knows that you are not being yourself, and that you are breaking that unspoken pact of self-loyalty and self-respect we all should look at.
Since the self-esteem starts to decrease, so does our own sense of how we present ourselves into the world (and this is well explained in one of my favorite books, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden), and automatically we will have difficulties and will feel a sense of frustration and dislike towards our CV or when people ask you what you do. This can get particularly difficult when it comes to find a new job or during a transition time. We look at our CV and we dislike it, we are secretly mad at ourselves for having gathered experience in something we don't like, or even worse: that CV seems to belong to another person! So, when we write the cover letter for that person whose self-esteem got lost in space, the cover letter tone will be absolutely foreign to us. Like we are describing an object. It would be very difficult to connect to who we are, what we are good at, our achievements and expertise.
If you recognize this, and it's hurting you, please know something: we all know this pain at some point. It is a question of finding your way to reconnect to that person that we no longer recognize. Here a few steps:
- If you are looking for a job and need to write a cover letter, please redo your CV first. Do not send a cover letter of a CV you dislike.
- In order for your CV to speak to you, select a picture that is professional, but that also makes you feel warm when you look at it. You can wear different clothes, try a different smile and expression, and also ask your friends or beloved ones: "How much do you see of me when you look at this picture"?
- If what you have done so far does not reflect the new you, or never did, try to remember the good things you learnt from that job. There must be some learning involved: did you become a better speaker? Did you learn new digital tools? Was that one the place where you became a team player and had a good boss? Write them down.
- If you have a total CV writing block, I recommend to start writing down the good things about yourself, in general. Not necessarily related to work. Do you like cooking? What is cooking doing for you to make you a potential better professional? Maybe a special attention to details, or creativity.
- If you are changing industries, create different CVs. This is a necessary step, because it will separate physically the two different lives, to reconnect you to the most authentic one.
- If your new CV with the potential new profession/life is a bit empty, think of how you learnt about your new passion or profession, and at least put down the learning achievements. The old CV can contain elements of the new profession, and less of the old. This will give you a more balanced self-image and will help you in your self-esteem
Let me show you an example of my own experience. Look at the picture of me as a Communication Manager in an industry I did not like
I'm trying to be aggressive, even if the day I took that picture, all I felt was misery. But I thought I had to look like this on Linkedin. No way. Look at the one I have now, which feels warm to me, and speak to my coaching clients. Again, up for interpretation, but at least I see myself here.
I hope this helps you. I'm here, find your way and throw the mask. I'm there holding your hand!