Always start analog
As many of you know, I've recently ended 14 years of software consulting in New Zealand. This inevitably led to looking for new opportunities overseas and having to update my CV.
I really struggled with writing about my own work experiences. This wasn't because I didn't have anywhere to start from or because I didn't remember what I had done (If this is the case with you, I recommend you the Manager Tools tips for keeping your CV up to date): It was because I jumped straight into my laptop and a word processor.
This is one of the most common traps that everyone (including myself) falls into when having to write an article, update a CV, put a presentation together or respond to a complicated email. Not only because it's full of the noise of your email client and social media, but also because our brains represent ideas in a more unstructured way. If you are curious about this, Garr Reynolds has a whole chapter about it in one of my favourite books, Presentation Zen.
So once you find your safe analog medium, you can use this guide to write anything:
- What's the ultimate goal of what you are writing? I needed to explain that in my career I had broad experience in a lot of aspects of the IT services business, not just technical or just management
- Who is your audience and how will it be affected or changed? I ultimately wanted the person reading my CV to give me the right job, and at the same time, be curious enough about what I'm saying to give me a call or have a coffee with me
- Tell a story. My journey through the workforce has been anything but boring, so I told a story about that.
- Constrain yourself. This was as important as going analog. I gave myself a hard deadline and forced myself to stick to the draft outline I had. The "last 20%" can be hard to tame.
Next time you don't know where to start, grab a pen and paper. Start doodling.