“Know thyself” is an ancient Greek aphorism inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. And then there is the quote by Lao Tzu: “He who knows other is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”
If the Greeks and Lao Tzu said it, this must be a universal truth that is worth paying attention to.
Yet, these words of wisdom remain universally (in my world of CV/resume and LinkedIn profile writing) unheeded by almost everyone that I encounter.
But trust me: knowing yourself – your talents, skills, the challenges you have overcome and how you have done so, what impact has come about because of your efforts, etc., etc. – is the first indispensable step to writing a stellar CV or LinkedIn profile. Or conducting a convincing interview, for that matter, negotiating salary, and much more.
If you don’t acknowledge your own value, how will you communicate it to anyone else?
Seems really obvious, right?
How to Identify Your Unique Value
However, most people don’t take the time to reflect upon their entire career trajectory, their proudest moments, what each accomplishment says about their skills and passions and the impact (in numbers when possible) that their work has had on an organization, clients or their team.
When I begin to work with a client, I put them to work right away with an extensive questionnaire. It is indeed a lot of work. One more to-do for very busy people with demands at work and at home filling up their agendas. But without exception, everyone who has really sat down to provide detailed answers to my Career Worksheet, has felt a sense of great satisfaction afterwards. “I completely forgot about that project (patented product, award, marketing plan, etc.) and didn’t think it was really that interesting.”
Forget the History of Your Career, Develop Your Career Story
Recalling anecdotes and stories is also really helpful. Stories show the real you in action and avoid ubiquitous, universal claims like “I am a great team player, innovative thinker, great communicator.” It doesn’t mean you can fit an entire “story” onto a CV, but there may be something from this recollection that you can weave into it to show the context of one of your accomplishments and connect with your overall career storytelling.
LinkedIn gives you up to 2,000 characters in the About section and for each position description. So here you would have a chance to bring in an anecdote that at the same time allows you to incorporate keywords organically that your audience uses to search for talent. And those words are also conveying your personal brand. (I’ll write more about weaving your personal brand into your LinkedIn profile in another post.)
That doesn’t mean you have to use every single character in each field on your LinkedIn profile (or that you should; never say more than you have to), but if you have something relevant to say, why not use the space? Not every recruiter who arrives at your profile will want to read 2,000 characters. But the algorithm reads all of it so that the search professional can find you. And once you have their attention, say something worth reading: the value you have to offer them to resolve their needs.
If you haven’t updated your CV or LinkedIn profile yet, don’t even begin worrying about formats, keywords for your headline; if your CV should be one page or two, etc., until you first know yourself: your talents, your skills and the value you contribute.
And if you don’t want to believe me, ask Lao Tzu or the Temple at Delphi.