Monday, May 18, 2015

Clear eyes, full hearts...and building a resume I can be proud of

I read an article recently that struck a chord with me: The Moral Bucket List

If you don't have time (or a desire -- no judgies here) to read it, here's an excerpt that sums up the general idea:
"It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love? 
" moments of rare joy, career ambitions pause, the ego rests, the stumbler looks out at a picnic or dinner or a valley and is overwhelmed by a feeling of limitless gratitude, and an acceptance of the fact that life has treated her much better than she deserves. 
"Those are the people we want to be."
The article basically digs into various virtues that people acquire via good living (humility, dependency, love and following your "calling," to name a few). I slapped the article on Facebook and went on my merry way.

But later, I got to thinking about one idea from that quote above...the part about resume virtues being the skills you bring to the marketplace, and the eulogy virtues primarily manifesting elsewhere in life. I realized, I disagree with that idea.

I've got some resume skills that I can list out....various tasks I can handle, programs I can run, and so on and so forth. But the parts of my resume I'm proudest of are more of what David Brooks (the author of that article) referred to as the eulogy virtues.

Sometimes I think we delineate too much between the skills we bring to our interpersonal relationships and the skills we bring to the conference room table. I prefer those lines to be blurred, or even nonexistent.

It matters less to me that I've figured out this software or that software, and more that I'm being sensitive to the needs of my coworkers, how their days are going, and what we can do to boost each other up. Obviously the technical skills are important too (can't live without 'em), but the soft skills feel just as crucial to me. I want my squishy heart and desire to be a friend to flow into my career as pervasively as how many words I can type per minute or how well I can word my emails. I want my resume to be chock full of eulogy virtues. I want that part of me to shine through in the workplace as much as (if not more than) anything else about me.

I took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test a few years ago as part of a work exercise at a previous job, and the top 5 strengths it pointed out about me had nada to do with any of my technical skills and everything to do with my relational skills (which is funny, because I actually tend to get somewhat people-shy in a professional setting). All the skills that the test ascribed as my greatest strengths centered on empathizing with other people, developing their talents and making sure everyone feels included and involved. Maybe it's no surprise that I ultimately traded in my content writing title for a career switch to HR a couple years after that :)

Those things that I want people to say about me at my funeral someday -- I want my coworkers to be able to say them about me throughout my career, as I move between jobs here and there and have mini eulogies, if you will, along the way. I want to leave that legacy in my career as much as I want to leave it in my personal life. I guess you could say the career is personal, for me.

I don't think we should be afraid to let a soft personality and bleeding heart bleed right into our careers. A lot of things about career life can call for thick skin along the way, but I hope I always find a way to stay soft. Regardless of the hard exteriors we encounter, even in places of influence and power, I'm all for leading with warmth whenever possible.

I do (and will likely) spend a higher percentage of my adult life working than doing anything else -- why not live the kind of resume that can double as a eulogy I'd be proud of someday? Why not couple my interpersonal ambitions with my career ambitions? Why NOT bring a warm heart to the marketplace?

(Regardless, I think Brooks' article is fantastic -- I just prefer to read it while thinking about applying those eulogy virtues to my 9 to 5/6/7/etc. as much as anywhere else.)

And now a picture that's super relevant because I took it with some of the office decor at work, and because Buffy can be an inspiration to us all, amen:

p.s. 10 points to Gryffindor if you caught the reference in this post's title!


Amber said...

This is deffo how I feel about life and work! I've had hardly any work experience but I know I am super keen and as my friends say 'wise' and a good listener :) I like meeting new people, and hearing their stories, I don't wanna be boring at work!

Chantel said...

Love this post! And I totally see that in your - all your strengthsfinder results - you DO make people feel so special, and you're inclusive, and empathetic. Seriously, I totally agree - those should all flow through to the work credentials as one big package! I'd so much rather work with someone who's a people person but doesn't know one program from the next versus someone who knows everything and is a total roach!!

Larsy said...

EXACTLY. Amen to allll you said, bahookster. During the first couple career years for me, I was the quiet, hard-working, "just leave me alone over here so I can get my work done perfectly" employee. Sure, I got a paycheck and my bosses loved my work, but I got zero personal growth/fulfillment and missed out on opportunities to make a difference in co-workers' lives and let them influence me too.

Once I transitioned into my current position, I decided that I was going to be my usual out-going, friendly, chatty self at work - even though it may not read "professional" (especially as a woman, who are expected to be extra-businessy at work to prove they belong)(pfffft).

I was surprised to find I could accomplish A TON more and be WAYYY more useful to my boss this way. By developing genuine friendships and interacting positively and full-of-personality with everyone (even in stuffy executive board meetings), everyone goes out of their way to help when I have a big deadline or project. I'm always the one my dept sends to talk to the head honchos when a touchy issue arises, because I've taken the time to draw out their friendly, kind side - even though most only see the strict, tough business side.

Anywho. Too much rambling on my lunch break. To sum up: eulogy virtues are far more influential than resume virtues, even in the workplace! Yes yes, it's nice to have skills and be respected on a certain level for being competent -- but you can make up a HUGE deficit by being genuine and caring about people.

FWIL Sentimental Blog Content said...

You basically just summed up every leadership/HR class in my MBA- SLOW CLAP! Wait, that felt yelly, let's try that again....

And I do think women in particular can get terrible leader/manager reputation because they work so hard to divide the two and forget everyone likes the people who are human, who have a heart, and who they relate with.

emi said...

haha so much happening here that i love...especially YOU!