About edited posts: I’m putting selected posts through another iteration. Some need tweaks to the tone, some need more sentences in active voice, some could use a more substantial rewrite to better support their main ideas, and some just need better proofreading. Okay, they all need better proofreading.
About this post: I needed to better demonstrate how the job lessons pertain to tech comm. Additionally, I made some edits to make the post more appropriate as something that’s available from my LinkedIn profile. The edited post is available here.
It used to be that the resume articles I read were almost unanimous in advising against the multi-page resume. That may have been partly because I was focused on materials for less experienced workers, but if I’m not mistaken it has become less taboo to break into the second page. Still, until now I have been an entry-level or near entry-level job seeker, and I’ve felt that I ought to keep myself to one page. That plus the desire to leave out some shorter or irrelevant job stints in my younger years led me to leave some things off my resume.
Currently, my resume starts with my current position, then talks about my STC involvement, then my previous position as a bartender, partly to bridge back to job coaching (think task analysis) experience. It stops there. But, I think some of the positions before that were formative, too.
I have had two extended stints doing phone surveys; “market research.” I’ve also done a couple of very short, tortuous forays into phone sales. This is probably my most important undeclared skill—talking to customers on the phone. I’m not always the smoothest, but I have a decent voice and I know the important stuff. No negative phrasing, no yes-or-no questions, smile, assume a positive response and move forward with your reason for calling.
There are also basic courtesies for dealing with anyone on the phone, client or no; what I tend to think of as “phone usability.” Ask if they have time to talk, leave short messages, leave your number every time, make a list of every thing you have to ask before you call.
The most important part might be knowing when to call. At my office job in a large company, I think phone calls are for more complex issues, or things too urgent to wait for an email response, or for when an email string shows signs of getting sour. Some teams prefer the phone even without these considerations, but I think it can be an unnecessary interruption. Let people add less urgent requests to their list as they come in via email.
Day Care Teacher
I was a teacher for a group of three and four-year-olds for a couple of months before I became a job coach. Later I helped a woman find a job as a day care teacher. Between those two experiences, I attended quite a few trainings on how to entertain, redirect, and encourage kids. This stuff applies to dealing with absolutely everyone, and I still practice it today. And I do mean practice.
I also learned that day care teachers are wildly underpaid. It’s actually kind of appalling how underpaid they are.
During my first college attempt, after a phone survey job, I was a nanny for a family friend for about six months. I watched the kids after school and a weekend night. I had use of a car to pick them up from school, and I did some light house keeping. The two main things I took away from it was an intimate glimpse into a family (affluent, indulgent, a bit divided) much different than mine had been and a taste of having total trust invested in me really without much cause. It was . . . interesting.
My first job at age 15 was working in the dining room of an assisted living facility. Larger facilities have multiple aids during meals, but I had to serve meals and close the dining room down alone at night. Food service is such a great field for learning hard work and workplace politics—I think I’d recommend it to a kid over retail.
Selling Newspapers, Building Classic Cars
I was at each of these jobs two weeks or less and didn’t bother to give real notice for either one (I was eighteen): a crew of door-to-door newspaper salespeople and building fiberglass bodies for imitation classic cars. Both are terrible jobs. It may be that I am simply a fortunate person (well, I know that’s true, but not sure that it invalidates this insight), but what I learned is not to stay at a terrible job for ridiculous pay. There must be more to life than that.