7 Ways to Get Uncomfortable Writing Your Career Portfolio

By Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

#1: Metaphorically Speaking: Mix Prints | Get Colorful

  • Have you ever revamped a stuffy wardrobe? For example, did your old wardrobe boast perfectly matched colors, solids and prints so that you would not stand out, be offensive or take a risk that someone may disapprove?
  • During your wardrobe revamp, did you dare to differentiate by (gasp!) mixing prints that ‘some’ may say don’t mix well? … or colors that are bold or different or simply aren’t meant to blend?
  • And, as a result, were you pleasantly surprised with the response to your new look? Did you garner positive compliments and remarks that your visual appealing and differentiating wardrobe delighted?
  • Similarly, with today’s career resume communications, you can dare to sprinkle in your differentiating patterns, colors and designs, mixing and matching virtual solids and prints to create distinguishing career snapshots.
  • This may mean adding splashes of color to headlines and other content to set the communication apart; it may also include weaving in meaningful charts or graphs and other design strategies that visually stimulate the reader’s senses while emphasizing your unique value.

#2: Quit worrying about the length of your resume (#Yawn)

#3: Sprinkle Uniqueness in Each Career Profile Presentation

#4: Get Sweaty Unearthing Your Stories

  • Don’t just stick with the traditional Challenge/Action/Result format of expressing your achievements.
  • Saying that you faced a difficult economy but took the extra steps to beat the streets and secure 50% more sales is great, but it’s not always enough to set you apart.
  • Dig deeper; unearth and articulate what it is about YOUR unique way of thinking, influencing, organizing, communicating, leading, strategizing (whatever – this is your story, and these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg). But dig you must, and sometimes this digging makes you uncomfortably sweaty, metaphorically speaking. Do it anyway.

#5: Humbly, Pragmatically, Yet Boldly Brag

  • Be unabashed about bragging about your successes – yet, temper the language so you are tooting your own horn in a way that sells you as the reader’s solution.
  • In other words, don’t be a show off; write in a way that makes the reader feel you care more about their needs than your wants, how you can alleviate their pain. But do it in a way that subtly, yet somewhat boldly, boasts about your achievements!

#6: Keywords Matter, but Intuitively Weave Them In

  • When writing your first resume draft, don’t get caught up in the right keywords just yet, as comfortable as it may seem to put your focus there. Keywords will intuitively be woven in, at the right time.
  • Remember, writing a resume is a layered process, the first layers of which should vet out your raw career material and thoughts.
  • First, concentrate on your story as it relates to your target audience’s ears. Are they are looking for a technology project manager who can work on months-long projects in teams spread across time zones?  Then, think hard and vet out stories that sell you as ‘that’ person. Brainstorm details of those stories (Challenge/Action/Result PLUS the unique ways you perform your actions —  your talents that interject themselves during these action steps – See #4).

#7: Edit, Edit, Edit!

  • … and then edit (and proof) one more time beyond what you are comfortable with.
  • Well-written career communications requires intellectual rigor and editing effort.


2 Responses to “7 Ways to Get Uncomfortable Writing Your Career Portfolio”

  1. Marianna says:


    This is brilliant!

    “Intuitively weave them in” – this spoke loudly to me, although it’s been my experience that intuition quietly bubbles up from deep within – it’s a inner-knowingness that can’t be forced.

    When are you releasing your book on how to write with pizzazz, perspicuousness and poise?


  2. Marianna,
    Intuition quietly ‘bubbling up’ sounds so soothing and natural. … as you say, not forced. Nicely put!

    LOVE your alliterative closing: pizzazz, perspicuousness and poise! So poetic! … I am flattered by your words! Thank you!


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