Your Kitchen-Sink Resume
If you've never heard the term, it refers to keeping "everything but the kitchen sink" that is even remotely job-related, pulled together in a single resume file.
Too often, I've seen academics apply for jobs, particularly those outside academia, and neglect to mention critical skills and abilities they have. Skills and abilities they have simply forgotten because they don't show up on their transcript(s) or in the most recent resume they're using as a model.
Even more important, most of the academics I know are curious beings and they tend to develop extraordinarily long lists of skills, abilities, and large bodies of knowledge. Because they have such a wide range of interests (or exceedingly deep interests), they don't always notice how important those abilities are to other potential jobs, and they often discount them. "Oh, that was just a little project I did," or "That couldn't be important" are comments I've heard often.
So, What Is Included in a Kitchen-Sink Resume?
In addition to including every position you've ever had (full-time, part-time, formal/informal internships, temporary gigs, projects, and contracts), you should include any other experiences that gave you joy, satisfaction, and pride. That includes interests, volunteer/community service, hobbies, vacations, travel, and possibly even family activities. And, of course, don't forget your transcript(s).
It's a resume that is probably never shown to anyone, but it will help keep you organized and less likely to forget your own hard-earned skills that might apply to a job you want (even if the job title isn't obviously related to the name of your degree).
The Kitchen Sink Resume might be organized as a chronological resume, with full descriptions of job duties and work accomplishments, and it may have lists of your skills and abilities, as well as your accumulated education/training, and your presentations and publications. Or it could be organized around your interests or projects.
Why Go To All This Effort?
This all-inclusiveness is to provide you with a central collection of all the career-related information you may ever need in a single over-large resume. It is very unlikely that you'll show all of that information to any employer, but you will be able to pick and choose what is appropriate for any future job opportunity.
You collect and capture all of this information because, in addition to remembering over time, you may gain greater career perspective. Perhaps you'll notice that a very high proportion of your most satisfying activities involved writing, or maybe it was tossing ideas around, or maybe it was working under stressful conditions or whatever you lost track of time while doing it. That kind of insight may help lead you to more satisfying kinds of work.
As you engage in that process, you'll be more able to analyze your own preferred skills and work preferences. You'll be able to more fully articulate your strengths and transferable skills, and you can better explain to employers how it is that the name of your degree is not a sufficient indicator of your skills and abilities.
The beauty of keeping that kind of detailed information on hand (and continuously updated) is that you can quickly produce a tightly focused resume to apply for a job even when you have a short deadline. All the information you need will be available, especially if you have kept descriptions of your job responsibilities, accomplishments and lists of accumulated skills/abilities.
Another reason to keep a current Kitchen Sink Resume relates to your potential for applying for desirable federal jobs. You may be aware that any job requiring security clearances will require you to supply the nitty-gritty details of all jobs you've ever had, including:
- exact dates of your employment
- name/address of the employer
- your direct manager
- manager's phone and email
- employer's Website
These days, that level of detail in employment information is necessary for most federal jobs, and now for many state, county, and municipal jobs, even if you know the manager is no longer there, or the employer was bought out by another company, or went bust.
An important element of tightly focused resumes involves matching your keywords to those in the job description (industry vocabulary). Having a complete description of your past experience handy offers a wider choice of word matches and gives you a greater chance of getting your focused resume through the job-application keyword filters. If you keep files of earlier focused resumes, you'll have an even greater selection of word matches to use in building future resumes.
6. Interview Preparation.
If you expand this "resume" file to include actual examples of your good work, you can call it a career portfolio. The addition of actual writing samples, of posters about your presentations or class listings, and so on, can give evidence of your skills, abilities and knowledge that you can take with you to job interviews, to demonstrate how your past experiences will help you to do great work in the job you're interviewing for.
If you ever reach a career pinnacle that allows you the opportunity to have your resume written by a professional resume writer, this collection of information will be worth more than whatever you pay for it. The resume writer will have every bit of information needed to quickly develop a dynamite resume for you.
A lifelong collection of your skills, abilities, and accomplishments can be a great attitude adjuster when you're down on yourself.
You say, "But a resume like that could be 20 pages long and a career portfolio could take up boxes of stuff!" Yes, that's true, but so much of what we produce these days either is already (or can be) converted into electronic files. Those who retain no paper files, or live in fear of losing electronic files on a computer, could store them on free websites. (For example, Google and Microsoft offer various kinds of free electronic storage and there are hundreds of free-storage websites based on wiki platforms.)
Yes, it's a lot of work initially, but if you have "everything but the kitchen sink" in a resume file, you'll be able to quickly customize a targeted resume, complete with all of your relevant skills and experience, when you find that next great job opportunity.
© Copyright, 2010, Kate Duttro. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.
Job-Hunt's Academic Careers expert Kate Duttro is a career strategist, coach, and instigator. She writes the Career Change for Academics Blog, for current and recovering academics, and other smart cookies. For more than 10 years, she has provided career services at the University of Washington, where she has counseled, taught classes and workshops, and dug out information for thousands of undergrads, grad students, post docs and alumni in all phases of career development. Holding several degrees, including a PhD in anthropology, Kate has also earned many professional certifications in the field of career coaching.