Reframing your work experience: Reflection tips from a Guild coach

I’ve been thinking a lot about skills assessment recently. As a coach here at Guild, I talk to students about their career goals for the future, which naturally leads us to reflect on the past.

Let’s say you’re a merchandising associate and before working in retail you spent six years as a massage therapist. When it comes to resume building, it may be difficult to see how your years spent as a masseuse or in retail could be relevant when applying for other positions in different industries. 

Oftentimes, coaches talk through folks’ education experience, time in the workforce, and professional and military training to assess all of the skills someone may have in order to pull apart what comes naturally and where gaps may exist. We ultimately want to provide suggestions for programs that could be worthwhile to add to one’s toolbelt, whether that be for professional development or personal achievement. 

To carry on with our example, the skills required to be a massage therapist are not only physical, but there are also foundational business management skills at play. You have to build a client base, manage your books, and coordinate schedules. Regardless of how small or large that business may be, those skills are relevant, practical, and, if well-framed, can translate to different jobs. 

A couple of reflection questions I’ve given to students as a homework assignment:

  • Write down all the positions you’ve ever held.
  • Are there any common denominators of skills between those roles?
  • Which part of your current role do you feel comes naturally?
  • What parts of your job could you do without? 
  • Do you need to develop more soft skills or hard skills?
  • What are some topics you’d be interested in learning more about?

What’s great about a short-term certificate is that folks can get the niche knowledge they need to potentially make a career jump and then think about bundling all their education and work experience when applying for a degree.

While there are so many routes one can take in using their education benefits, I think it’s important to reflect backward in order to get closer to ideal positions for the future. As coaches, we’re excited to have those conversations to help students take advantage of employers’ education benefits!

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Written by Ashley Mathews
Guild Coach

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