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How To Embrace The Most Embarrassing Parts Of Your Resume

Source | FastCompany : By NEIL PASRICHA

Everyone’s resume has a dud or two. Glaring gaps after getting fired. That new boss who reorganized your team—and maybe didn’t like you that much—and gave you a title demotion you’re still embarrassed about. And let’s not forget your short-lived stint as VP of operations at a hypergrowth startup, where your chief responsibility was packing boxes til midnight on Fridays until your partner cried foul.

I feel uncomfortable about parts of my career history, too. I went headfirst into marketing after college before realizing it was an Excel job and I expected a Powerpoint one. I started a restaurant that flopped. I made lateral moves, playing hot potato with my career for about a decade without ever cracking the ranks of leadership.

But what if duds like these aren’t duds? What if they’re simply the points on the zigzagging line that leads to the presently crystallized version of you? Someone with experience, know-how, and the crucial leadership traits of humility and empathy gleaned from working in the battlefields and the trenches—not just commanding the fleets?

Or hey, maybe not. Even so, the ability to take command of your resume—whatever it looks like—and tell a compelling narrative about your career couldn’t be more critical. Selling your experience is a vital skill, whether you’re on a job interview or wooing clients for your solo business. But to do that well, you first need to come to grips with the parts of your job history that you’re least interested in talking about. And that means working your way through these three phases:

  1. Hide
  2. Apologize
  3. Accept

Here’s what that looks like.


For years I was embarrassed that I worked at Walmart. At parties or industry events, I answered the question the same way many of my coworkers did.

Them: So where do you work, anyway?
Me: Retail.
Them: Cool.

Eventually, I started to realize that masking is a form of self-judgment. I wasn’t confident about working at Walmart. I was afraid to mention the company because I was afraid of people’s perceptions: Main-Street-obliterating, fair-wage–damaging, soul-destroying behemoth corrupting society.

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