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A weekend painting lesson and resume writing

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

Have you ever had an experience when doing a regular activity gives you insight(s) to work with another regular activity? For those who said 'Yes', read-on - for you will understand exactly what I am saying. For those who said 'No', read-on - for you will develop a new understanding of transferring knowledge from one experience of your life to many others. The following is my experience of being inspired by a painting lesson to write better resumes.

I was at the National Women's Show with a friend and we had enrolled for a painting workshop by Yaymaker #makeyayallday. Now I have zero or close to zero interest, inclination and talent in the finer arts field. The last time I had painted anything was in grade 9, which is over 15 years ago (stop right there... this information is not for you to start guessing my age, but to show you that it's been a long time). But I was enthused to try to do something new, or different in a long time.

On reaching the workshop booth, we were welcomed by John who showed us to a table where he had blank canvas and paintbrushes ready for us. He then gave us a plate of paint with only 4 colours - black, blue, red and white, and then hung a breathtaking piece of art right on the top in front of the class indicating what we were going to paint. I and my friend looked at each other and realized the same thought crossing our minds - "That's impossible!" But we were there for the novelty so we decided to follow John's instructions and paint.

The following are some parallels that I drew from painting to resume writing:

1. Have a goal: One of the first things that John did was to hang the final painting in front of the class so that each of us knew what we were going to paint in the workshop. Similarly, while writing a resume, it is essential to know the outcome of the resume. What job is it aiming for? What skills does it need to highlight? What experience(s) would be most relevant? 

2. Listen and follow: Instead of thinking, imagining, guessing or wondering how I should paint, I simply listened to John's instructions and followed them as closely as I could. I was there to learn from the expert. It would make no sense to guess how I should paint when John had already put the time and effort in developing his skills to paint and to teach how to paint. Listen to your career coach's instructions to write the resume. S/he has already put the time and years of experience in developing the skills to make the best resumes, all you need to do is listen and follow.

3. Look around for inspiration: To make it more fun, John would pick up a few paintings of our co-participants and hold it for us like Rafiki holding up little Simba #disney #thelionking. He would take it around saying, "Look here and take whatever you like." The idea was to get inspired by each other's work and also develop insights on what would help succeed. While writing resumes, it is good to look at the available samples for inspiration. However, do remember that copying everything to the letter counts for plagiarism.

4. Art cannot be perfect: "It doesn't have to look exactly like what I am painting." John would chant as he would walk around with his canvas. The objective of the workshop was to help us understand painting basics - the brush strokes and colour combinations that would help us paint, but not dictate our uniqueness in making the final painting. Resume-writing is also an art. Once you know your resume-writing basics, the 'Letter-size' page is your canvas. Create YOUR unique way of showcasing YOUR professional experience.

After an hour's labour, I had finished my painting and I was delighted. There were two reasons for my joy. Firstly, I was happy that I had completed an activity that I had zero or close to zero interest, inclination and talent. Secondly, I was happy not because my painting was the best or better than the others in the studio. I was happy because it was my painting, and it will always be a reminder to me that I can do anything.

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