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Vassilena Valchanova
A marketing specialist with a passion for digital. Loves finding efficient ways for brands and communities to grow together. Also, a cat-lover, cappuccino addict, early riser and theatre enthusiast.
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Resume Advice
How to use volunteer experience to make your resume stand out

With ten years of experience in my professional field, I’m not lacking things to include on my resume. But there’s one thing I never leave out – my volunteer work.Why’d someone leave it out?More often than not, the conversation with potential recruiters veers off in the direction of charity work. That’s why I am always dumbfounded when I see people leaving their pro bono work off their applications.It’s simple, including a section devoted to volunteer activities on your resume not only showcases your skills and interests in front of possible employers but also reinforces your candidature especially if you have little to no work experience. That said, let’s see where exactly to list your volunteering experience and how to make your resume stand out.Should you put volunteer work on your resume? It’s unpaid after all…There’s a myth around resume building that says that unpaid work doesn’t belong on a resume. But if you can include your grad school internship, who’s to say you shouldn’t put in your volunteer work? Even if it’s not paid, your community service is as valuable as paid work.It shows you’re proactive and ready to give back to society without waiting for any monetary compensation. The bottom line is; always put volunteer experience on your resume.Does volunteering count as work experience?It depends. It could count as work experience, as long as the knowledge and skills you acquired and developed during your community service somewhat align with the responsibilities of the job you are after.But where to list your volunteer work? What section would it fit best in?Where to put volunteering on your resumeIf it’s tied to the job offer, or if you lack paid work experience, you can add it to your resume work experience section. If it’s not related, or you’ve tons of paid, relevant work experience, consider listing your volunteer activities in a separate section of your resume.I’d argue that having an extensive working background shouldn’t even remotely relegate the opportunity of including volunteer experience on your CV, but I’ll leave the rant for another day. Adding it, along with the essential resume prerequisites, can only help your resume stand out. Here’s why…Why volunteering resumes do stand outIt’s not just a personal opinion, but one backed by data. According to Deloitte, recruiters are drawn to your volunteer work. 82% of hiring professionals prefer applicants with volunteer experience.Another survey, this time by LinkedIn, found that 20% of the hiring managers in the U.S. admit that volunteer work tipped the balance in favor of the candidate who had it included in their resume.Recruiters believe unpaid work builds leadership and communication skills, shaping a strong character. What’s more, they love this kind of work so much they’re often willing to overlook some resume flaws (not that there’d be any, if you use Enhancv, right?). So your volunteer work might very well compensate for lack of work experience or poor grades in university.And yet, only one in three job seekers mention any unpaid volunteer experience they’ve had. Which, come to think about it, is good news for you. Including your community service work will help you stand out from all the other CVs and applicants out there. Let’s see how to do it properly.How to put volunteering work on your resume and make it really countI may have led you off by presenting charity work as the silver bullet to recruiters’ hearts. But the impact will be more significant if you follow a few key points. Here’s how to list volunteering on your resume:Add relevant volunteer experience in your professional work experience section. If it’s non-relevant, or if you have extensive paid experience, list it in a separate section of your resume.Point out if and how your duties were tied to your career. Share achievements and show what you’ve learned.Be extensive and precise. By pinpointing specific results of your work, you’ll drive the conversation to the personal traits that helped you achieve this.As humans we learn best by examples, so to get a grasp of the above bullets, here is the volunteering section on Avery’s resume:An example of volunteer experience on a resume:AVERY LECLERCQTalent Manager @ Everybody’s got talent AssociationThe Talent Manager is in charge of recruiting, training new members of the committee, helping current members to evolve within the organization, and ensuring the committee is effective.Recruited more than 30 members for less than two years. As of today, more than 90% of them are within the organization.Led and mentored 12 committee members.Secured 5 Gold sponsors for the XYZ charity marathon in 2019.Planned and organized 27 department-wide events.Want to create your own volunteer resume? Then why not look into Enhancv resume volunteer examples and build your resume in just a few minutes?With the Enhancv resume builder, you can craft a resume that blows all other applicants out of the water. From design options to bullet and section suggestions and content writing tips, we’re here to help you land your dream job!What does volunteering say about you?A resume with volunteer experience tells the person hiring a lot. It tells them that:You’re proactive. Not waiting for work to come to you, instead, you start working whenever the opportunity arises. Few people are willing to do stuff that’s unpaid, so pat yourself on the back for taking on a challenge.You’re driven by impact. Money is clearly not a driver in this project. You end up sacrificing free time and personal resources to do a good deed. But it’s worth it if you see a result and shape the world around you.You give back to your community. You feel it’s important to drive change and give back.You have more skills than just role-related ones. Volunteer workers don’t strive because of their professional skills. To persist, they need ambition and personal drive, strength to drive change. There’s a lot to make you stand out – but just putting in the word “volunteer” in your resume doesn’t pay. You should tie in your unpaid work to the broader career picture you want to paint.It’s never too late to startThe cool thing is volunteer work can be of tremendous value to you, especially if you don’t have much experience in your desired field. It’s much easier to propose unpaid help in your field than jump through hoops to secure an internship at a high profile company. As a bonus, you’ll usually have much more hands-on work entrusted to you and the experience will sit better with recruiters.If you’d like to see a real example of a stunning resume that uses volunteer experience effectively, check out Enhancv top volunteer resume examples for 2020.

Vassilena Valchanova
Sep 8, 2022 5 min read
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Career Growth
Creating a Professional Development Plan – a Guide Based on Experience

Creating a professional development plan is about far more than just checking off a list of goals. Sure, it’s a good way to move your career forward, but it’s also about bringing you purpose and peace of mind. Today, with a year and a half of hindsight, I’m bringing you my story and all of the hard-won lessons that came with it. Unemployed for the first time in 10 years… I woke up and immediately felt a profound sense of confusion. It was the first day that I was unemployed. It felt weird even thinking about that word in relation to myself. I started working full-time when I was in my first year of university and had spent precisely 10 years with no employment gap. This was the first time when I didn’t have anything lined up after quitting my previous position. I felt like I had no direction. Which was strange, but at the same time amazing. It gave me so much freedom! I was looking forward to shopping around, checking what the job market has to offer, and figuring out my priorities. Today, I want to share some of the things I did – and some of the things I should’ve done – when planning my next career move. I hope this guide helps you, no matter if you’re looking for the right next step, a big career change or something that finally makes you happy. Stage 1: Find your professional development and personal development directions When I was planning my last career change, I already knew marketing was my field. But even in this case, I had the option to choose from many different directions. Did I still want to go in a company marketing team? How about an agency? What about freelance? Just as the famous jam experiment suggests, when presented with too many options choosing becomes that much harder. I needed a system. And any good system for professional development planning should look at your personal development, as well. So the next exercises look at life and all its domains holistically. Direction planning by looking back Human beings are bad predictors of the future. But then again, we’re good at remembering our past and this is also a great starting point. So you can start by looking at your past experiences and your current situation to get some patterns out. Health/Work/Play/Love Dashboard An idea stolen from a book is the dashboard presented in Designing Your Life. It’s a cleaner version of the life domains and it shows clearly what’s lacking in your life. Here’s my example. You can find the template on the book’s website. It’s a very quick exercise if you do it the way it’s intended – but if you put things into perspective, extend the period of looking forward from 2 weeks to 2 months or half a year, you’d get a different challenge completely. Workview and Lifeview If you need to dive deeper than creating the dashboard, you might venture into creating a full Workview and Lifeview. This is a more detailed account of how different areas of your life play together and what’s their significance. Some questions you might want to answer: Workview: Why work? What’s work for? What does work mean? How does it relate to the individual, others, society? What defined good or worthwhile work? What does money have to do with it? What do experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with it? Lifeview: Why are we here? What is the meaning or purpose of life? What is the relationship between the individual and others? Where do family, country, and the rest of the world fit in? What is good, and what is evil? Is there a higher power, God, or something transcendent and if so, what impact does this have on your life? What is the role of joy, sorrow, justice, injustice, love, peace, and strife in life? Don’t overcomplicate things – each of these two exercises should take about 30 minutes and result in a text of 250 words or less. Looking at the two, it should be easier to identify where the two views complement each other, where they clash and if/how one of them drives the other. Write a Good Time Journal Another way of understanding what’s important is looking back. What are the activities you’ve done over the last day or the last week? Write them down and rank them based on three criteria: Engagement: how interesting was the activity? How present you felt while doing it? Energy: did it energize you or did it leave you in need of a break? Flow: did you achieve that state of flow, where you don’t feel time passing, as you’re completely immersed in the activity? Here’s an example. Although I feel engaged when drafting marketing copy, it’s a very draining activity for me and halfway through I feel like I need to rest and recharge. But when analyzing ad campaign performance, I can go on for hours and forget about lunch (or, ahem, bathroom breaks). If you look back at a couple of weeks’ worth of activities, you’ll get a clear sense of what works for you and what doesn’t. Direction planning by looking forward By now, you’ve probably gotten a good idea about where you stand, so now it’s time to look at where you want to go. I first saw these exercises in Jenny Blake’s book Pivot, which was an important part of my professional development journey. Your ideal day Turns out extracting what you want in life is easier when going into specifics. Think about your ideal day. Say it’s 3 years from now: What do you think of first thing in the morning? What’s the purpose you get out of bed? How is your day structured? How does your workspace look? What do you do there? How much time do you spend with your close ones? What gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day? What energizes you and what drains your energy? You may want to go and answer each question or you might want to craft a full story – here’s Jenny Blake’s Ideal Day Mad Lib template, just copy and fill in! Values Mind Mapping Now give that story a thorough read through and extract any common topics you see. Are you focused on family or is travel crazy important for you? You can easily create a mind map of your values – it’s a clean and visual way of setting your priorities. I am not a big fan of mind maps, however, this is a rare situation where I find them useful. Here’s an example of my mind map: Planning by Life Domains Some people find mind mapping difficult, as they simply don’t know where to start. It’s true – the process is messy and lacks structure. If you feel like going in with some help, you can plan through what Michael Hyatt calls the 10 Life Domains. The full list includes: Intellectual Emotional Physical Spiritual Marital Parental Social Financial Vocational (career-related and professional) Avocational (hobbies and interests) I personally find these overwhelming and I have combined a few together – e.g. Emotional and Spiritual, Intellectual and Vocational. But it’s a nice comprehensive list that will point you towards all key areas of your life. So I’d include as many categories as I need, but not more! Stage 2: Inventory checking – professional skills and personal strengths By now you’ve taken the map, you spread it out and marked point A, your current position and point B, your desired state. But how do you get there? Do you have a car, a boat, or a helicopter? Time to check your inventory. Mapping your strengths After having a clear picture in my head of what I wanted, I checked that against my strengths. This is important for 3 key reasons: Reality check: My dream future might be that of an astronaut, but at 30 and with no STEM background it will remain a dream. Aiming high is good. Aiming too high is simply a waste of time. Development planning: Say you’re 30% on the road to your ideal future. Knowing this gives you a sense of progress and a way to plan what you need to do to get to 60%, 80%, 90%. Work satisfaction: Turns out when you get to use your key strengths at work, you feel more accomplished and engaged. So knowing what your strengths are and sculpting your work around them has long-term benefits. There are many surveys that can help you get to know yourself better. A popular one is the Myers Briggs test, but I find it highly dependant on my mood and the time of taking it. I’ve done StrengthFinder 2.0 2 times already. The information in it is much more stable and useful, especially when talking about work-related strengths. For a free alternative, you can check the VIA character strengths (based on Dr. Martin Seligman’s work). It is geared towards personal as well as professional strengths. Once you find out your strengths, take a close look at the forward-looking exercises you’ve done. Do you get to use all your strengths in your ideal future? Do any tweaks and start planning how to get where you want to be. Listing your assets No development journey happens in a bubble. There probably are people you can rely on, connections you can leverage, learning opportunities to take. You can map those out by using Jenny Blake’s Opportunity Grid, which has three categories: Who are the people you can learn from or get inspired by? What are the skills you want to develop and the ones that will be most useful? What are the projects you can pursue in your development? Personal SWOT analysis After so much thinking and checking, you’d have an overwhelming amount of information, so it’s time to summarize in the shape of a personal SWOT analysis. The concept is the same as the popular corporate/brand SWOT – listing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you need to be aware of. Here’s how those apply to personal development. Strengths: What am I good at? What areas do I pick up easily? Any qualifications I can make use of? What are my morals and values? Weaknesses: What do I still need to learn? What work areas drain my energy? What do I have to get better at? Opportunities: What projects can I pick up? What contacts can I use? What new skills in my industry can I learn? Threats: Are there key skills others in my industry have that I don’t? What parts of my job am I not really proud of? How does technology affect my job? Having all of this information codified gives you a good starting point for actually making a plan. Stage 3: Roadmap development So here we are, the meat of it. When I was doing my development plan, I didn’t spend nearly enough time on the first two stages, so I wanted to give you a bunch of options here. Going forward, it’s time to look at different roads to take. Puzzle building This is the actual approach I took when reviewing new opportunities. I had my current state, my point A, and my idea of a great future, point B. I didn’t plan the whole process going to point B but treated my next step as a piece of a puzzle between the two. The criteria then got really simple: Does that opportunity fit my strengths and does it build on what I’m good at? So does the puzzle piece connect nicely with point A? Does it get me closer to my desired future? Does the puzzle piece go closer to the point B state or does it veer off in another direction? I had never considered so many options: startups, big companies, digital agencies, freelance work, part-time… But I didn’t feel overwhelmed anymore, as I could easily single out the viable opportunities from the noise. Alternative Odyssey Plan A much more structured approach that you can take is looking at the big picture even before going into opportunities evaluation. I found this interesting approach in Designing Your Life and would’ve really liked to test it out. The exercise goes, as follows: Look at your Good Time Journal and pick one energizing, one engaging and one flow activity. Build a mind map for each creating branches of related activities in at least 3 degrees out. Look at the outer ring, pick 3 things and create a job description based on them. Then build a 5-year (or 3-year) plan of how this “job” might develop. Rank it based on the resources needed, your liking of the plan, your confidence in succeeding, the plan’s coherence. Jot down the key questions that the plan depends on. Here’s a look at an Odyssey plan example. I created it for a fictional situation where I’d like to invest time in empowering women through branding. It’s super basic, but it’s just an illustration of what you can work on. Again, the template can be found on the book’s website. Getting ideas through coffee Of course, those alternative plans are an equivalent to looking at a crystal ball – it’d be great if it works, but it really doesn’t. To get back to reality, you might want to check with someone “living the dream”. Access to people currently in your dream job can be surprisingly easy with the availability of professional networks and online calls. So do your research, buy that person a coffee (real or virtual) and talk to them about their career and their day to day work. What you’d want to get from these conversations is answers to two questions: Is this really what you’re looking for? Does the reality match your dreams? If yes, what is the way to get there? It might feel awkward at first, but people like helping others and they certainly love talking about themselves. So you will get them sharing in no time. A great example of that strategy can be found on Fifty Coffees. A New Yorker set on a project to find her next adventure… by talking to people! She did just 14, though, before getting a job for Esther Perel, a famous relationship expert. Still, the interviews are quite interesting. They illustrate well what doors can open to you over coffee. Stage 4: Start testing By this point, you’d probably have a clearer idea of what the right next step is. Hopefully, you wouldn’t have had those coffees all at ones, as you’d be too jittery and that will stop you from the next important step – giving those cool ideas a go. In Pivot Jenny Blake calls this stage “Pilot”, and the authors of Designing Your Lifetalk about “prototyping”. In any case, think of it as a low effort way to dip your toe into the water. There are three benefits here: It helps you get a clearer picture of what working in this new field full time would look like; It gives you some initial experience, new contacts, and maybe even a reputation that you can then use to your advantage; It lowers the risk for you in financial and any other way. This stage can take a lot of different shapes, but the important thing is that it doesn’t take you more than 10-20% of your time and effort so that you can do it parallel to a current job you have. Some ideas in that direction would be volunteer work, doing part-time projects for friends, even doing an internship with a company. Test, test, and test again. Once you find something that sticks, you’d be at the perfect position of jumping on that opportunity. If you are actually planning to go into marketing, here’s a dedicated post on planning a marketing career. How my career planning went I first opened up Pivot on a three-hour flight headed to Madrid for a much needed long weekend with my partner. It was tough to not know what I’ll be doing once back, but I was determined to use the upcoming months well to understand what I really want. My professional development journey started on that plane to Madrid and ended a month and a half later. It took long hours of priority building, 20+ meetings with friends and work acquaintances, five or more actual job offers. I didn’t go with the highest bidder for my marketing skills. I went with something more important. For the first time, I was choosing a company based on the team and the personal skills of the founders. And it’s something that I didn’t really know I was looking for before doing some personal development planning. A year and a half later, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been at a company. I love Enhancv and I’m still confident this was the right choice. Hope you find the right choice, as well. Let me know how I can help along the way!

Vassilena Valchanova
Sep 8, 2022 13 min read
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Career Growth
Choosing a Marketing Career Path

Part of what drives us at Enhancv is knowing that our resumes help people do something we’ve all done many times: change careers. Of course, every career change is different, but there’s something to be learned in each one. This is my story of how I came to work in marketing at Enhancv.A career change begins with a question“What does a PR person actually do,” I asked.Without knowing it at the time, this was the first step of my career in marketing. The idea came to me largely by chance and my personal career development was as haphazard as a ball’s journey in a pinball machine. It’s crazy to think that 11 years later, I’m still pursuing the same passion for bringing brands and customers closer together.As the great Steve Jobs said, sometimes you can only connect the dots looking back. So I’ll share with you how I got into marketing and how you (unlike me) can have a well thought out career journey.Make sure a marketing career path is right for youFor me, it all started with a random conversation. One of my friends, a high-school senior, was planning to do PR in university. It sounded cool – I’d be able to talk to interesting people, appear at events, put my writing skills to work. And I wouldn’t have to deal with math because yuck, math! (That last one didn’t turn out the way I planned.) So I decided I’d study the same.In retrospect, basing such a decision on a single talk with someone who still doesn’t even study the profession is not smart. Today, I’d do it differently. I’d talk to people. I’d try to find someone in the same field, buy them a coffee and talk. Hell, I might buy fifty coffees. (I’d, too, be happy to answer what digital marketing looks like nowadays, so drop me a line.)Can you imagine yourself in the shoes of the person you talked to? And more importantly, do you see yourself being happy in the shoes of the person you’ve talked to?To answer these questions, you need to be sure what are your values and your ideal career plan. There’s a long list of exercises about professional development planningthat will help you make sure the marketing field is something you want to get into.I won’t go into the details of how to make the final decision – you’re fully equipped to do it on your own. But if marketing is your thing, it’s now time to double down on knowledge and experience building.Pinpoint your nicheI started off my communications career in event management. To be frank, this was the first offer I got when I was a junior in university, so I didn’t really give it much thought – hey, it’s experience, right?Several years later, I realized event management is not my field. The stress of it all, the constant phone calls and the lost weekends were not something that balances itself out with the thrill of an actual event gone well. At least for me – I know great professionals who thrive in such an environment.I’d say I could’ve figured it out earlier. But you can only connect the dots… yeah, you knowMy point is, marketing is a big-big country. There’s brand management, corporate communications, there’s promotion development, there’s content, there’s community management, product marketing… So much to try!To get off to a flying start, think about your core interests and how they overlap with different marketing sub-fields. I really mean it! Create a list of your strengths and interests and compare them against the different marketing domains. Once you have everything in writing, it’s easier to compare:Based off on that, pinpoint what niche you might be interested in and start there.Plan how to become a T-shaped professionalThinking about so many marketing domains is enough to get your head spinning. But fear not! There are only 2 fields you really need to master.Which ones, you ask? That’s a harder question to answer. You have to define them on your own – hopefully, through some value assessment and through some experience.The point is, nobody expects you to know everything. You should have a basic understanding of the core marketing skills, but you should excel only in a few. That’s what we call a T-shaped professional.The T-shaped marketing professional has three degrees of knowledge:Base knowledge: you need to have at least a basic understanding of these fields. They will include the oldies and the goldies like storytelling and behavioral psychology, as well as the new and trendy stuff like UX and HTML.Marketing foundation: you need to have a deeper understanding of these skills, which may include machine learning, analytics, copywriting or statistics. We’re now getting closer to the core marketing skills, but still, are touching the surface.Channel expertise – acquisition and user lifecycle: the first part of skills here is related to tactics that fall squarely in the marketer role like SEO, performance advertising or social media. The second group of skills has to do with the new trend that lets marketers work on the full customer funnel – activation techniques, customer lifecycle management and more.More than marketingAs you already noticed, marketing is more than a way to attract users to our product. It’s also a way of retaining and delighting those users. With the rise of growth marketing, we are expected to work on all parts of the funnel. That’s why Growth Tribe put many different digital skills in the growth marketer’s skills roadmap:A “T” or a “P” or an “M”Many people assume there’s only one true way of developing your marketing skills. But there’s a good point made by Buffer that marketing people will do deep specializations in different fields depending on their role or interests. Here’s an example of what a PR Strategist’s skills framework would look like:And here’s what my profile looks like:Of course, this histogram of skills doesn’t come straight away. After all, you can only connect the dots… you know that already, don’t you?Becoming a T-shaped professional requires experience and time – not only to get that deeper knowledge but also to get a feel for each domain and learn where you thrive and what’s not your cup of tea.Find the right educationIn marketing, you need to learn constantly. The field is developing so fast it’s hard even for experienced professionals to keep track. So education doesn’t only happen at the start of your career anymore.The good news is there are much more options to learn.No matter if I’m a recent grad or someone transitioning into marketing, I’d always dedicate my time to two main directions.Old knowledge that still holds upSocial psychology, influence mechanisms, storytelling, copywriting… All of this is old-old news. But that doesn’t make it less impactful. It gives you a strong foundation. It can actually give you an edge against fancy “growth hackers” who only chase short-term success.As a podcast addict, I’ve listened to hundreds of interviews with high profile marketing professionals. When asked about their favorite books, they always quote some old foundational reads. Examples include Cialdini’s influence, Hopkins’s Scientific Advertising, and Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.Never forget the classics. Otherwise, you risk losing the strategic perspective in a vast sea of new channels, hacks, and experiments.Cutting-edge tacticsIt’s easy to see the digital landscape is developing with lightning speed. It might be harder to comprehend how hard it is to keep ahead of the curve.I’ve been in marketing for more than 10 years now. And every day, my routine consists of listening to 2 marketing podcast shows on my daily commute and going through 50+ marketing articles on blogs, social media, news aggregators.There’s an increasing digital skills gap between what you know now and how quickly the technology landscape is evolving. Here’s a slide from a Growth Tribe presentation that shows pretty clearly what we mean by that:This clearly shows that even if you’re good at “traditional” digital marketing domains like SEO, e-mail marketing, or social media, you now need to get more technical, go into development, machine learning, and more.If you’re ready to learn, here are some of the places I’d recommend starting with:Google’s Digital GarageUdemy’s Marketing coursesGoogle’s Academy for AdsGoogle’s Analytics AcademyFacebook BlueprintHubSpot AcademyThese will give you a head start and also show a potential employer you’re really serious about marketing.The good news is that the skills gap leaves a lot of room for new entrants in the job force – what you know and what you’ve done is more important than what university you went to and how many years of experience you have.The bad news is once you’re on the treadmill, you need to keep running. It doesn’t stop – and the pace is now getting even faster.Welcome to our robot overlords!You’ve already seen I mentioned AI, machine learning, and automation. Let’s first get this out of the way: I’m highly doubtful that the marketing profession will disappear any time soon.Still, as a marketer, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with some AI-specific topics. On the one hand, you need to know how all of this crazy AI stuff works – at least on a general level. Then, you should make sure you have the right complementary skills. You can’t beat AI, so why not work together with it, providing the skills that are still hard to master:Soft skills like customer empathy, semantic nuance, storytelling.Hard skills like data science, discerning between good insights and bad data.My favorite data person Avinash Kaushik has a great piece on marketing career development in the age of AI and automation that will give you additional perspective.Practice is a differentiatorMy early career might’ve happened haphazardly, but the key benefit was that I started working as a marketer at age 19. This gives me a strong advantage – there aren’t many 30-year-olds with 10+ years of professional experience.So the best advice I can give you is: get stuff done!Find an internship – even if it’s unpaid, you’ll gain valuable experience. What’s more, you’ll gain inside knowledge of what that specific marketing field looks like. You’ll also forge some handy connections.Volunteer at a local organization – they are surely understaffed and they will gladly accept help, even if it’s coming from a person with one completed online course behind their back. The best option is to find an organization that does something you’re passionate about – then work is not a chore, but a pleasure.Help friends – in the age of startups, you surely know someone starting a business. Help them out! It’s not just good karma – it will also guarantee you a lot of freedom of execution and breathing room to test new stuff.You may think only paid experience matters, but you’re deeply mistaken. A potential employer will recognize your unpaid efforts as proof of your drive to learn and your proactivity. Those sometimes matter more than the right certificates.Above all else, find your callingI’m keeping this as the last point, but it’s the most important one. Find something that truly makes you happy. We have only about 80,000 working hours in our lives, so you’d better make them count.Make sure you’re following your Workplan and your Lifeplan and you’ve found a position that corresponds with your values. Benefits and higher pay are easy to find, but doing something that matters is rare. To find out what really matters to you, follow the steps I outlined for creating a professional development plan.And don’t forget to have funIf you’re just starting your career in marketing, don’t take it too seriously. If you mess up and take the wrong turn in your career, you will lose some time, but you’ll also learn an invaluable lesson. I’ve been through 7 different positions in 11 years. Still, I don’t think about any one of them as “time lost”. They’ve all helped me learn how to better follow my passion. But, if you’re looking for advice on how to change careers with a resume or just create the best marketing resume possible, we’ve got you covered.Share your journeyIt’s hard to travel alone. So I’d love to hear your journey in marketing – share it in the comments!

Vassilena Valchanova
Sep 8, 2022 10 min read
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Career Growth
Four Steps to Creating a Personal Development Plan

We tend to think about our careers and personal development as one ongoing process – like a river flowing constantly. But if you’re swimming in that river, every so often you need to stop to take a breath. Taking a moment to create a personal development plan is like taking a very deep breath. I’ve been reminded of this a couple of months ago when I broke my constant work cycle of 10 years. Suddenly, I had no current job and no idea what the next one would be. I was so tired of moving straight on to the next thing without rest. So I decided to take a month off, look around, and _actually_ think hard about the next move. Lo and behold, my personal development plan was born. Why you need a personal development plan? Imagine if you asked a contractor to build your new house and they said “we don’t need a plan, we’ll figure it out as we go.” You wouldn’t tolerate that for a second. So why do so many of us go through life that way? Most of the time we harbor aspirations and dreams, yet we rarely stop and think about our future in detail. **A personal development plan helps you know where you’re headed and how to get there, with specifics.** First, this will bring clarity to your thinking and you’ll know exactly where you want to be. What’s more, it will give you peace of mind that you’re going in the right direction daily. Efforts will feel more deliberate and decisions will be easier, as you will have a clear benchmark. I couldn’t agree more. How to build your personal development plan? The process of building your plan can take considerable time. This is completely normal and you shouldn’t rush things. However, it’s a good idea to set a deadline in your mind. After all, tasks are a kind of fluid – they take as much space as you give them. Step 1: Clear out your vision You have to start with the end in mind. To build your personal development plan, look at what’s on the other side. Think about your future life. Choose a timeframe that makes sense for you – if you are still in your 20s, a look at 3 or 5 years from now is enough. The older you get, the longer the planning period you can have. Now, imagine your life in, say, 3 years and go through your imaginary day: * What’s the first thought that passes your mind in the morning? * What’s the reason you get out of bed? * How’s your day structured? * What’s your workplace? What do you do there? * How much time do you spend with friends and family? * What makes you feel accomplished at the end of the day? * What gives you energy moving forward and what drains your energy? In her book [Pivot, author Jenny Blake](https://g.co/kgs/mTYeQC) even suggests you craft a full story – here’s her template for an [Ideal Day Mad Lib.](https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EVQEN6-yx36dIEhyRyvJctIHjWCLT2rBwY-c2JYP-tE/edit) Now take one step back and review. What are the areas that will make you feel successful? This will help you determine your values. Map them out – you can use anything, from a note-taking app to a blank sheet of paper, from a simple bullet list to a fancy visual board. The best way this works for me is by using a mind map with several main nodes for each of the areas in your life. Some people prefer to keep that simple, with 2-3 nodes for professional, personal and social fields. Others go in more details – the framework blogger [Michael Hyatt](https://michaelhyatt.com/welcome/) uses has 10 life domains: 1. Intellectual 2. Emotional 3. Physical 4. Spiritual 5. Marital 6. Parental 7. Social 8. Financial 9. Vocational (career-related and professional) 10. Avocational (hobbies and interests) I believe the map works best with 5-6 categories and you can put there everything you want to – if you feel like travel is a key field for your development, best to have it there. After you have the key areas as main nodes, complete your mind map by including several sub-nodes that will make the field a success. The end result will give you a broad sense of what areas you should focus on. Step 2: Outline your strengths and areas for improvement You’ve put down a pin on where you want to go – now let’s see what are the means of going forward. First, think about what you already have going for you – what are the [strengths and skills](https://enhancv.com/resume-skills/) that are already relevant to your dream? Maybe you want to move into a new work field – then your natural networking skills will help you get to know the industry more quicker. Then, make a list of skills you need to develop and projects you can start working on to move you closer to your goals. Think about the people you can contact and who can help you along the way. At this point you don’t have to be too specific – think of it as a kind of brainstorming. Jenny Blake has a [handy template on this](https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VlBniu7J-ODo94TtKbCJT5NMpNPNpaTzbo8R4FtEJp0/edit), as well. After you’ve created a long list, look at the different points and group them to form clusters. You can use a format that’s well known by most business students – the SWOT chart. Although we’re used to thinking about it as a tool to assess organizations, it’s just as handy for assessing your personality. You just have to draw a four-quadrant map and use each part for your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. If this sounds too abstract, check out [the questions for building a personal SWOT chart here.](https://www.civilservice.louisiana.gov/files/divisions/Training/Job%20Aid/Supervisor%20Toolbox/Questions%20for%20Professional%20SWOT.pdf) Step 3: Build your personal development plan After you have a clear direction, let’s go into detail. The key here is to get down to specific actions for the future. You start by setting up specific projects. What do you need to get them done? * What resources will you need? Books to read, courses to take, tools to subscribe to… * What people will help you do it? Friends, mentors and so on. * What will success look like? Set specific criteria for measuring that. * What is the timeframe? Either put in a general deadline or milestones for different parts of the project. You’ll end up with a clear idea of what needs to get done and how to do it. Now get doing! You can even tie your personal development plan to your annual goals. Read more about [setting annual goals here.](https://enhancv.com/blog/new-years-resolutions/) Step 4: Review and adapt President Eisenhower once said: “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” The importance of a personal development plan is in getting the clarity that comes with answering questions about your future. But it is not set in stone. After all, life changes fast and we need to change with it. That’s why it’s important to review and adapt. Reviews can go on a quarterly basis. Make sure you keep your eye on the prize and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Reread your vision, check out your values mind map. But after that focus just on what needs to be done over the next quarter – otherwise, you might feel overwhelmed by the full picture and never get around to doing anything. If some project no longer makes sense, don’t hesitate to remove it from your personal development plan. Don’t hesitate to adapt the plan according to new interests or a change in circumstances. A good personal development strategy grows as you do. As Tony Robbins put it, _“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”_ ### To share or not to share? You don’t have to advertise your new journey to everyone, so don’t rent that billboard in front of work just yet. However, it’s good to validate your personal development plan with several key people. These can be co-workers, family members, close friends. In a best case scenario, they will be diverse enough to cover all of your plan’s areas. This team of mentors will be able to support you throughout your personal development journey. They will point out ways to achieve your goals, introduce you to new people and resources, or just be there for you when going gets hard. They can also serve as an accountability group – when you’ve shared your goals with others, you feel obliged to see them through. A conclusion Taking a look around and making sure you know what you’re going after is very important and it can be quite refreshing. When I built my personal development plan, I felt energized and ready to conquer every challenge. I was sure I knew what I was doing and that gave me confidence in pursuing my vision. But if you’d like some more inspiration regarding just where an amazing plan can take you, check out our [successful resumes](https://enhancv.com/resume-examples/) page. There, you can see how more than a dozen real people found their own success. Good luck!

Vassilena Valchanova
Sep 8, 2022 7 min read
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Career Growth
The 11 tools you should use to create your personal brand

When you start venturing into a professional field, it immediately hits you – there are 5 to 10 professionals that you follow closely. You probably trust their every word, you take their advice, test techniques they are suggesting and use the gadgets they recommend. The question is: How can you be that leading figure for others in your field? Welcome to the exciting, demanding and often a counter-intuitive world of personal branding!I have been building my personal reputation as a digital communications specialist for some 10 years now and I can tell you: It’s an uphill battle and you have to be in it for the long haul. But it surely is worth it and the opportunities you can unlock are tremendous.The good thing is that nowadays we have all kinds of tech solutions on our side, so building your personal brand can be much better organized. Here are some of my favorite tools.Tools for creating your personal brandNamechkShakespeare famously asks “What’s in a name?” – I really don’t know, but I know what’s in a Twitter handle. It makes no sense to be “johnnysmith” on one network and “smithj” on another, so make sure you keep a consistent naming convention for all your top channels. Test out your desired personal brand name with Namechk to see what social media it’s available on.GrammarlyYou got a great Twitter handle? Good, now write something there! That’s where Grammarly comes in. It’s a great tool to run your public communication through, in order to make sure you eliminate any pesky mistakes in your texts. It’s very handy, especially (but not only) if you’re not a native English speaker. Combine it with Hemingway to improve both your grammar and phrasing skills.CanvaBeing a person dealing with words means I’m not a natural when it comes to design. Canva helps me a lot with building the visual side of my brand. My top suggestion here is to focus on 2-3 templates you like, make them yours by adding your signature color, font or logo and be consistent with visual messaging.EnhancvThe second best thing to having your own personal website is having an outstanding resume. This is not just a tool for job hunting – it can be a great collateral material you can send to media you want to write for, events you want to speak at or presentations in front of potential clients.Tools for monitoring your personal brandGoogle AlertsGoogling yourself from time to time is a great habit you need to develop, but it’s not scalable enough. Set up Google Alerts for your name and any news you appear in will come straight to your inbox. Make sure you also include any common misspellings of your name or type it in different languages (a woe Cyrillic alphabet users across the world would be familiar with).MentionThis tool does the same thing Google Alerts does, but for social media mentions, as well. Getting everything in your email is very handy! The tool has a great free plan and if you’re still early in building your personal brand, it’ll be completely enough to track all mentions.TweetDeckIf you’re active on Twitter – and let’s face it, that’s still the place where thought leaders gather – you can keep everything in one place with TweetDeck. I rely heavily on Twitter lists to interact with different groups and I found it’s a great way to focus on specific topics and do more in less time.KloutMany digital practitioners have mixed feelings about Klout – the methodology they use for calculating their score is discussed a lot. But it’s still a good way to assess performance over time. Don’t look at the absolute score that much – just notice if you’re doing better or worse and act accordingly.Tools for extending your personal brandBufferLet’s face it – you can’t be active on all channels all the time. Buffer allows you to schedule messages for different social media and post updates at your audience’s most active time of day.Just a tip there: don’t just post the title of the article and the link, add some value by sharing what you found interesting in the piece. That’s how you build true thought leadership.IFTTTThe tool’s name is the abbreviation of “if this then that” – and this is pretty much how it works. You can make a variety of recipes to automate your online channels – just choose a trigger event and the action that’s performed after, on the same network or not. The applications of IFTTT are pretty numerous – you can start by checking out their top recipes for social media.MeetupA recent discovery of mine, Meetup lists interesting events in your area. It’s a great way to continue with brand building offline – a less scalable, but very effective way of doing things. You will meet new people, find new niche communities. Hey, you can even muster the courage of speaking at one (and don’t forget to show your Enhancv speaker profile!)Did I miss anything?Are you already working on your personal brand? What tools do you turn to for help? Share your favorites in the comments below!

Vassilena Valchanova
Sep 8, 2022 4 min read
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The Resume Bulletin
What does a president’s resume look like?

Eight years in one job, and Barack Obama has a lot to show for itIn a couple of hours it’s time for President Obama to become citizen Obama once again. After eight years in office, what will his next job be?No matter if he tries to go after that Spotify opening for President of Playlists or he gets some time off, sooner or later Obama will be looking for a job. And what could his resume look like then? Let’s have a look.Is a long-term position a blessing or a curse?Obama has been referred to as “Mr. President” for a long time – 2008 was the year the first Iron Man was out. Yeah, it’s been that long. A long held position used to be a badge of honor – it showed you’re a serious and loyal employee. Nowadays, though, you can expect to change jobs every couple of years – and if you stay with the same company for long, you’d better have something to show for it.Thankfully, President Obama didn’t take his job lightly and he’s been involved in a number of transformative projects with a lasting impact on the USA – his resume is jam-packed with specific results and key projects. It shows he was results oriented throughout his work.Using projects is a very effective way to drive attention when you don’t want to cram everything into your Experience section.Obama the President and Obama the PersonOne thing that distinguishes Obama from all recent presidents is that he’s not afraid to be genuine and sincere. His authentic approach won the hearts of many Americans. That’s why I’d imagine he’d use the same tactics to win recruiters. We’ve included some personal points in the resume, reflecting his pride in raising his daughters Malia and Sasha, his sports hobbies and the love he has for Michelle’s shrimp linguini (however, we don’t recommend non-presidential job seekers to include food preferences in their resumes, unless specifically asked to ;))Use sections like My Time, Favorite Books and Passions to showcase your personality – it’ll help you stand out from other candidates and will make for an interesting conversation with recruiters.It hasn’t been all milk and honeyWe couldn’t argue that Obama’s two terms as president have been neat and easy. He has had to deal with some serious situations, including the decision to take out Osama bin Laden. And some of his work has led to controversial results – the national debt to GDP ration nearly doubled in those 8 years. There are some projects that are too big even for the head of state – in 2009 Obama said he’ll close the prison of Guantanamo Bay “early next year”. Yet, it hasn’t been done. That’s some serious underprediction of deadlines!So what to do with those failures? Admit them!Of course, in your resume you’d focus on the things you’ve accomplished – but don’t be scared to share the ones you haven’t. It’s a great moment to focus on what you’ve learned from those and prove the oh-so-sought-after growth mindset.The most important lessonWhen talking to the summer interns of 2016, Obama told them “Worry less about what you want to be and more about what you want to do.” Don’t focus on your future position’s title, but focus on what you’ll be involved with on a daily basis. The most important bit would be the results you achieved and the projects you saw through – that’s also what makes Obama president, not the office with no corners.If you would like a stellar resume like Obama’s, craft it with Enhancv.Need more, non-presidential inspiration? Check out our resume examples section that got people hired at their dream jobs.

Vassilena Valchanova
Sep 8, 2022 3 min read