BRIGHTEN stands for Business, Research, Innovation, Government, Healthcare Communications, Technology, Education, and Non-profits.
This acronym has been derived from the three dozen stories I have collected (so far) for Employing Linguistics. It’s designed to expand thinking about the worlds of work that need linguists.
In the course of my documenting their stories, they have been charting their careers and lives, changing jobs, getting promoted, gotten married and had children, moved, moved back etc. As such, their experiences illuminate some broad patterns about work, first and foremost being change and range of contexts in which our skills and training may be applied. Additionally, they demonstrate fluidity across some of the perceived barriers or central dualities – revealing them to be false dichotomies – including working “inside” and “outside” academia, working for yourself and working for an employer, paid and unpaid labor (inviting a broader conversation about what gets valued and remunerated in our society), working as part of a team of linguists and working as the only linguist at an organization, and indeed the very ideas of “staying” vs. “going.”
With their stories, these linguists give both perspective and a sense of abundance.
Participants will put these ideas into practice with an activity to connect these bright spots into constellations. In so doing, we will begin some of the very important work of figuring out what you really want from your career, a step which we all too often skip right over.
With this series, we will explore the ideas Anna Marie has been developing for Employing Linguistics over the past few years. First and foremost, the book has been created to share stories, but different – and different kinds – of stories about how the skills and training of linguistics may be employed. Why? Because the stories that we hear shape our sense of who we are and what we can DO.
Importantly, we will hear about exploration and navigation, from people actively engaged in those processes. And we will do so by reflecting on some of the tools that Anna Marie has found to be useful for holding the space to be curious: a metaphor: charting the stars; the acronym BRIGHTEN (to engage abundance thinking about the worlds of work that need our skills & training), the “superpowers” we linguists bring, and finally, why a story listening approach is so very helpful.
Our conversation pairs quite nicely with my recent post about resumes as a conversation (note that in the UK, the term “CV” has a different – read: broader – linguistic scope, such that what they are talking about when they talk about “CV” is more aligned with what we would call a “resume” in the US).
With Words and Actions‘ fabulous co-hosts Erica Darics, Veronica Koller, and Bernard DeClerck, I discussed some of the themes I’m exploring in my forthcoming book (provisionally titled) Employing Linguistics including:
a new metaphor that I’m using these days to talk about getting your bearings with career navigation, that of finding your “constellation” of stars
The idea of “moving your MRE” – a continuation of the idea of “shifting your deictic center” from my last book project, Bringing Linguistics to Work.
an exploration of the superpowers we have as linguists.
I’ll be kicking off a webinar series Fridays in August exploring these ideas with friends and collaborators, including some of the people whose stories will feature in Employing Linguistics. Stay tuned for information here on Career Linguist.
Jopwell is a career advancement platform helping Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals connect with meaningful job opportunities. Jopwell partners with companies of all sizes and across all industries. We work with the world’s leading employers, including, Facebook, Google, Amazon, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Peloton, Pinterest, WeWork, Spotify, the PGA of America, USTA, and many others. The Role & Responsibilities We’re a fast-growing start-up looking for our first DEI Strategist to build out Jopwell’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) advisory business. You will develop and operationalize our advisory model working with C-suite level stakeholders to drive effective DEI strategies at our partner companies. You know how to build DEI policies and programming and take ownership of the process from ideation to execution, from strategy to the smallest details. You are someone who knows how to balance data-driven decision making with a consistent creative vision. You know how to scale an initiative effectively and take ownership over data and success metrics to drive profitability and growth. As a critical team member of Jopwell, you will also inform company-wide and product strategy in relation to DEI methodologies. You have a deep connection to the mission of Jopwell and the goal of advancing opportunities for people of color. You are a builder, life-long learner, and thought leader in the space who can own the dialogue on DEI for Jopwell. As the first member of our diversity, equity, and inclusion advisory business, you will report directly to our Co-founder and CEO and will play a key role in the team and business unit’s development. This role may require extensive travel (expected 30% of the time) and remote onsite work. What You Bring Abilities • Must have a strong perspective on diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices with a keen focus on employee retention and engagement. • Must be able to operate in a fast-paced, highly-collaborative environment amongst ambiguity. • Ability to create and form structure from chaos. • Must be a self-starter able to self-motivate and work independently. • Capable of liaising with senior and executive teams, including building and delivering executive-level analysis, memos, and presentations. • Ability to create sustainable and scalable procedures and processes. • Ability to build consensus amongst a variety of stakeholders within a company. • Ability to develop tools to track and measure program results. • Must be an exceptional communicator both in writing and speaking. • Ability to lead meetings and events with confidence. • Ability to meet deadlines and manage multiple projects concurrently. • Ability to use your extensive knowledge of DEI best practices, research, and data to formulate advice and action plans. • Ability to apply of lessons, patterns, and solutions from previous experiences to new and differing challenges. Skills • Has at least 5+ years of experience working within a DEI team at a reputable brand, consulting firm with DEI practice, or an advanced degree with a focus on DEI. • Has broad experience in DEI strategy with a specific expertise in operationalizing diversity, equity, and inclusion internally. • Has successfully built out policy and programming to engage and retain diverse talent. • Has broad business acumen. • Has built DEI programs from ideation to execution. • Has functional knowledge of and expertise in DEI best practices. • Has strong project management, planning, and organizational skills. • Demonstrates keen attention to detail and accuracy. Learn more about Jopwell: Jopwell is currently a team of 50+ full-time employees based in NYC. We’ve secured $12M in venture funding since our inception in 2015, including investments from Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, Cue Ball Capital, Kapor Capital, Omidyar Network, and Magic Johnson Enterprises. We’ve also been featured extensively by both print and digital publications, including, amongst others Forbes, Inc Magazine, and NBC. Fast Company hailed us as one of the most innovative enterprise companies of 2017 and Entrepreneur included Jopwell on their list of the top 100 brilliant ideas of 2017. Forbes, Inc. Magazine, LinkedIn, and Fast Company also distinguished our co-founders as “30 Under 30” award recipients. Jopwell is an equal opportunity employer. Jopwell will not discriminate against any applicant for employment on any basis including, but not limited to: race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, marital status, predisposing genetic characteristics and genetic information, or any other classification protected by federal, state and local laws
You linguists know what I’m talking about – they are a pair part. Remember adjacency pairs?
From conversations I have been having lately (including among the post-Ac community), I have been hearing a lot about “turning one’s CV into a resume.” And “turning” strikes me not only as the wrong conceptual frame, but also as extremely unhelpful because the resume and the CV are simply two different things. The task shouldn’t be approached as turning one into the other.
Now if I have managed to convince you of that, I now want to ask you to accept one more radical idea: there is no such thing as THE resume. Resumes don’t exist on their own. They exist in direct conversation with a particular job announcement, or responding to a particular opportunity. You write a resume with a specific set of ideas in your mind about what the tasks, duties, and responsibilities will be. You write a resume with an idea of who is going to be reading it and what they value. This is how you know what to include, and how to prioritize.
Resumes are a response. Any resume is (just one part of) a conversation.
Now, you may be already hearing the “who”s and “what”s and “how”s in how I am approaching things, so you may not be surprised to learn that I’m now going to take you through the content curation task involved in building a resume using the Work Interrogatives (an idea I have been exploring here on Career Linguist for some time now.
You’ll notice that I used the term “content creation” just now.
If resumes do exist, they are giant repositorites of lists of descriptive information of your past work experiences. Forget one page, these might be dozens of pages long, or even – as in my case – multiple sets of documents in sets of folders. Since writing my dissertation, I have been working with the idea of idea nuggets, each and every idea gets its own page. In the case of the resume collection of ideas, some of them are written down in fully developed story form while others are descriptive lists and others are just free-writing. Every job gets a folder, and there are a collection (sometimes dozens ) of documents describing projects worked on, skills utilized, experiences gained. And I can hear the comment already: yes, I am sure there is a more tech-savvy way to capture all of this information –and for the record, I have tried Evernote – but the point is, the information is contained and stored somewhere other than on any one resume. You pick and choose which ideas to select. I’ll never be able to describe everything, and I wouldn’t want to.
Only mention things on your resume that you want to be asked to do again.
OK so now let’s go through the Work Interrogatives to see how they help in the process of curating content for a resume.
WHO: you might know the person / people who are going to be looking at this (version of your) resume. If you don’t, see what you can learn from how they talk about themselves on LinkedIn. Can you glean any information about what they particularly value?
To engineer the shift in perspective, that of putting yourself in their shoes, you might want to ask friends to look at your resume – have them tell you what jumps out for them. If they are up for some storytelling, have them tell you what story they get from looking at this (version of) yours.
For years in my Bringing Linguistics to Work(shop) I have done an activity that involves looking at resumes from a distance. I put two resumes up on a slide, too small ad far away to be able to actually read the content, but still legible enough to be able to discern the information architecture. You can still see how the ideas are presented and organized. I then ask workshop participants which resume they prefer and it’s always the same. It’s the one that has symmetry under each section heading, it’s the one that has more white space. You look at it and you almost relax because you can tell that someone was thinking about you – the reader – when they designed it.
Which brings us to WHAT, something I have written about using the metaphor of the suitcase, that you should pack your resume with your destination in mind. Select only the essential, versatile, favorite pieces. We’ve all had the experience of packing so much in our suitcases that you can’t find anything. And that because you have tried to cram in so much, everything that is in there gets crushed and wrinkled, and keeps falling out all over the floor.
Lately, I have started doing an activity with job advertisements at workshops which has participants go through and pick three WHATs. Three and only three. To start anyways. What are the top three things that you will be asked to do as part of this job (and you get to create the scale: like it could be “conduct research,” or it could be “conduct evaluation research,” or it could be conduct an evaluation of this particular program or project). The work of selecting the three is about picturing yourself at the job, and it gets you imagining how you will prioritize your time, which helps your select and prioritize the selection of details from your stockpile to present in this resume. Which three WHATs will you select? And then don’t forget to put the SOQs on them!
Some thoughts about WHEN, which also have to do with WHERE you are in your career.
If you are just starting off, it makes sense to put your education section first. If you’ve been out of school for a while, put the education after work experience.
Re: work Experience: Depending on how many years of experience you are drawing from (and how long you spent in each position), you may want to consider a chronological or a skills-based resume (or a combination). Again, it will depend on what the person to whom you are sending this resume needs /seems to be asking for.
The timing of submission is also something to consider. It’s a constant balance between spending the time to think and carefully format and getting the thing in quickly. Another factor to consider is making time to reach out to anyone you might know who might be able to put in a word for you at an organization. But as with anything, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Which is to say sooner may be better. Submitting an imperfect resume is better than missing the application window (which now that things are being posted on LinkedIn is sometimes not a thing which may be known in advance – employers may simply decide to close the search when they have received a handful of applications that look good to them).
WHY. Creating a resume is a great time to spend some time thinking about your WHY. Why do you want this particular job? How does it fit in with your career trajectory? My favorite tool these days for thinking about the why is the VIA Values in Action inventory.
You take a 10 minute quiz, and then you’ll have a list of your top 10 work values.
Ideally, at this stage, you would then do a pocket full of stories session, or use some other story finding activities to find a handful of stories that show these values in action. Stories are the best way to demonstrate HOW you work. They help a would-be employer see why they need you!
Recently, I found a work opportunity that I really wanted to apply for, so I had the chance to put my momey where my mouth is put these recommendations to practice. I did my VIA inventory, and pocket full of stories to match moments with ideas to show how I embody things like Love of Learning, Social Intelligence, and Kindness. I went to Canva and downloaded one of their resume and cover letter templates. And I built them from scratch. I have been telling people to do this for years, and finally was able to wean myself away from my bad habits and not start from a different resume and adapt. I built it from scratch. And in response to the job ad. I had done the work to identify the top three things that they were looking for. And I had done the work to find my stories to share in response. It felt dynamic. It was a conversation. It was – dare I say it? – fun! And I got an interview, so I must have done something right!
Try it – and let me know how it goes!
To read more about what I have said about resumes over the years, see the About Resumes page here on Career Linguist.
Opportunities range from simple surveys that can be completed in less than one hour to on-going projects that last for months or longer. We look for a variety of skill sets, from those who use social media regularly to candidates who have college degrees in linguistics
The purpose of this worksheet is for people with a PhD to start to think about their skills in new ways and to move beyond the CV mindset. Our goal is to mine the academic experience for skills you have but may not have thought of as marketable. It’s also a chance to consider what you truly enjoy doing and what you most want to spend your time doing in the future.
One very important note: Don’t omit anything in this inventory because you think the skill is not “serious” enough. You might find that the things that you previously considered fun hobbies, side projects or thought experiments will help you discover what you are good at and want to do more of.
No question is required. If it doesn’t make sense for you, skip it or change it so that it does make sense. At the end, there will be some summary questions that are best done once you’ve gone through each section.