Build Your Work Experience Map

It is important to talk about experience. What does your work experience give you? It's more than a list of milestones and accomplishments.

Your work experience contains all of the things, both large and small, that make you who you are. By putting in the work to capture all of these things, it will give you a chance to see even more opportunities in your job search. One exercise, building an experience map, will help you quickly update your resume or online professional profiles, such as LinkedIn.

We're focusing on building an experience map, but what is it and why is it an important tool for organizing your work experience? In this article, we will also discuss what you'll need to create one as well as the time commitment involved.

An experience map is a thorough collection of all the details concerning your life experiences. This makes it more comprehensive than a resume. A resume is just a high level summary of your work experience.

This will mean that the experience map will be larger and contain many more details.

Why do we include non-work related items in an experience map? It serves a number of purposes. If you have already done some self-assessment work, an experience map can build on that. For example, understanding the Dunning-Kreuger effect and other cognitive biases.

Also, it is often difficult to maintain perspective during a job search. Life is hard to keep track of while you're in it. Looking for work is stressful.

This makes it hard to sit back and look at how you got to where you are. It's easier to feel as if you have to focus all your energy on actually applying for jobs. A self-reflective practice like a work experience map helps to slow you down.

Now let's build an experience map. Start with one sheet of paper. In it you want to outline your story. Fill in all of the details of your career journey. Add in as much as you can, including details such as:

  • Work experience. This can include information such as: companies you worked for, jobs and titles you had during your time at an organization, projects you were a part of, etc.
  • Education. List what degrees or certifications you worked toward or earned. Include details on what these degrees or certifications give you (e.g., marketable skills, ability to perform specialized forms of work, etc.). Also, when they expire.
  • Major life events. It doesn't need to be directly related to your work experience. It can be things such as marriage, having children, a trip of a lifetime--anything that had a deep impact on your life.
  • Awards.
  • Promotions.

Putting this information together will take time. Don't rush it! Once you've completed filling out the sheet, let it sit for a while.

Go do something else. You will probably remember details, especially about your work experience, at a later point.

When you do, add them to the experience map. Keep doing this process until you believe you've gotten all the relevant memories and details onto the page.

Building an experience map is an exercise in seeing how the pieces of your life go together and how you can reassemble them.

It helps you see the patterns inside of your work experience. This self-assessment expands your ability to reframe your story so it matches up better with what employers are looking for.

Read on for more ways to make your job search a success: Work Experience: What's the Best Thing You've Learned?

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