Skip to Main Navigation Skip to Content
Be in demand

How to tell your story of resilience during a global pandemic

How to tell your story of resilience during a global pandemic

All of us are pivoting, changing and adapting to this new world of work because of COVID-19. In late March I shared this post asking career professionals, HR professionals and resume writers to weigh in – to stimulate our thinking about how we talk about this time of our lives in the future.

When it comes time to talk about this period of our lives, what will we say?

As an executive resume writer, executives, government officials and business leaders trust me to support them through their career transitions. Busy professionals are focused on what comes next; they often do not take the time to track, measure or count the impressive array of accomplishments they have achieved throughout their careers.

It can feel like a mind-bending exercise to remind these overachievers just how impressive they are. In fact, many say they needed the extra push from working with an executive resume writer to hone in on their accomplishments.

“Sometimes when you achieve things, you don’t think about the measured outcomes. Your process made me think about my accomplishments and how to highlight them to attract employers.” – Executive Client

“I recently worked with a client who was in the process of setting up all the COVID-19 contingency plans for the company. We quickly turned this into an achievement on her resume. If a job seeker is helping her company prepare for setting up remote workers, etc. during this time, that’s an idea for a resume bullet point.” Wes Pearce

Help from the Resume Writing Community

Here, in no particular order, is the tremendous support and input received from the Resume Writing, HR and Career Professional Community. Read through the list of suggestions and hopefully, they will inspire you to take notice of your own strengths:

  • Championed all-hands-on-deck cross-collaboration that ensured clients received much-needed services during time of crisis. Virginia Franco
  • Inspired clients to innovate and transform current business models and customer experiences to create sustaining competitive advantage during time of crisis. Skye Berry
  • Maintained capacity to meet demand, developing and executing strategic manpower and recruitment plans…
  • Spearheaded profitable and efficient operations ramping up production from two to three shifts. Daisy Wright
  • Launched blog for work-from-home parents to dialogue about pragmatic ways to feel and work productive. Jacqui Barrett Poindexter
  • Gathered feedback from employees and customers to rapidly adapt processes that can function under new inter-dependencies.
  • Prioritized multiple critical tasks and needs to ensure continuity for stakeholders. Angela Watts
  • Transitioned (insert number) in-person staff to remote work…
  • Transformed key organization initiatives to meet market needs… Meg Applegate
  • Initiated new virtual meetings and increased team collaboration…
  • Developed a financial resource library for temporarily laid off employees… Barb Penny
  • Sustained or even increased team morale…
  • Developed operational solutions…
  • Created new programs, systems, or processes…
  • Cultivated new business relationships/partnerships… Rachel Akers
  • Stepped up to assume oversight over X, creating Y. Adrienne Tom
  • Took advantage of a 2-week layoff to catch up on technical (admin? writing? people leadership?) skills with online workshops in (list titles). Stephanie Clark

How to stimulate your thinking

If you’re still feeling unsure of how to present yourself, three industry-leading resume writers shared questions to help.

“I think we will need to look for professional achievements (as we would normally) and also explore some of the human side to this crisis and how it is upending normal life patterns, even for those not personally experiencing illness or serving on the front lines.

What changed?

How did you react to it?

How did you stay productive?

What extra efforts did you make?

Because it is a shared experience—everyone in the whole wide world is affected—it is an opportunity for bonding and for revealing character.” Louise Kursmark

“I’d find myself also asking questions like:

  • Tell me how you pivoted to address this personal and professional challenge?
  • Tell me how you transformed your brick and mortar business to continue generating revenue?
  • What strengths and skills do you feel you tapped into in order to excel against these odds?
  • How did you use your time (closed, furloughed, unemployed)?
  • For instance, did you learn something new from books, online courses, or research? Did you pursue a product creation? Write a business plan?”

Laura DeCarlo

When people are challenged to tell and/or reframe their stories. They’ll say things like:

“I was just doing my job” or “it was really nothing at all.”

Their contributions are much more significant than they first realize.

This is not the time to minimize your resiliency, flexibility and courage in large and small endeavours during this crisis.

Did you or how did you:

  • Manage your household challenges?
  • Make arrangements to stay connected with work/colleagues?
  • Remain flexible and be creative to juggle multiple needs?
  • Deal with the sudden lack of structure or create new structures?
  • Ensure the safety of the people around you?
  • Adapt your job search or needs for income?
  • Leap to offer solutions/solace/support to your community?
  • Develop new ideas to adapt to this new way of life and work?

Wayne Pagani

You’re not in this alone. There are career professionals across the country and around the world to guide and support you. This is a small sampling of the generosity of our ‘careers’ community. You’ll find career professionals in private practice, in non-profits, academia, social services, government and in some cases within your corporations. Reach out and get the help you need.

If you found the information in this article valuable or helpful in some way, please ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on this article so people in your network can see it. Feel free to share it and pass it along to people who might benefit from it, as well.

“This is an opportunity to stand out and take the lead that you’ll be able to leverage for many years to come. The people who lead well and support others through this time are going to be sought after down the road.” Austin Belcak

A big shout out and thank you to everyone who contributed Virginia | Wes | Wayne | Skye | Stephanie | Rachel | Meg | Louise | Laura | Jacqui | Daisy | Barb | Austin | Ana | Adrienne

Related Categories: Job Search, Resumes & ATS

About The Author
Maureen McCann is an award-winning career coach, master resume writer, and master certified interview, employment, and career strategist whose clients include C-level executives, managers, and professionals in all industries including the Canadian banking, oil and gas, healthcare, IT, and government sectors.

Ready to Get Unstuck?

Contact me to book a one-on-one appointment. Confidentiality guaranteed. An investment in your career is one of the best investments you'll make in your life.