“I only wish I figured out I’m a Renaissance Personality a long time ago…”

If there’s one thing I consistently hear newly-found-out Renaissance Personalities say, it is that.

Often, parents are the ones who are then being brought into the mix. How they didn’t understand you. How they pushed you in the wrong directions…

Cue video by Barbara Sher (the Grande Dame of scanners aka RPs) that I recently watched on YouTube. You can see it here: http://bit.ly/hZEsQx

She talks about how no parent is able to truly understand who you are. “There’s no way of knowing who your children are because they’re not a copy of you,” Barbara says.

When I first saw this video, it gave me a sense of relief, even though I never blamed my parents for not understanding my personality type.

But there’s something reassuring to know that you didn’t – somehow – miss the boat because YOUR PARENTS (for crying out loud…those parents again…don’t they screw us up anyway?) didn’t figure you out when you were young. There could have been no other way.

So I figured that if this video made me feel better, it might definitely help those of you who are walking around with parent issues.

I personally know a few RPs who grew up with RP parents – or at least 1 RP parent. These folks were fortunate not only that their parents are also RPs but that they chose careers that were off the beaten path. Therefore, these people had examples of what life can be like when you make “different” choices.

For the rest of us, it was just plain tough. Right?

We had to figure it all out for ourselves.

That’s also what Barbara is talking about in the video.

What say you?

The video is less than 4 minutes…go watch it! (Barbara’s little doggie’s hooded outfit alone is worth watching the video for!)


The other day, a client of mine brought up this topic concerning the value of a specialist compared to that of a generalist.

As a business lawyer, he challenged the notion that in our society, specialists are much more appreciated – and paid! – than generalists.

“Take, for example, a General Practitioner,” he said. “Clearly, a specialist has to put in more years of study compared to a GP. But the GP is the first person you’ll see when you’ve got a medical problem that’s not life threatening – or you’d be in the ER. This first layer of diagnosing and shifting GPs do is vitally important, yet undervalued.”

My client reasoned that if a GP misdiagnoses you and sends you to the wrong specialist, or to none at all when he or she should’ve, the results can be catastrophic.

He gave another example closer to home for him; business law. As a “first response” business lawyer, he gets all the questions and cases thrown at him. He is a generalist who knows a little about a lot. He enjoys communicating and collaborating with lots of different parties and functioning as a “bridge” between all of them.

“Guess what,” he said. “If I misjudge a case or an issue and misdirect the folks that came to me with it, the financial and/or legal consequences could be dire.”

My client went on to say that he thinks most employers undervalue their generalist employees. “Often,” he said, “just like with the GPs, these generalists play an important role in shifting and connecting. Same in HR. Examples abound. So why are these positions almost always less compensated and valued than those of ‘true specialists?’”

It’s easy to argue this case from both ends with obvious points…The amount of study that goes into specialization and the higher level of responsibility explain the bigger salaries. “But wait…this is where the generalist is often misunderstood,” my client said. “Because, as we just saw, the consequences of misjudgment by a generalist can be severe. So why this discrepancy?”

I firmly believe we’ll be seeing more and more organizations that do value the “jack-of-all-trades” aka generalist aka cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural employee that brings an understanding to the table of more than the little square in front of him.

This trend has already started with globalization and technology.

What do you think? Are you a generalist yourself? If so; do you feel you get the credit for your role that you deserve?

Resume writing is not among most people’s favorite activities. You need an updated, state-of-the art resume to quickly communicate why you’re the best match for a specific position or company. The reason that professional resume writers (such as myself) exist – the ones that invest in continuing education and belong to professional organizations and uphold stellar certification, is that creating a strong resume for yourself is not an easy task. (Make that the understatement of the year.)

And whether you believe the resume is a dying breed (hint: it’s not as long as employers want to find out about you without having to spend minutes perusing your information) – you’ll always have to be able to present yourself and your abilities.

Now imagine having talents and interests that go in multiple directions, such as the multi-talented Renaissance Personalities. And let’s say you want to actively pursue several of these directions simultaneously. I know this is not an exceptional situation for many of you.

In reality, this means you’ll need to create as many versions of your resume as there are positions that you want to pursue.

See the nightmare emerge?

No wonder I often get the question “How do I create a resume that makes sense to employers if I’ve been all over the place?”

If you are a multi-talented RP with interests in all different directions, here’s what you need to do:

•             For starters; forget the idea that a “generic” resume will do the trick for you. It won’t. Not even close. Haven’t you noticed?  :  )  (Note to all non-RPs: it doesn’t work for you either…)

•             Decide which 2 or 3 directions/fields you want to pursue now, and which later. Focus on the now. Chasing more areas of interest at once will leave you exhausted and frustrated.

•             Adopt the idea of creating 2 different kinds of resumes; one for yourself and one you send out into the world. This means you’ll end up with multiple versions of the one you’ll use to send to employers, and one for you. Make sense?

So here’s what I want you to do:

1 – Create a resume that will forever stay in your files. This resume can be as long as you want it to be. Include all the jobs you’ve ever held. Yes, even the 3-month stints from back in the days. List all the courses you took, finished or unfinished. All the volunteer work, the projects you were involved in. And, don’t forget; your skills.

These are examples of headings  you can use:

•             Work experience

•             Volunteer experience

•             Education (formal and courses taken)

•             Special projects (for anything that honed a skill but that doesn’t fall under one of the other categories)

•             Skills (such as foreign languages, etc.)

•             Publications

•             Presentations/speaking engagements

•             Inventions/patents

•             Hobbies

The list goes on…you get the idea, right?

Note that these are not necessarily the same headings you’d use on a resume you’d send out to an employer. Some are, some aren’t.

This resume is more of a life story than a resume. Never mind resume styles and formatting  and other resume “rules.” That’s not what this one is about. This is also not a project you’ll do in one afternoon. You’ll start remembering experiences and jobs you had forgotten about once you start the process of writing it all down.

•             Once your listing is complete, take a step back for a few days and revisit your list with fresh eyes. See if you can spot themes. And transferrable skills. Write these down on a new piece of paper.

•             Now start working on the version of your resume you will be using to send out to employers and contacts.

•             Work on one resume at a time. Begin with the position or field you’re most interest in or want to pursue first. Find out as much as you can about the requirements. Now peruse your list of transferable skills and themes and see what you have to work with. That is, besides directly applicable experience you may have.

The point is; you want to make sure you highlight anything that’s relevant to this position/company/industry. But not more than that.

Remember this: it is totally ok to omit experiences from your resume that are not relevant to the position you’re pursuing. Of course, you’ll need to account for your time so if this were to create gaps, you’ll have to be creative. (Wonder how? Email me at Ilona @CareerBranches.com.)

The key to a successful resume for Renaissance Personalities is to focus, focus, focus. As counter-intuitive as that may sound. You don’t want to confuse people with all sorts of unrelated information. They need to very quickly be able to grasp how you’d be a great fit for this position.

As you may begin to see, research and networking are vital for RPs. The more you know about the requirements, and the more of an “in” you have with a company, the better you can position yourself. And thus the better your odds are of landing an interview – and the job!

Of course, there may be positions that specifically ask for cross-disciplinary experience. Right up the RP’s alley! This is where you get to play up your multiple talents and diverse experience.

However, always keep the reader in mind. Put yourself in their shoes. If you were hiring for this position; what would you want to know? What’s truly important and what is more of a distraction?

Pick and choose from your diverse background.

Then, repeat the last step for the next position you want to pursue. Depending on how different it is from the first, you may have to either completely rewrite your resume, or maybe just tweak it here and there.

The bottom line is that you want to be aware of the wealth of knowledge and skills and experience you have. We often take for granted what comes easy and what we’ve done only for a brief period. But all these pieces may come in handy.

The other thing I want you to remember is to then focus your resume and always keep it relevant. Work on one at a time and you’ll make your life a little easier.

No, I’m not pretending that creating resumes for RPs – or anyone! – is easy and that you can do it in less than 2 hours. This process will likely take several days, if not longer. Chip away at it. Let it sit for a while. Sleep on it.

Of course, I’m available if you want to hire me to work on your resume together and have me create it from scratch. But in case you want to do it yourself, these tips will get you off at the right track.

Good luck! Let me know what has worked for you so far, ok?


In reality, some multi-talented people (what I call “Renaissance Personalities”) feel awkward about telling their friends and family that their “problem” of not feeling fulfilled in their current career originates in being multi-talented. After all…they reason, if you’re good at so many different things, why not just pick one and stick with it?

Other Renaissance Personalities feel selfish because it seems such a nice problem to have; “too many” talents.

Others feel like they need to see a mental health specialist. Or are told/forced by their loved ones to see someone about their “issue.”

And when you think career or aptitude tests will bring you solace – think again. I have yet to find the RP who has found the magic answer in a test. For obvious reasons; you’re good at – and interested in – highly diverse fields.

So here are the most common mistakes I see “newly discovered” RPs make, and of course I’ll tell you how to avoid these mistakes…

Still focusing on career direction, believing there is one magic solution that fits your personality.

I can’t blame you – that’s what we’ve been taught to do throughout high school and in society. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It starts there.

Even though there are a few lucky bastards that get to combine multiple passions into a so-called “umbrella career,” it doesn’t mean you’re there.

They say that even non-RPs change careers on average 7 times throughout their lives. For RPs, career focus is a work in progress that will never end.

An RP who emailed me last week is on to her 16th career!

Here’s how to avoid the mistake of focusing on a single solution…

You will have to get used to the idea – better yet; get comfortable with it – that you’ll have a lot of changes in your professional life. And you won’t be able to figure it all out from today until retirement.

It’s a changing world; professions disappear, others are born. Technology develops at insane velocity. We’re all getting more global and linked together.

For most RPs, the real question of what to do next is a combination question:

What are the different things I want to do?

Which of these do I want to do for money? (And which do I keep as a hobby?)

In which order am I going to pursue the things I want to do?

Answers to these questions will vary widely, even among RPs.

You see, there are vast differences among RPs.

This brings us to another major mistake I see RPs make: Not recognizing that there are many different types of RPs, each with their own preferences.

Here’s how to avoid this mistake…

Read up on the many different types of RPs in my free report (see below) and in Barbara Sher’s “Refuse to Choose.”

For example; some RPs like to skim the surface of a topic and then move on, not staying in any particular field any longer than necessary.

Yet others like to specialize – contradictory as it may sound – and move on to the next thing after maybe 10 years. What makes them an RP is that they tend to move on to something completely different. Also, they’re not motivated by money or status. Once they reach success, they feel “done.” And thus move on. The challenge has been mastered.

Some RPs make the conscious decision to engage in all their passions in their free time. Not commercializing your passions can be a big advantage too. These RPs pick a rather simple, steady job that doesn’t cause them stress or require long hours. This way, they have enough time, energy, and money to enjoy their true passions in their own time, on their own terms.

A more esoteric “mistake” I see RPs make is not fully accepting and embracing their trait. This is such an important aspect that I spend a lot of time on it in my Renaissance program.

Especially after believing for such a long time that something is awry with you, it’s hard to let the truth sink in, namely that you’re simply a multi-talented, multi-passionate person.

Here’s how to avoid this mistake…

Keep at it. Reread the Barbara Sher and Margaret Lobenstine books. Keep reading my newsletter and blog, and others on the topic. Try to connect with other RPs. Talk about it with supportive people.

The more you keep the whole concept front of mind, the more it will feel normal to you and the more ingrained it will become that you too are very normal!

It just takes some time and practice.

Bottom line: have patience with yourself! No one said it’s easy to create a Renaissance life but the important part is that it CAN be done! And it can be exciting and fulfilling, as long as you’re willing to accept the ongoing nature of it. This is why it’s important to have support around you. Hopefully from your loved ones to begin with and from a good coach at times to get you going in the right direction and gain momentum.

For a more in-depth overview of these – and other – mistakes RPs commonly make, download my free report “3 Massive Mistakes Modern-Day ‘Renaissance Personalities’ Make-And How to Avoid Them” on my website: http://www.CareerBranches.com – if you hadn’t already done so…

Question for you: Are you confident?

About yourself? About your competencies? About your professional status? About your career in general? About switching careers? About your ability to make changes when needed and do what you truly love?

I watched a video by Marie Forleo last week about this topic. (She focuses on women business owners so you may not know her. But the same principle applies to career professionals.)

Marie said that confidence is overrated, and I agree.


Because, if you let it get in the way of moving forward, you’ll never get anywhere.

It’s nice to be confident and build your confidence up when you feel insecure, and this is something that usually happens when I work one-on-one with my clients – but it’s true…if you’re waiting until you’re 100% confident to take that next move to take that next move, you won’t go anywhere.

Confidence is a great good in America; it’s often seen as a must-have to succeed at anything. Of course, how you project yourself influences how others see you, so there is definitely a psychological component there.

However, it’s better to take a shot at something with the possibility of succeeding, than just day dreaming about it because you’re not 100% sure of the outcome.

Guess what – you never will be! And even confidence will not guarantee success.

I think that especially for us, Renaissance Personalities, it is important to realize that we’ll most likely feel some apprehension whenever we embark on something new. We spend a great deal of our lives outside our comfort zone. Not because we want to, but because staying put in something boring or something we don’t enjoy is just not an option.

So please realize that it’s ok and normal to feel hesitant and insecure about your next endeavor, or about aspects of your job or a new project.

I do.

It’s about keeping it moving.

So, as much as I like to help my clients boost their confidence and make them feel better – which is still very valuable – I agree that a warning is in place: don’t confuse not feeling 100% confident about your next step with some sort of “sign” that you shouldn’t move forward with your plans or projects.

In fact; usually, it’s the other way around. You push yourself out of your comfort zone and watch your confidence grow as you take steps toward your goal. Often succeeding, don’t you?

My tips for taking the next step anyway, even when you don’t feel 100% confident:

  • Get some real perspective; what is the absolute worst that could happen? Could you die? (If yes – forego the above advice.  ;  )
  • What is the “cost” of not doing what you want to do? Is it …  staying stuck in a field you hate, forever wondering what could have been, taking up mental space by obsessing how you’ll do it once….?
  • Ask yourself what you want to look back on – 5 years from now…10 years from now. Truth is – what may seem so awkward or scary now, you tend to forget the second these feelings vanish. Looking back, you typically remember the things you did, the things you tried, and the things you wanted to do but never did. Especially those. So try to keep that list as short as possible.
  • Talk to people who have gone before you, and ask them what it was like. Was it what they expected? Were they confident about their move beforehand?

Do you have additional tips to get past that “lack of confidence block?” Post them as a comment and we’ll compare notes!

In this week’s column “J.T. and Dale Talk Jobs,” J.T. referenced yours truly when answering a reader’s question about the right career path for him. J.T. suggested the reader might be, what I call, a Renaissance Personality, and mentioned a hybrid career to him; basically two separate careers, simultaneously.

Here’s a link to one of the outlets that published the column.

A hybrid career is indeed a great way to satisfy a multi-passionate personality’s craving for variety and new experiences. But there are other ways of shaping your life and your career if you’re wired like a Renaissance man or woman.

If you’re someone who gets bored fast, then project-based work could be a god sent.

However, if you’re able to stay interested in a topic or field for quite some time – say several years – you could pursue work in this field, stay in it for as long as you like, and whenever you hit your X-year itch, switch!

How to just switch without going back to school for another 4 years, you wonder?

By volunteering in the field while still employed in your other job, or by taking on part-time jobs or projects in this field to start out with. You can get a feel for a new field by shadowing someone.

And, you want to be strategic about your choices. See if you can use and hone skills in your current job that you know will be of value in your next endeavor – provided you already know what that will be. You probably know more than you give yourself credit for.

Another option for Renaissance Personalities is to pursue your many interests and passions in your free time and pick a day job that provides stable income and suits your needs. For example; one with no to very little stress and overtime so you’ll have enough time and energy to enjoy your off-time activities.

Also, be strategic about the industry you pick for your day job. If traveling is one of your passions, might as well try to get a job with an airline or travel company. The husband of a friend of mine works in IT for a travel agency and the family enjoys 20% off their family vacations! Not bad.

Another option could be a teaching job where you enjoy crazy time off! This will give you time to travel, create your art, set up your personal projects, build a house, or do whatever it is you need time for.

So try to match the perks your day job offers you with your other interests, whenever possible.

Yet another way to create a Renaissance life is to hunt for an umbrella career; satisfying multiple passions in one job. These are harder to get by, but worthwhile. An example would be a foreign correspondent if you love to write, travel, and are into politics. Or a food critic if you love to write, love food, and can’t stand the idea of sitting in a cubicle all day.

The one thing all of these jobs – other than the day jobs – have in common is that it requires creativity on your part. You have to carve out your own path and dare to ask for unconventional arrangements.

Start by making a list of all the things – activities, hobbies, work, fields – you’re interested in and want to experience.

Next, narrow your list down to the things you want to do professionally. If you’re not sure…just add them. You’re not committing for life here!

Then make a list of your values and narrow it down to the top three. What’s most important to you in life? Stability? Money? Freedom? Adventure? Family? Team work? Harmony? Exploration? Pioneering? The list goes on. Find out what really matters to you.

Now take your top three values and see how they match up with your list of interests. Find the ones that overlap. After all, if your values are at odds with your daily activities, you won’t be happy for long.

Make a new list with only the activities/interests that overlap with your values and prioritize them – if this is easy for you. Is there something you are just dying to do first? Put it at the top. If you don’t have clear preferences, this is ok, as long as you don’t get stuck in overanalyzing things. Instead of just picking one, pick two or three. One or two you can start doing for money, and another you’ll do in your free time.

You’re almost there!

Take a close look at everything you’ve done in your life; professionally and for fun. Write down all the skills and knowledge you may have taken for granted. Warning: for most Renaissance Personalities, this may take some time!

Try to see where you have skills and abilities that you could transfer into a new field or job.

And, most importantly; get out there! Talk to people about what you want, what you’re looking for, and ask them what they do and how they got there. Never try doing it on your own.

There you have it – a crash course in career planning, Renaissance style. Of course there’s a lot more to it, depending on your particular type of Renaissance Personality. But hopefully this got you started – and that’s half the battle…truly!

If you want to read real-life stories of Renaissance Personalities who have done this – and other posts on this topic, please browse my blog.

(You can sign up for J.T. and Dale’s question column here: http://www.jtanddale.com/)

Do You Push Too Hard?

December 15, 2010

Have you given your job search or career change your all yet you’ve still got nothing to show for?

When people come to me and tell me this, it typically comes down to 2 things:

  • They either thought they did all the right things but in reality they lacked a solid strategy. Or any strategy.
  • They pretty much did all the right things – and may have even enlisted the help of a coach or counselor – but their attitude wasn’t right.

I want to talk about the second scenario.

So let me explain “attitude.” Or maybe “intention” is a better word.

When you look at the people who land new jobs, despite a bad economy, the thing they typically have in common is an upbeat outlook. Or at least a non-desperate one.

While this is something that is partially personality-based, you can teach yourself to adopt a more positive perspective on something that can seem very daunting, such as a job search.

Whenever you act based on fear and desperation, you start to rush yourself and you are more prone to making mistakes. Not to mention you’re giving off bad vibes. I don’t want to get all airy-fairy on you, but it’s easy to spot the difference between someone who feels good about him/herself and who has faith in the future vs. the person who feels panicky about securing their next position.

Is this tricky?

Of course it is.

When you’re suddenly out on the streets and you have a family to provide for, “zen” is not the most likely state of mind.

I see a lot of panic in the people that come to me after they’ve lost their jobs. (Again, a great reminder why it’s so vital to be prepared at all times with an updated resume and an active network. And to start a job or career transition when you’re still employed if you know you want to make a change. But that’s food for another article.)

So how do you go from panic to peace?

Sometimes, it’s by realizing what’s “likely” to happen, what the worst case scenario is, and what’s possible. Often, the worst case scenario is highly unlikely or not as bad as you thought. Or it turns out there are other options. For example; if you do stay unemployed and your benefits run out, you could take on any kind of job just to pay the bills, until you find something you truly like.

Some people get there by getting confident about their abilities and their value to employers. This is a great place to start from.

Others focus on their faith in God or the universe to help them in finding what’s right for them.

And sometimes, it takes going through the different stages of “mourning” – disbelief, anger, depression, acceptance. Not necessarily in that order. Can you see anything good coming when carrying out a job search during the phase of disbelief, anger, or depression? But once you hit acceptance, you open yourself up to new possibilities.

The thing is…when you operate from a feeling of hope and faith and positivity, you are also better able to see what’s right for you and make better decisions all along. When you’re in a panic, you’re more likely to make rush decisions that turn out to be not the greatest after all.

Having said all this…what I hope you get from this article is that devising a solid job transition strategy is a must but the great results will come when you combine it with an attitude based on calmness and faith (primarily in yourself but also in things turning out just fine for you).

I’m curious…have you experienced either scenario?