Showcase a Lifetime of Experience – Not a Catalogue of Classes

I see a lot of resumes in my position and one recently brought back memories of when I needed to update my own a few years ago. Back then, one of my challenges was how to keep resume concise and interesting without marginalizing my journey or what I had to offer my next employer. In the end I removed a long list of formal training classes, not only because the list took up a lot of real estate, but because it was just plain old and boring. And it didn’t adequately represent a complete picture of my experience and achievements. I realized that while the list demonstrated some great skills I had developed and still actively use today, it just didn’t seem relevant in today’s modern workplace.

What I really needed to communicate was in addition to being a diligent classroom student who takes the time to continuously learn and develop, I’ve also gained wisdom and results from making real-time decisions in demanding situations. Let’s face it – beyond a list of course names and credits, 90% of what we learn is through experience and interactions with others, while only 10% comes from formal training programs.

If I need to generate a new incentive program, I poll the go-to-market team to learn what worked in the past and which incentives failed – I don’t attend a class on incentives. If I need to prepare for a client meeting, I go to a social graph to locate people that can educate me on the account status of any outstanding escalations or engagements – I don’t access status reports that might not be current. If I want to see how our partners and clients are feeling about our new beta release, I check the product feedback community and participate in active conversations on the topic – I don’t wait for a PowerPoint deck with lessons learned. If I want to uncover some of the new features that are being introduced to our platform, I watch a few videos posted by MVPs whom I respect and trust and then ping them with a few inline questions – I don’t wait for a meeting.

I often learn in the face of a current challenge or decision that needs to be taken. At that point of need, I am focused on finding the right information. I might not be in the position to prepare in advance for the choices before me or to proactively buff up on topics. In each situation above, I immerse myself in our social workplace – one that provides an enormous amount of valuable knowledge in a variety of ways for me to learn where and when I need it. If you sit down and think about it, it’s easy to recognize you don’t just learn during scheduled class time, but rather you should be enabled to learn every moment of every day. This is learning in the new world of work.

What informal social learning opportunities do you have within your organization? Please share them with us in the comments. Or if you would prefer to reach out directly, feel free to ping me on Twitter (@mristeff) or email (


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