Boost Your Quiet Son’s Confidence. Build His Resumé.

Credit: Anthony Ginsbrook at Unsplash.

My son is one of those quiet guys. Doesn’t talk a lot. Doesn’t like to brag. Has some good ideas about life and basically has his head on straight, but lacks confidence in himself. So when it comes to getting out there and finding a new job, pursuing an opportunity, or promoting himself, he’s a little reserved.

Recently, he decided he needed more work hours this summer, so he decided to apply at the “adventure zone” place in town. They didn’t need an application, only a resumé, which he didn’t have. So he found some online templates and got to work.

The education section of the resumé came first. It was easy. Graduated from high school in 2016. Has one year completed at a local technical community college earning his general education credits plus a few hours in audio engineering.

Next, work experience. He listed his current job, a clerk at a gourmet kitchen store at the downtown riverfront shopping complex. He handles sales, straightens displays, stocks inventory, cleans. He even occasionally earns free perks like espresso sets when he sells a pricey Le Creuset crock, for example. In addition, he’s the only male on staff, and the store manager relies on him for heavy lifting, basic carpentry, repairs, and other chores. I must say that he wears the uniform, a black chef’s apron, well.

After that, he added his first job, a year-and-a-half stint as a sales associate at a GAP outlet. He thought back on all that the job entailed: lots of folding, ringing up sales, answering questions, attending the fitting room. He figured out a way to put all that into a descriptive sentence or two.

And then he was stumped. Two jobs weren’t enough, he acknowledged. Well, I nudged, now is when you really think about everything — and I mean everything — that you’ve done or have experience in, and realize that it counts, too. Don’t underestimate your accomplishments.

Soon, he remembered that a few months ago, an old friend had asked him to help out with his band, a local foursome that performs country covers, a couple of their own songs, and a handful of funk favorites. My son agreed to help out. He handled the tracks, helped with set-up, and made the shows run smoother. However, because it was a job with a friend, he had downplayed its importance. Since then, they’ve done a couple of performances, and it’s blossomed into a real job –albeit a sporadic one — with the very real title of stage manager. He added it to the list.

Then he remembered something else. In high school, because he was part of the technical crew for the theater department, he was paid by the district $10 an hour to set up and “do the sound” for productions performed by other schools in the district. For example, he helped with elementary and middle school plays, evening concerts, high school graduation. This work gave him some solid experience. But again, because it was a job associated with school, he had downplayed that one, too. So he added “sound technician” to the list and thought some more.

Then I remembered something. Weren’t you on a leadership council for drama? I asked. He explained that yes, he had been, but all the seniors had been in leadership positions. That’s just the way it worked, he said, implying that it wasn’t important. But then he caught himself. He realized he had downplayed himself again and added another entry to the growing list.

He thought of one last experience when he recalled a mission trip he took a couple of years earlier. On the trip, the group stayed in a local church and provided soccer lessons to the neighborhood kids. Again, he didn’t think it was a worthwhile experience for his resumé; however, he had spent a lot of time preparing for the week-long camp, preparing lessons and playing soccer late into the night. It deserved to go on the resumé, for what it was worth.

When he was finished, he couldn’t believe it. With six different work positions, he had much more experience than he had realized. He proofed the resumé, read it through again, and uploaded it to the adventure zone’s website. The manager got back later that day to tell him that they were fully staffed at the time. Bummer.

Even though writing his resume didn’t result in a job, he learned something far more important: that he’s more accomplished than he had realized. There are no doubt other young men out there like my son who are seeking their place in the world and aren’t sure if they’re ready. If your son is one of those boys, encourage him to create a resumé. Listing his accomplishments will create an objective, tangible record of his past and current jobs, big and small. It will boost his confidence instantly.

Originally published at on June 22, 2017.