I attended a presentation Thursday that was part of the Disability Management and Return to Work Committee presentation at the IAIABC. It was held in Couer d'Alene, ID as part of the Forum 2014 event held by the regulators organization.  

Vickie Kennedy, Assistant Director for Insurance Services for Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industry, was reviewing the success her agency is seeing from a new commitment and effort to deploy a consistent and effective Return to Work program. Near the end of her presentation, she was covering some of the tools they use for this effort. Near the bottom of the list on the projector screen before us was this little gem; Resume Writing. 

My initial thoughts? Yawn. Make that snooze. Seriously? Resume writing? As an effective tool for return to work? Images flashed through my mind of a lifeless job placement agency; it's dank gray and featureless walls encasing bored applicants and even more bored agency employees slogging through the day producing mundane and useless resumes for a world that doesn’t rely much on them anymore. The only colorful item in the room was the calendar marking off the number of days until the agency employees could retire and escape this dead end and futile function. No, in my mind “resume writing” was a complete waste of time as a return to work assistive device.

Except I could not have been more wrong.

Ms. Kennedy, when she got to that particular bullet point, said simply that “Resume writing” was found to be quite useful, since by doing so they could get the injured worker to think about their skills, and those things they still may be able to do.

Oh.

Well now, that made sense. Perhaps I judged too quickly.

Any function that can help an injured worker focus on both skills and their future is indeed a strong assistive device for Return to Work. Ms. Kennedy and her agency are correct, writing a detailed resume can indeed accomplish this. Through the art of resume development, a worker can review and list their skills, and may start thinking of options and opportunities that initially had escaped their thought processes. Too often workers who cannot perform the job they have done for many years just give up, assuming they have no options. The exercise of sitting down and focusing on their own experience and ability can get them “thinking outside the box”. That is exactly what we all need to do when it comes to getting these people back to a productive role in society.

For me it was a brief epiphany, and a strong takeaway point from the session. There was a great deal of discussion along the RTW topic at the forum this year, and I will cover that in more detail next week.  

But for today I am off to Philadelphia, to attend the Kids’ Chance National Conference. I am speaking tomorrow on the use of Social Media in promoting this worthy cause (learn more at www.kidschance.org). When I’m done with that, perhaps I’ll dust off my resume and tone it up a bit. 

I’m bound to find a skill in there somewhere.

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