Every time I take a look at someone’s resume, I feel like I get a little window into their soul. How do they talk about themselves? What do they think is the best way of delivering that information?

In our newest series Career Timelines, members of the Support Driven community show us a bit of themselves by using the familiar format of their traditional resume with a little twist: instead of including information about the roles and functions that they fulfilled within each role, they’ll speak to what the most valuable thing they learned to advance themselves in their career was.


Doug Aitken

“Butchers boy” – 2000 through summer 2002

Lesson #1 – Treat every job like it is worthwhile / give it your all.

Before I left high school, I worked in a butchers shop. This meant prepping meats, making pies and pastries, and serving customers. Before coming into it, I knew nothing about the process beyond “I can walk in and ask for some meat”. Two years later and I was proficient in everything I needed to be. It was also my first exposure to customer service, I liked chatting to the regular customers in the front shop, discussing everything and anything in the early mornings with my boss, and understood that you can’t just give people their requests, it is best to know what people are asking.


Stockroom worker, retail store – 2006

Lesson #2 – If nothing is in order in the background, nothing will work on the customer facing.

I’m unsure how this translates across the globe but you could walk into this shop, choose what you wanted from a catalogue of products, then type that into a machine. Once you’ve paid, a machine in the back of the shop printed a ticket – it had a location for the product. You bring that out and give it to the customer. That won’t work unless the stock room containing the products was in order. More than a few times something wasn’t in its correct place due to a delivery not being checked off, or we had excess stock which meant someone didn’t get that computer console since the system said no, even though we had it. This applies to software product teams as well – if you have a problem with the product, your customers won’t be happy. It’s simple, but if you can’t organise it, the process will break down.


Call centre agent, UK retailer, 2006 – 2014

Lesson #3 – Be curious, don’t just do your core work if it isn’t satisfying.

Throughout my career with “the Big T”, I worked across a variety of product areas and team, and after a few years, I realised I “liked” to know things. “Why did that do that? Who would I talk to get actually get this changed? Is my work insignificant?”

The business became one of the first in the UK to look into mobile apps, it wasn’t a surprise when I realised that a few people who started the online business were still working for the company. Long story short I got testing the Android app for groceries and was invited to spend a week in the Research and Development team at the head office. I didn’t have to do that, I could have done my job, answered calls and helped colleagues, but I liked tech and wanted to get involved in the wider business.

There is obviously a balance here, ignoring your job and doing things just because you like won’t help. Help augment your worth by reinvesting what you know to improve the company. More than a few times I used what I’d learned myself to help out. Since then, I’ve looked to gain extra knowledge, never satisfied with status quo, and in a way, I wish I could let my younger self understand that this wasn’t in vain, I’d end up working for a company who wants me to have this balance of core work and other responsibilities.


Phone sales person, UK telco shop, 2014

Lesson #4 – It’s not a failure to realise a dream is just that, a dream, but learn from it.

Working with mobile phones, making sure people got the best out of their handset, what a great job! Or so I thought. Turns out, sales isn’t for me. Having targets of X number of sales, £Y of contracts sold per week was draining, for me it sucked the fun out of what I thought would be great. That isn’t to say I didn’t learn a lot, and that was my take away. I knew that selling things to people wasn’t a strong point, but I was brilliant at educating people about mobile data usage (Snapchat uses HOW MUCH?!), about which handset was best for them, and understanding that everyone approached a product differently.


Poker Room Dealer, UK casino, 2015

Lesson #5 – Every job you do has learning points and is part of your journey.

This is the role which spurred a post on my own blog in late 2016, that Mercer then thought would be good to spin into this post.

A poker dealer who now works at a tech company? Yes. But what could possibly be a useful skill to take from a job dealing cards to supporting e-commerce software and website building tools? Similar to the phone sales but in a more pronounced fashion – everyone has a level of understanding, educating someone is more powerful than doing it for them. This is two-fold, when I applied for this job I knew almost nothing about poker, it was a card game where the Ace of Spades was best, people of all skill levels played in the card room I worked in, making them feel valued went a long way.

I spent weeks learning all the intricacies of the Poker game, I couldn’t play well, but after training, I could deal well. Someone taught me those skills, then on the tables you’d have people with similar experience to me when I started, and I helped them. The experienced players weren’t left out, they’d help me, I’d correct them if needed, and all while having that in person “banter”.

The actual mechanics of Poker and the basics of the job, I don’t need these days, but the soft skills that we often talk about in the Support industry, are still used, I levelled up while working there. I didn’t lie when asked if this was what I wanted to do, but I enjoyed the job and the environment that came with it. Was that role crucial in my career? Not so much, but due to the shift work, I was able to spend time with my family, and trial at my current company.


People talk about New Year resolutions, and what we’ve learned from the past year, take a look at your career and you’ll be surprised what lessons you have learned in the most unexpected places.

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