Ah, so many career experts… all ready to impart their wisdom. And, seemingly, all ready to make you and your career fit into some kind of template, for no other reason than convenience – theirs, or yours.
This is not a new trend, of course. It has always been easiest to build a template and then cram your personality and experience into a model that worked well for someone else. Experts call it “best practices” or “strategic emulation”.
I can’t tell you how many resumes I see that look alike. However, I can tell you how many really stand out: almost none.
Because we see clichés like “detail oriented”, “passionate”, and “a leader and team player” on everyone’s resumes, we feel we must have those words on our resume. Because everybody else’s resumes are in black and white, ours must be also.
Due to the prolific use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), we believe our resumes must be chock full of keywords and acronyms. And because everyone else is afraid to “brag” about themselves, we fail to stand out as a unique contributor.
I’m calling “bull”. Taking it a step further, I’m calling most resumes “bull” – because almost none of them I’ve seen lately have a snowball’s chance in hell of helping their author get hired. They all look the same, and say the same thing: “Blah, blah, blah… ba blah.”
- Don’t tell me you’re passionate… show me:
“My work outside work is important; I volunteer as a mentor for youth and with Habitat for Humanity”
- Don’t say you are detail oriented… instead, say something that means something:
“’Attention to detail’ is a cliché, so let’s just say I passed ‘detail-oriented’ in the slow lane and could be considered borderline obsessive (in a good way, of course!)”
- Leadership and teamwork is important, yes… but if you are sincerely interested in leadership or contributing to a team, wouldn’t you have specific examples to cite?
“Motivated my team to grow at an annual rate of 97%; we now support 267 major customers compared to 35 in 2009.”
- Be different… be human:
“My favorite quote: ‘Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.’ by Dr. Seuss”.
Think in a new way.
You go to a networking event. Everyone is dressed pretty much the same; dark suit – business casual. Everybody in the room is equally nervous; almost no one is smiling; everyone is using their “inside voice”. Without fail, mini-circles are formed of those who already know each other. Talk focuses on “What do you do?” and “Isn’t this weather unusual?”
Then… in walks “Joey”. Joey is wearing a bright yellow shirt and a green bow tie. His smile would light up a coal mine at midnight. With a booming, confident voice just a little louder than most, Joey introduces himself to anyone and everyone; he talks about anything but “What do you do?” and the weather.
Joey makes people laugh; he gets them engaged in meaningful conversation; he breaks down the mini-circles through impromptu introductions. Joey gets people thinking.
The next day… Joey is the one guy everybody remembers.
Your resume needs to be a Joey.
Take a chance. Stand out. Show a sense of humor and some personality. Create a resume that sells you and what you care about. Be remembered. While your competition uses the templates and advice that only makes them a clone of every other candidate… be a genuine original.
Mark Babbitt, the CEO and Founder of YouTern, is a serial entrepreneur and mentor and a passionate supporter of Gen Y talent. Mark contributes to 12Most.com, Glassdoor and Business Insider. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter:@YouTernMark.