Eating Bananas Doesn’t Make You an Ape

As co-coordinator with my colleague, Miriam Salpeter, I am proud to help launch a new community of expert career advisors and resume writing professionals called the Career Collective. Today’s post is one of many responses to the question, “Are you a cookie cutter job seeker?” I encourage you to visit other members’ responses, which will be linked at the end of my reply later this afternoon! Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.

~~~~~

So, you are the guy with the master’s degree in the same thing your job competitors have a

Bunch of Bananas_hf

master’s degree in. At your last position you were personally responsible for _______________. Fill in the blank with one of the following answers, A. Increasing Sales, B. Increasing Productivity or C. Team Building.

Guess what? So did 99% of the other applicants.

You are just like every other cookie on the sheet. Same size, cooked for the same amount of time, same golden brown color, same texture.

What real difference does it make to one eating the cookies as to which row on the sheet the cookie came from, they are all exactly alike. Just pick one, eat it and move on.

The same holds true in the world of look alike resumes. Same old blah, blah, blah. For the most part hiring managers could take them, fling them in the air, grab one from the pile as they float to the floor, and make his or her decision based on that highly technical and thorough, technique.

You must stand out from the crowd. Especially in today’s highly competitive job market.

One of the best ways to stand out of course is to work with a professional who will ferret out those things that you either don’t think are important or you may have forgotten about.

How many times have you sat down to write your own resume, or a letter to your mother, or a note to your spouse for that matter, and after sending it to the recipient thought to yourself, “Oh, I forgot to mention this , or that?”

Had you consulted with someone first, the odds of leaving anything out would have been greatly diminished. That is the beauty of having your resume professionally written. Once the worksheet is done, you have had the opportunity to spend time thoroughly going over your career up to this point. All the while your resume writer asks probing questions that allow them to get down to the nuts and bolts of who you are and how you were able to accomplish those successes.

Almost every Saturday night during sailing season a group of us sit around and tell stories about recent sailing adventures. We laugh at each other, compliment each other and offer ideas on how to do it better. But the most fun part is when someone else tells a story about what I did or didn’t do. Now , I could tell the same story about myself, and all the facts would remain. But listening to someone else tell the same story from their unique perspective is always a hundred times more entertaining, not just to me, but to the rest of the crew as well.

The same holds true with allowing an expert “story teller” tell your story.

You are what you are and most people are not professional writers. Professional writers, or at least successful professional writers, spend much of their time researching the English language and constantly are on the lookout for better ways to express thoughts and ideas.

You’ve worked too long and too hard at becoming a success to wind up just another cookie on the tray. So why not make sure the one in charge of cookie selection is aware that you have a lot more chips then the other guys.

~~~~~

Please link below to additional ‘Cookie-Cutter” blog posts from Career Collective members:

Megan Fitzgerald, Career By Choice’s Expat Success Tips: Ongoing Career management is No Longer Optional for the Expat in Today’s New World of Work

Gayle Howard, Top Margin:  Sabotaging Your Prospects: Cookie-cutter Style

J.T. O’Donnell, CAREEREALISM: Cookie Cutters are for Baking…Not Job Searching!

Chandlee Bryan: The Emerging Professional: On the “Cookie Cutter” Approach to Job Search: Do You Need a Recipe?

Laurie Berenson, Sterling Career Concepts: Job seekers: Break out of the mold!

Dawn Bugni The Write Solution: Dawn’s Blog: Is your job search “cookie-cutter” or “hand-dropped”?

Rosa Vargas, Creating Prints Resume-Writing Blog: Being a Cookie-Cutter Job Seeker is a Misfortune

Heather Mundell, life@work: How Not to Be a Cookie Cutter Job Seeker

Sweet Careers: Passive Job Seeker=Cookie Cutter Job Seeker

Barbara Safani Career Solvers Blog: Cookie Cutter Resumes Can Leave a Bad Taste in the Hiring Manager’s Mouth

Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers: How Can a Job Seeker Stand Out?

Katharine Hansen, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog: Avoiding Being a Cookie-Cutter Job-seeker in Your Resume and Throughout Your Job Search

Heather R. Huhman, HeatherHuhman.com: Break the Mold: Don’t Be a Cookie Cutter

Rosalind Joffe, WorkingWithChronicIllness.com: Forget the Cookies! Start With Vision

Hannah Morgan, Career Sherpa: Are You a Cookie-Cutter Job Seeker?


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19 Comments on “Eating Bananas Doesn’t Make You an Ape”


  1. [...] Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter of Career Trend Eating bananas doesn’t make you an ape [...]


  2. Whether you hire someone to write your resume or do it yourself, if you don’t paint a picture of yourself that sets you apart from all the other ‘cookies on the sheet’ you will not get noticed! That’s more true in this job market than it’s ever been.

    Take the time to determine what makes you unique and how to present that effectively. Simply stating the fact of your employment history and responsibilities is not likely to get you a phone call.

    Great points Jacqui!

    • careertrend Says:

      Thanks Harry!

      Always appreciate your ‘recruiter’s’ viewpoint. And as you pointed out, particularly in this job market, it’s tough to get noticed unless you are taking time to determine your uniqueness and then presenting it effectively.

      Appreciate your input and perspective, as always!

      Jacqui


  3. [...] Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Career Trend Blog: Eating Bananas Doesn’t Make You an Ape [...]

  4. jefflipschultz Says:

    Each of us are different no matter what our education or role in a company. We each can tell a story or two that makes us different. Something we championed or discovered or executed that changed the environment we worked in.

    I’m not talking about increasing sales or reducing costs. I’m talking about a project that turned heads, a program that changed the way business is done. Resumes must engage the reader to truly communicate the story that is your career.

    This is not an easy task. Make sure that you have a resume that encapsulates who you are and what you’ve accomplished.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

    P.S. The Career Collective looks like a great group–I know many of them and can vouch for their passion for their craft.

    P.S.S. All this talk of bananas and cookies has got me hungry. Time to find something tasty.

    • careertrend Says:

      Hi Jeff!
      Love your examples of how to tell a compelling story. A ‘project that turned heads’ or a ‘program that changed business practices’ — yes! This is exactly what a practiced and engaging rssume consultant will cull from job seekers in preparing their resume story.

      Appreciate your input, and also appreciate your support of our new Career Collective! Passionate we are! And your passion aa a recruiter translates in your vivid advice.

      Jacqui

  5. dawnbugni Says:

    Jacqui –

    You’re so right about job seekers being able to differentiate themselves during a search. I ask my clients for recent positions they’ve held, “Is there anything you’re done in this position that really stands out in your mind? Something that fixed a long-standing problem? An irate customer you calmed? An account you courted and landed? Anything?” You would be shocked, as am I, at how few people have even one story of wonderfulness to convey at the start of the process.

    I tell them they have to take that “don’t brag, don’t boast” filter out of their head. Eventually, with some coaxing and coaching we ferret out the things that make them stand out, but they don’t come prepared to shout their accomplishments from the mountain. The ability to tell their story comes through working with a professional, committed to their success and helping discover all the greatness of what they previously thought was a “mundane” career.

    Excellent, excellent information, as always, Jacqui!

  6. Gayle Howard Says:

    Terrific post Jacqui! Love how you painted the word picture of the guy with the Masters degree. That is so true. Everyone in the class did the same thing, were taught the same thing, and if they passed, then they all passed (varying degrees of excellence). Differentiating from a group of people like that is exactly like the “cookies on a sheet” that you have described so vividly. It’s a different time now, opportunities are few and competition is high and candidates are under greater scrutiny. If ever there was a time to want to stand out, try harder, differentiate yourself and be proactive, this is sure it!


  7. Jacqui,

    It’s so true that it often takes a professional to help extract and effectively express those nuggets of value that set people apart. It’s amazing how so many people are stuck – not getting results – but are unwilling to invest in assistance to achieve what they want in their professional life – which is where they spend most of their waking hours!

    I look forward to exploring future career collective topics with you!

    All the best,
    Megan


  8. Jacqi:
    It is more fun to listen to others tell stories of us! It is easy for them to do so as well. This is why networking is so key! People who have seen you in action, can tell their glowing stories of your successes. It means more coming from others sometimes. This doesn’t give any job seeker permission not to develop their stories. They need to become excellent story tellers (with your guidance, of course!)
    I bet it is fun sitting around with the group of sailing buddies! Sounds like good camaraderie.


  9. Jacqui,

    Great perspectives…I worked in university career services for over eight years, and saw hundreds of those “master’s degree” resumes. One of the strategies I frequently recommend for job seekers in that situation is to talk to others outside of their field–including friends and family–to get a sense of perspective and what makes them unique. Then talk to people in the hiring field about their biggest needs are. As you mention, the odds of leaving the essential ingredient out are greatly diminished when you’ve consulted with others!

    Thanks for your leadership in starting this new initiative!

    All the Best,
    Chandlee

  10. Dave Opton Says:

    Jacqui,

    Where you find the time between your work, sailing, blogging, tweeting and everything else you are involved with I haven’t a clue, and even more depressing is that the quality of what you have to say is always so well put!

    As for me, I am adjourning to the bar!

    Dave


    • Dave,
      Thanks for stopping in again! I’m always honored to know you’ve read my blog or other writings. Moreso, I’m flattered that you feel the words are ‘quality-focused’ – always what I aspire to!

      If I weren’t passionate about ‘words,’ then it wouldn’t all get done, but I’m blessed with being immersed in a field that inspires me, and hopefully, helps others.

      Collaborating with you, and the smart, kind and visionary ExecuNet team is part of what keeps me ‘trucking along.’

      That said, hope your weekend is lovely, and that the bar visit last evening was a respite from business! I’ll be off to a lovely movie/appetizers/drinks this evening!

      Jacqui


  11. Jacqui – I couldn’t agree with you more. (No surprise!) One thing my clients often comment on is that they “never knew they had so many skills and accomplishments!” I know we in the “biz” are a bit biased, but there’s no question that job seekers who work with professionals to be sure that they tell a strong story have the advantage. What better investment is there?

    I’m so thrilled to be partnering with you to create and manage the Career Collective and excited about our plans for the future!


  12. [...] Job Seeker Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Career Trend Blog: Eating Bananas Doesn’t Make You an Ape,http://careertrend.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/eating-bananas-doesnt-make-you-an-ape/ Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers: How Can a Job Seeker Stand [...]


  13. Jacqui,

    Excellent points! It can be hard to tell your own story because often you are too close to it. Gathering the perspective of others makes the story richer, bolder, and more compelling.


  14. Not only are you a lyric and visual writer but you make such a key point seem obvious! Love the comparison to sharing sailing stories. We learn so much from others. I’ve learned so much reading all this information from the other collective contributors and from reading HOW people say it. Thanks for inviting me into this talented group!


  15. I think that it is highly likely that the Career Collective will be and should forever be associated with the concept of “cookie cutter resumes.” It’s a brilliant phrase!

    For the past several years, personal branding has needed a simple way to describe the goal of every job seeker to stand out as a unique resource. Every job seeker wants and needs to differentiate themselves from other, often similarly, qualified candiates.

    For JobWhiz clients, I aim to identify what distinguishes each senior level executive from potential competitors for their ideal career challenge. My goal is to create a remarkable value proposition that employers will recall instantly and that conveys to the decision maker how this individual will deliver for the organization by increasing profits, reducing costs or improving process.

    A cookie cutter resume will never generate the strong first impression that will stick in a busy decision maker’s memory. As each of the writers have stated, a potential employee has to provide a strong, remarkable and memorable presentation via their resume that will captivate the reviewer, attract respect and command attention and motivate the employer to seek out more information about this individual.

    So we now know what the resume cannot and should not be, a “cookie cutter” document. But how best to simply state what an effective res? How about considering the term, one of a kind or extraordinary or outstanding or unique or custom. These do not seem to be sufficiently powerful terms. If the best label has already been coined and I missed it, my apologies. Sometimes, I think saying what something is NOT communicates what it IS.
    Debra Feldman, JobWhiz
    Executive Talent Agent

  16. careertrend Says:

    Thanks so much for your insightful comments, Debra!

    You’re right about cookie-cutter resumes never being able to ‘stick’ in a decision-maker’s mind. Be different, be bold, be extraordinary! Yes!

    Good point about saying what something is ‘not’ to help communicate what it ‘is.’ (I hadn’t quite thought of it that way before.)

    Although 2 ‘equally’ qualified candidates may be vying for same job, it truly is a mix of factors that will determine their being offered the job … or not, and the value proposition message (which stems from a multiply refined, tightly knit together resume message) WILL impact that decision.

    Thanks so much for your support of the Career Collective! Stop by any time!!

    Jacqui


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