Archive for November 2009

They Shoot Muffins, Don’t They?

November 23, 2009

A few months ago, I stood looking at myself in the full length mirror in my dressing room as I struggled to fit 45 years of bad eating habits and a total disregard for exercise into the waist of my dress slacks. I knew it was happening; I just enjoyed the status quo to the point that I would simply blame the clothing manufacturers for sub par materials that seemingly shrunk before my very eyes.

I sucked in for one last glorious attempt to fasten the brave clasp and zipper that would attempt to contain all l that I had become. I stood, glaring at the form before me, as the old axiom, “you are what you eat” hit home in a big way, when I suddenly realized how much I had in common with a giant blueberry muffin that had been yesterday’s snack on the way to work. I headed to the closet to rifle through my shirts, looking for at least one with enough girth to somehow camouflage the aforementioned midsection. But soon I was faced with the fact that the same people who made my ‘incredible shrinking slacks’ must have gotten to the shirt guys too.

Exasperated, I chose a tan one, and turned back towards the mirror to finish getting dressed. Once my shirt was buttoned and tucked in, the transformation I had hoped for fell short of the reality. Now, instead of a pasty white muffin, I looked like a freshly baked golden brown one. That didn’t help my outlook for the day at all. And, to add insult to injury, I was now starving for, you guessed it, a nice warm blueberry muffin!!

On my drive to work that day, I pondered the vision of my out of shape physique and decided it was well past time for a change. So, over the next few weeks I read and researched all I could about ways to change that reflection, and before long I was eating healthier, working out on a regular basis and appreciating more and more what I saw in the mirror. What in the world does any of this have to do with a resume?

Well first of all, it’s no secret that we all outgrow our resumes. With every new job we take on, we must fit that new experience into a space that may be getting a little tight. That also goes for degrees, and certifications that we pick up along the way, as well. And just like the guy who’s trying to fit his size 38 waist into a pair of size 34 slacks, those new experiences can be left on the outside of the waist band in a usually not very attractive manner. Just as I was able to get help for my somewhat rotund shape, the professional resume writer can take what you have become and help mold it into a more desirable form.

Yes, you can always buy more paper and add those new items to the bottom of the page, and I could have simply bought new bigger clothes to help conceal the additions I had made. But at the end of the day, that simply is not the best answer.

You must make an investment of time, money and energy in anything you wish to accomplish. Since the day I chose to make that change in myself, I have not regretted one workout session or been unhappy with the decision to eat healthier. It was hard getting started, but the results have been well worth the pain. So, if you haven’t looked in the mirror at your resume lately, maybe its time for a check up that could lead to a whole new outlook for you career.

Written by Rob Poindexter, sales executive and sailor, who, as Jacqui’s husband and business partner, provides an observer’s perspective to job search coaching and resume writing.

Create Curb Appeal to Attract Interviews

November 9, 2009

curb appealNever so much did the term, “Resume Real Estate” resonate until I was tasked to sell my home.

“I want to sell my home ‘as-is,’” I firmly asserted to my real estate agent.  It’s a beautiful home in a great neighborhood and is an ideal opportunity for the right buyer. Standing head and shoulders among its peer group, I felt, this home offered a unique opportunity that would be obvious to the right buyer, and they would know to make an offer – and quickly!

Not only was the home of high quality, positioned in an established neighborhood with a track record of success (e.g., the neighborhood quiet, the homeowners’ association upkeep consistent, the reputation for the city’s upscale attitude broad-ranging, the schools high-caliber – the list goes on), but it also was uniquely located off of a key corridor in the community – easy to get everywhere else from here. Its value speaks for itself!

So … why the continual stream of visitors but no offers?

Hooking the Buyer With First Impressions

Over the next several weeks and months I gained clarity — through a series of buyer feedback messages and conversations with my professional real estate agent, here’s what I discovered: Other homeowners were going an extra few miles to market themselves and “hook” the buyer, and it was making a big difference! Further, the extra miles they pursued were based directly on the target market’s needs. Moreover, the marketing strategies included appealing to buyers’ emotions – a key component to their ultimate decision to buy.

These competitors were not discounting the value of creating a “wow” first impression, beyond the inherent value that the visitors were able to seek out after initially being hooked in.

These competitors of mine were investing in their marketing – from buying new carpet to painting the entire interior to installing new appliances and more. And first impressions were counting! The seller wasn’t expecting the buyer to “envision” or “imagine” the potential of the home – they were underscoring the home’s magnificence by placing an up-front investment with the confidence and hope that the investment would pay off – that an ROI was in store. When that would happen was not known or even guaranteed to happen. These home sellers were taking a calculated risk.

Targeting Buyers’ Real Needs

Further, the competing home sellers’ marketing approach was based on the target buyers’ real (rather than perceived) needs. I discovered I hadn’t been honing in on my target market’s real needs. One of my mantras regarding the value of my home was: “I just invested in a new air conditioning and heating system, so of course the buyer will immediately and intellectually interpret the value of these items just as much as if I had painted the walls or added carpet.” However, my target market (single individual/couple/parent and child) seemed to be more transient in nature, and fulfilling long-term needs such as the need for a reliable, long lasting AC/heating system was lower priority.

In short, if the buyers’ areas of pain include a need to buy a freshly carpeted/painted home so that they may immediately settle into a comfortable routine (without the burden of installing carpet and painting walls) then that is what I must address. Without this focus, I was being weeded out of the buyers’ processes before I had a chance to really engage them beyond first impressions with the subtle qualities and nuances of my special home.

Parallels Between Home Sellers and Job Searchers

This experience struck a cord with me in how my attitude has paralleled that of some my (less-informed) resume prospects! They are ready for a job search, and they want to initiate it NOW – “as-is” with little preparation or respect for the processes or preparation for creating their “curb appeal,” as it were in order to really wow “their” buyers – the employers.

Those job seekers who haven’t been educated about the importance of communicating value drivers and focus just want a “simple” resume that outlines, without any flash or exaggeration “who I am and what I do / have achieved.” No pomp and circumstance and no real up-front investment of time or money should be necessary – “the employer will be able to read between the lines the value I offer them if I simply outline where I worked, my titles and a bulleted listing of responsibilities and accomplishments. They should be ‘hooked into’ me, though my presentation is plain vanilla and uninspiring.”

Their resume marketing, therefore, lacks emotional appeal – how will they, as the employee, influence the employer that they are immediately qualified to solve specific PAIN? To do this, they must identify a target market and then go out on a limb, market to a specific audience and address particular needs (not just overpower the employer with ideas of what is assumed they most wish to hear).

For example, a sales professional may wish to transition their focus to opportunities that are more product development focused than sales focused. However, they may miss the boat by quickly writing a resume that speaks heavily to sales goals, sales teams, territory growth and more because that seems to be the easiest and most natural way to outline their reverse chronological history of experience.

As a result, the experiences listing may deemphasize product development/launch or present it in a low-level way, burying the candidates’ value to the target company, and making it too much work for the hiring authority to understand that indeed, the candidate is a perfect match. The hiring authority, therefore, will most likely move on to a candidate that showcases the product development information in a “wow first impression” way, attending to the company’s specific needs.

In summary, the components of marketing oneself to sell special value in a job search and marketing one’s home to sell in the real estate market are strikingly similar. Although negotiating the final sale/job is about much more than initial curb appeal and marketing enticement, without that initial hook and “wow first impression” to entice the buyer, home sellers and job seekers most likely will stall the attainment of their ultimate goal.