Table of Contents
Background: Where does this strategy come from?
What if you simply knew what to put on your resume to get hired, how much easier would that make life?
Understand the game so you can win
People in HR are actually human
Because we’re human, you need to market to us
1) Minimum words, maximum contrast
What better way to showcase what you’re capable of then to demonstrate it right up-front
3) We love things that benefit us
Please color outside the lines
Beating the 4.0 [Stanford] MBA
Accentuate the highs, minimize the lows
Background: Where does this strategy come from?
I am not looking for a job, and I haven’t looked for a job in many years. However, my team and I do hire: we’re always on the hunt for new, awesome, thinking, and resourceful people for our equally cool team. Over the past decade we’ve had over 7,000,000 (yes, seven million!) resumes flow through our system; I can remember two (2) that caught my eye, and I leaned in for a closer look.
We know what we’re looking for, and we see what that looks like on a resume – we see it immediately. Those get pulled out, the others don’t. It’s actually very rare to see anything that grabs our eye.
The problem is (for people looking for a job) that they make their resume look like everyone else’s. It’s obvious that they’ve taken the same old resume advice and come up with the same old resume.
What they thought made their resumes look good actually camouflages them.
We’re looking for something else, and when we see it, we know these people understand the game, and we want people on our team who understand the game.
We not only want these people, but we’d probably be willing to pay them more.
Why? It costs us less to bring them up to speed. They’re already there, and that’s worth a lot to us. Who would you rather hire? Someone who thinks the idea is to conform or to be unique? To blend in or to stand out? To look generic or resourceful? You get the point. But does your resume stand out the way you do? There’s a 99% chance it does not.
So when everyone else is making their resume look the same, what can you do you stand out – in a positive way? We’ll show you the one thing out of a thousand that grabs us. You can then look at your resume and decide how you want to play your hand going forward.
After all, you’re the best person for the job, right?
Life would be so much easier if they’d see that. So we fluff and pump and primp our resumes until the look so delicious to us that we think they will surely do the trick. We cast our bait out there and wait, and wait, and wait… Not enough happens, so we reel it back in, tweak the bait with some more fluffy words the career center suggests we slather on, and cast it back out there. Still nothing.
Why? Asking why… it’s exactly the right place to start. When you know the answer, the game becomes a lot easier. And that’s exactly what this is, a game.
Imagine a game that you now understand how to play, even though it used to be a complete mystery. At first you had no clue about how the game was played, but as you learned, you became good, even started winning. That’s exactly how all things work. 99.9% of everyone has a complete misconception of the hiring game.
First: We’ll shine a big light on the situation so you understand what you’re up against – millions of other people with resumes.
Second: We’ll show you a seam that allows you a different perspective, and when you’ve got that perspective, you see an ally, someone who wants you to find you – and hire you!
Third: We’ll show you how to come together with those allies who really do want to hire you – make it a hell of a lot easier for you to get noticed, even show you methods that speed results.
It Might Seem You’re Screwed
According to recent statistics from the government’s National Center for Education: “During the [average] school year, colleges and universities are expected to award 943,000 associate’s degrees; 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees; 778,000 master’s degrees; and 177,000 doctor’s degrees.” Add in the millions of others who are floating their resumes around and good luck getting noticed.
Even our “little” business; over the past decade we’ve had over 7,000,000 (yes, seven million!) resumes flow through our system; I can remember two (2) that caught my eye and I leaned in for a closer look.
So basically we’re as screwed as you.
We really do want to find you. The problem is you make it really hard to see you. What?
Stop for a second and change chairs; sit in ours for a moment and take a look at what we’re up against and why it’s so hard to find you.
1) If there are basically 2,000,000 new resumes out there every year, in addition to millions of others from people looking for a career change, you can see that finding the right person is a bit of daunting task for us.
2) When we get a pile of resumes, yes, we want the best candidate, but we don’t have all day to look as closely as we’d like.
3) After awhile most resumes look the same and we really don’t believe all the fluff we read. It can become a blur. It’s a real problem.
This is where you need to STOP AND PONDER. You need to ask yourself one question. The answer may change your course.
How can I look different, in a positive way, so they see me, really give me a look..and then a listen?
We call this “doing an Einstein.”
It’s stopping and pondering, like Einstein did, asking high value questions and then racing forward with clear intent. Look what it did for him! Most people who follow the same formula get better everything in life. You can too.
Maybe you even refine the question a bit to something like, ”How can I look different, in a positive way, to a company that I’d enjoy working and where they’d appreciate me. How can I get them to give me a look…then a listen…and even get paid more when they hire me?”
Your brain is a smart and powerful computer, and it will give you an answer for whatever you ask. But be careful what you ask it.
Feel free to come up with your own Einstein-style idea…. But make sure it’s high value and pulls you forward. (By the way, an example of a question that will take you completely in the opposite and wrong direction would be, “Why is nobody hiring me? Why do I have such bad luck?” Your brain will tell you equally crappy answers, like, “Because you’re worthless and weak, you’re not smart, you should have pushed for that internship back in your college years, because you’re really not that talented…”)
The questions to play around are the ones that will make your life get better. Let’s say your question is, “How can I look different, in a positive way, so they see me as the right person for the job?” Playing around with these thoughts, you might use pink paper, include a video, write upside down… there are a zillion different ways to look different. But remember, we’re looking for a positive way. The first thing to realize is what a challenge it is for HR to find you. The second thing? That the people looking for you are human.
People in HR are actually human.
Yep. Hard to believe, but we actually had our own people tested, results came back as HUMAN, blew us away. Of course I’m joking here, but sometimes it’s important to understand who/what you’re actually dealing with. In fact it’s critical!
The people looking at you and interviewing you are so human they’re prone to the same psychology, neuroscience, faults, reactions, thoughts, pressures and life as you and me.
Of course we all know this, but maybe 0.01% apply it. When you understand and apply this, your game changes.
What it means here is this:
Because we’re human, if you use marketing we’ll fall for it.
So getting my resume noticed is marketing? Yep. And perhaps the most important marketing project of your life. That said, you may need a quick primer in marketing. And if your background is marketing, let me introduce you to a little trick you can use that I’ve only see taught here.
The best marketing is timeless. It works today, it worked a thousand years ago, and it will world a thousand years from now. You can get a PhD in this subject, but we’re going to touch on three (3) little pieces of understanding that can get you massive benefit, quickly.
1) Minimum words, maximum contrast
Which fish catches your eye?
The human brain finds it hard to read and write (why you get tired reading), yet sees and understands contrasts quickly. Differences grab our attention while reading too much bores us. Leverage both.
That’s all you’re looking for at first; in marketing we call it a lean.
If the lean proves to be stupid, a hoax or makes me feel like I wasted my time (think today’s online sensational headlines that you click and then wish you had never seen), you’re lost. But if it’s clever or valuable to the reader, then they’ll want a little more. Now on track.
2) Clever surprises
Our brains are overworked, over-stimulated, and jaded. When we see things that surprise us we pay attention, especially to things that are simple and clever. What if the above were a cover letter, but you added some words, like this:
…If you could stand out in a better way, what might that mean for your business? I can help.
What better way to showcase what you’re capable of than to demonstrate it right up-front.
Then, in your interview you want to see their jaw drop? If so, say something like, “You noticed me, didn’t you? And here I am. Isn’t that what you want you want too–your marketing to get noticed so you then have the opportunity to get the business? That’s what I can do for you.”
Employers want resourceful thinkers. You just did demonstrate what they’ve been praying for. No one else will answer that prayer like you just did. It’s 100% impressive.
3) We love things that benefit us
We like things that benefit us. Features are ok, advantages to those features are a bit better, but we love the benefit to us. If you’ve ever been in or studied sales and marketing, you may have heard of features, advantages, and benefits. Those three are a big deal.
If not, here’s a quick primer:
Features: These are very tangible, like colors and shapes. Or where you went to school or where you’ve worked or what you’ve done (for example, expanded profit).
Advantages: Like…”Because it’s green it will match your eyes.” Or “Because I got a 4.0, I can bring smarts to your company.” “Because I have a BA in Marketing, I can bring marketing to your firm. (In other words, “I expanded profit previously, and can do the same for you.’)
Benefits: Like…”Because the green matches your eyes people will think you’re beautiful, treat you better, and you’ll be happier.” Or “Because I took a marketing course from REWIRE, I see what others don’t and can bring that you your firm, increase response rates, sales, and the bottom line. You can finally win more, work less, and enjoy life more. (The message: “I expanded profit, I can do the same for you, and the benefit is that you can move on to what’s next!”)
So, what is your resume selling–features, advantages or benefits?
You may have just realized that some of the resume advice you’ve received from very well-intended people is perfectly suited to get you nowhere. In fact…
Your resume isn’t about you at all! It’s really all about the benefit you bring to the employer.
WTF… Why hasn’t someone told me about this before?!
I’m not sure. Maybe it’s hard to get your head around. Maybe it used to be taught and it got lost along the way. Maybe in this it’s-all-about-me world, we think we don’t have to try that hard. OK, fine, maybe some people don’t. But maybe leave that not-trying-hard to the rest of the world while we take it upon ourselves to find something a bit deeper and more meaningful so we can get noticed – and appreciated – and get the life and career that makes life awesome.
So let me repeat: Your resume is not about you, it’s about the benefit you can provide.
That’s what you’re demonstrating in your resume! That will get their attention. Now maximize it!
Make HR’s job easier and they’ll love you from the start. Remember, I’m busy and bogged down in HR, help me do my job quicker and easier. Everybody looks 20%+/- the same. You can help me out here! Please!
This section is a whole variety of items that just make resumes easier for the relatively human HR person to love you and your resume.
Push it to the top
Push the relevant benefit to the top where I can see it quickly; save me time, it’s important to me. Rather than tell me what you’ve done in an order I may or may not understand, lay it out so I don’t have to work for it. Phrase all this stuff in a way that’s a benefit to me.
Do not risk me not understanding how your education or experience or personality or likes or dislikes or hobbies or volunteer experience helps me (the employer) achieve my goals.
Please color outside the lines.
Color outside, but not so far it scares us. You want to get a lean-in, not a shudder. If you’re too outlandish, the HR person may see you as possibly bat-shit-crazy and a risk. Color outside the lines showing your cleverness and control.
So many of us think that we have to change the way we write, speak, and otherwise communicate in busines. It’s like there’s this business-speak language that’s not comfortable at all. Please don’t strive for that. Please be you. Talk like you’re talking with a friend, and write that way too.
One of the best resumes I’ve ever seen started with “I love marketing…” That candidate went to the top of the heap. Our interview centered around that one sentence. I hired him.
If you just create a single resume and churn it out to the world and expect your phone to ring–well, it just doesn’t work that way. And really.. do you think you’re going to find your dream job in such an un-aware sort of process. If you really want to invest your life doing what you enjoy, you’ll need to go about it more strategically.
As in advertising, if you have just one offer, you run the risk of completely missing the target. And if you know your target’s motivation, then bring that part of your resume to the top so we can see it! Like this:
If your background is varied and you don’t care which of the three types of marketing jobs you get, then make three (3) versions of your resume, each featuring (see all of the above) one particular aspect of that profession. If you’re in marketing and I’m hiring for a PR-slanted marketing position, then you have a better chance with me if you feature PR to me. Feature analysis to the person looking for marketing analysis and feature web design to the person looking for web design. If you just say “marketing” and I have to search for relevance, you’re making me work too hard. Make it easy for me to say yes to you.
And if you went to a school where the alumni love to hire people from the same school, put your education credential at the top every time. So if you graduated from SMU and you’re sending your resume to an SMU alumni for a marketing position, I’d put SMU at the top, then relative marketing next, and so on.
Beating the 4.0 [Stanford] MBA
It’s the same way we think about marketing; we know we have competition (a lot of it) and we simply want to set ourselves apart from the competition in a way that gets our target to lean our way. Usually that’s something simple, clean, and clever. As I’ve said, it’s easy to look like everyone else, and doing that gets you nowhere. Simple, clean and clever is harder, much harder, but it’s what gets you noticed. It’s how you beat those with more experience, with higher GPA’s, who come from better schools. And if you are one of those with more experience and a high GPA from a better school, this is how you don’t get missed.
Accentuate the highs, minimize the lows
Let’s say you just graduated college with a degree in business, but rather than getting business experience in the summer, you took summer classes and did mowing and landscaping for the school district. Clearly you have no business experience and there’s really no good reason to hire you, right? Wait one second. Let’s get a little more resourceful here… There may be more to the story that you need to pull out. For example, what if you invested your own money trading currencies and deciding how to trade based on your expectations of the market’s psychological reaction to political events…and you won, you made money, your parents even placed a stack of cash with you to invest and you won for them too! I’d think, “Holy schneike, I need this kid, he’s the kind of freakin’ genius that doesn’t tumble out of school every day!”
Tap Your Network
When you put this type of thinking and intent into your resume, it will fire off a chain reaction of other things, like your being more clear about where you end up and therefore what kind of life you lead. This may also mean that you avoid the ineffective resume mills and market your benefits in a more intentional and meaningful way, too. We recommend tapping your network for a much faster uptake into a better career. You’ll get much farter much faster.
Please feel free to ask any employer in the world about the above. You should question everything, including me. Take a movement and re-craft your resume from a few different perspectives. When you customize your resume and look at it from another point of view, what do you see? How do you think your resume comes across? Get the views of people who can help, particularly if they’re employers. Ask them which resume connects with them, then use the winner. That’s basic A/B market testing, used by the best marketers in the world.
Do we recommend putting red fish on your cover letter..? Heck yes, if it’s appropriate, absolutely not if it’s not. But a clever surprise is a welcome relief, and if I employ you, it might mean a better life for me have someone like that around (big benefit). You decide how you want to play it. But test things and you’ll find what works.
Expect a better employer
The red fish resume is bait for a better employer; this method may just connect you with a company that thinks differently, a cool company, a company that you love as much as they love you. I understand that some of us are just wanting a job, the first job, any job, but what you may find using this technique is that you (one who colors outside the lines) connect with an employer who appreciates the same. Those employers are more interesting, and you may just find that working with a company that values interesting is simply better.
If you love the red fish, all I want from you is a fat smile in a pic. Send it with comments about your new ideas, thinking, and direction.
We’ll post it. You can tell all your friends and be world famous.
More photos, more love
After you get a really cool job, send more! Let’s keep in touch.