I recently worked with a soon-to-graduate, elementary school teacher. She came as a referral from a close friend of hers. When working with students, I’m careful to explain my approach to resume creation and the reality of Job Search 2012. I go on to share, frequently, my techniques will not align with what they have been taught about resumes and job search along the way. I continue, many career centers and career preparation courses are up to speed on the rapidly-changing job search market. Sadly though, many are not.
I crafted a bold presentation taking skills gained through summer jobs, volunteer work, and student teaching assignment and projected those skills into the needs of the potential employer. We used job posting information, her knowledge of the industry, and my resume-writing experience to weave key words throughout the document. We responded to the needs of the potential employer with a solid demonstration of how she had what they needed.
I took it a step further. She wanted to be an elementary school teacher so I incorporated primary green into the format and layout. I used crayons as bullets in her academic experience section. I worked in a quote from her adviser further shoring up her value and potential as a new teacher. I created a strong skill summary immediately responding to company needs in the top third of the first page – a resume within a resume so to speak. I made sure the resume “said” “I am an elementary school teacher” from the first glance to final period. It presented her value boldly and truthfully. It was (is) an attention-grabbing presentation.
She was thrilled with the result, understood the strategy needed to compete in today’s employment environment, and grasped the difference between a career autobiography and a career sales and marketing document. She also knows career autobiographies don’t convey value. They tell what you did and leave the extrapolation of value to the reader. News flash. They won’t extrapolate for or about you.
She told me, part of her curriculum was to submit her resume to her campus career center. I reminded her of the potential for conflicting information. I reminded her career centers are often stretched, administering to thousands of students. They frequently have neither the time, staff, nor funding to have someone committed to monitoring the job search changes a changing economy brings or update the guidance and programs as hiring environments undulate. I told her, I frequently see job search guidance that worked in the ’90s purported as the way to conduct a job search today. NOTHING. I repeat, NOTHING is further from the truth. She submitted her information, eyes wide open to the fact what we had done would most likely conflict with what the center told her.
This week, she forwarded the career center’s response to our bold, modern, unique, branding, sales and marketing document:
Your resume is very colorful and creative, however, it looks more like a print ad or bulletin board… Take out the top section and replace it with your objective statement (one line.. To obtain a position as a _______ teacher…) The things you have in this section are more for your cover letter or the interview conversation, not your resume. In addition, remove the quote from the faculty member…All reference information goes on a separate sheet (3-5 list) or in a reference letter, not on your resume itself. Be consistant with the bullets or crayons…I prefer the bullets…it’s looks more mature and professional. You are also missing a Professional Development section (workshops, presentations and conferences attended with dates…see sample)). If you agree with the suggestions and make changes, don’t forget to upload it to … [campus career website - name withheld].
Fortunately, we were both braced for a negative response. My email back to my client was short and to the point:
They are teaching 1990 job search tactics and trying to pigeon hold you to look like everyone else. Quite frankly, I would not only ignore completely, I would run screaming from this type of guidance. It is as old as dinosaurs and ineffective in a 2012 job search.
In a 2012 job search: Target. Focus. DIFFERENTIATION is key. Cookie-cutter doesn’t cut it.
Next post, I’ll dissect the response line by line, outlining why this guidance is not only wrong and ineffective in today’s search, but also a little scary. Stay tuned.