Applying dating advice to your resume
Kayla Krupnick, Assistant Director of Career Planning at Golden Gate University, explains how creating a targeted resume for each position serves to impress a prospective employer just like you would try to impress a prospective date – by focusing on how your interests and experiences match up.
All those “rules” about resumes and interviews seem daunting? Don’t stress! You know the basic concepts already, because they’re not too different from dating! If you’re interested in someone, you try to impress him/her, and the way you often do that is by finding things you have in common and calling attention to them.
“Do I really do need to target my resume and cover letter every time?” You may ask yourself this question because it takes some effort to go through the trouble of reading through a job description, interpreting what an employer is really asking for, and then demonstrating your interest and skill in these areas. “Do employers really care?” you ask yourself. “Doesn’t it seem ‘fake’ if I try to pitch my experiences to an employer that way?”
Well, think about it this way: What if you just met someone you found incredibly interesting and attractive? Let’s call him/her ‘Person A.’ Naturally, you would like to get to know that person better. Imagine you are standing in a group of people and your new crush mentions that the band in the whole world is Flock of Seagulls. What do you do? Walk away because you have no idea who Flock of Seagulls are? Nod your head and look down hoping everyone else in the group is as ignorant as you are? Mention your own love of sea birds?
Probably not! Likely you will search the recesses of your brain for any knowledge you might have about this ’80s band and share it with the group so you can stand out and impress Person A. You could ask a question or mention a similar band that you know of. You will probably try your hardest to show a similar interest in or at least some knowledge of this topic. And what would happen if you didn’t try to demonstrate an interest? Yep, you’d just be one of the crowd, and Person A would pay you no attention.
Let’s take it a step further and imagine that the situation is a little different. Person A mentions your favorite band. You won’t just say, “Yeah, that’s my favorite band too.” In this situation most people mention their favorite song, a concert they attended where that band performed, or even their thoughts on the band’s upcoming album.
Now go back to the idea of creating a targeted resume. It’s not about wasting time or being fake. It’s about finding a common connection and being able to demonstrate it. Employers, like dates, will not know about these similar interests and experiences unless you tell them! Employers are not mind readers, and you will have to demonstrate your passion or strengths in your resume and cover letter for employers to know they exist. And employers are people too. The person reading your resume and cover letter likes to feel important and, similar to with a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, you need to show that you’ve been listening. In addition, you have to prove your resume is not just a “line” – the same marketing ploy you use with everyone. It should be carefully constructed for each specific employment situation just like you would for each prospective new date.
The dating analogy is easy to carry through the rest of the hiring process:
- The first interview is like the first date – Each person is testing the other to see if it is a good match. On the first date, it is too soon to talk about commitment (salaries, benefits or vacation time).
- Going to an interview without doing research is like going on a blind date – You know nothing about the person across from you and it can make the whole interview extremely uncomfortable because the topics of conversation do not match.
- A panel interview is a date with Person A and a couple of his/her friends – You want to make sure you are not ignoring any of the friends since you do not know who the real decision maker is.
- The second interview is like meeting the parents – A general impression has already been made and you need to solidify this impression and get approval.
- The job offer is an offer of commitment – You need to have thought through whether this is really a good fit for you. Are you sure you don’t want to see other people?