Caught this gem of a post from Business Insider today on candidates going, er, “above and beyond” to stand out from the crowd.
My personal favorites were the resumé decorated with pink rabbits and gator hunting as part of the skill set.
I have some experience here.
As a much younger lad, I did everything that I could to stand out, but as I recall, not much of it was over-the-top or especially memorable. In 1992, I was relentless in getting stuff over the Wieden+Kennedy. If memory serves, it was more about the sheer volume and persistence which led to an interview and what can only be called a massive flop.
Lessons learned in the “interview,” but the product of getting there seemed to work.
Getting the first crack at the interview or meeting is the trick. In my experience, there are equal parts luck, effort, chutzpah and preparation.
Let’s start the list backwards with preparation.
You don’t need to know every deep detail about everything. In fact, if you know too much about the person who you’re meeting with, you might be perceived as just a little creepy. Yes, LinkedIn is a magical tool, where you can learn just about anything about a person’s career — but you can’t make assumptions just from what’s on the page. You’re not their buddy. You’re another person rolling through the door who wants a gig, which most people understand. You’re not meeting with them to just shoot the breeze, you’re there for a reason.
A good way to avoid the “I’m going to cover everything on your LinkedIn profile” minefield is to frame it so that they give you the story. The best gigs I got were when I talked maybe 10% of the time. Which, for those who know me, isn’t exactly easy. Resist the temptation to just jump in. Let ‘em roll.
Chutzpah, the more contemporary version, is steeped in the idea of confidence. Beware the temptation to veer into cockiness. Yes, you may have a great pedigree, but this isn’t the time or the place to blurt out your achievements en masse. Show your confidence but don’t overdo it. I’m only telling you this because I was incredibly deficient here and made myself look like a complete ass sometimes.
Effort is the thing that may carry you through and save the day. You have to stay on it. No gaps. Don’t figure that you’ll “take a day or seven” to get things put together. This is your career we’re talking about and, once you’re in it, you’ll see how challenging it can be. Preparation is a component of effort, but this is more about keeping the momentum going, even when you’re enduring a relentless stream of rejection.
Luck? Well, that’s just luck. You may very well be the right person, for the right job, at the right time. You may run into someone at an ad club function that could be your next boss. It could be you and friends hanging out at happy hour and striking up a conversation with that interesting man or woman who just finished a meeting with a colleague.
You’ll never know where luck will come from. But when you sense that you’ve got a little luck in your pocket, hold on to it. And look at the first three things on this list to make sure they’re in order because that could ultimately take you over the top.
And stay away from putting unicorn stickers on your resume. That’s just weird.