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How a Patchwork Quilt Résumé Could Damage Your Brand

Wikipedia’s Definition of a patchwork quilt: a quilt in which the top layer consists of pieces of fabric sewn together to form a design.

By my own definition, a patchwork quilt résumé is one that is made up of phrases and sentences copied from other people’s career documents (résumé, cover letter, bio, or LinkedIn Profile), and presented as one’s own.

Recently, there was an intense discussion on the forum of one of my professional associations about someone who had copied blocks of a sample résumé to create her own then contacted one member to spruce it up for her. While scrutinizing the document, the member realized the contents didn’t gel, so she did a Google search. It turned out the sample résumé was crafted by another member of this same association and posted in an article on AOL.

I have had my share of people sending me résumés made up of bits and pieces of other people’s résumés, and sometimes cover letters. In one case, it was the summary from one of my own creations. As I started reading the résumé, I thought the wording sounded familiar. On checking, I realized it was one I had written for another client. This new client told me someone had helped him out for free but he wasn’t having much success with it.

When information is copied from someone else’s résumé, it is very easy to spot the patchwork quilt design. The information is incoherent; statements are generic and some phrases just do not match the person’s experience or background. Actions like these only serve to damage one’s brand, and elicit accusations of plagiarism, copyright infringements, and ethics. Moreover, if such a résumé lands on the desk of a discerning hiring manager, such a candidate’s credibility will come into question, and he or she will most likely not be called for an interview.

Here are the facts:

  • Your résumé is a branding tool that tells YOUR story, not someone else’s, and shows the face YOU want employers to see.
  • You are unique! There is no one else like you, with the same experience, accomplishments and work ethic. Your co-worker may have the same job description and may do the same work like you, but he or she is not your clone. You must differentiate yourself.
  • Your aim is to create a résumé that captures your unique talents, accomplishments and experience; not one that looks like a patchwork quilt, or one that gives the impression you have a Jekyll and Hyde personality.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Instead of scouring the Internet for sample résumés to build your own, take a look at your job description and ask yourself “What have I done with the job they asked me to do? How is the company better off since I joined?”
  • Read each job description statement and apply the ‘so what’ factor to each. For example, if one of your responsibilities is to “monitor and analyze sales promotion results...” Ask yourself, “So what? What did I do? What happened?”
  • Review your last two performance appraisals and look for the nuggets of your contributions from projects you worked on, objectives met and targets exceeded.
  • Start building a résumé that tells YOUR story. Make sure each statement addresses your value proposition, and answers the employer’s question “Why should we hire you?” If you are unable to create your own résumé, find someone whom you trust; has credentials and know what they are doing.

Don’t damage your brand with a patchwork quilt résumé. Learn to tell your own story and get hired!

Own Your Name. Build Your Personal Brand. Up Your Job Search Game

Do you own your name? “Of course, I do”, you say! Last week I hosted a free teleconference for job seekers and professionals to gauge their career plans for 2012, and see if I could help them achieve their goals. I offered some options on how they could up their job search game in the new year, and differentiate themselves from their competitors. A few days later, I had coffee with someone who had missed the call, but who wanted to bring me up-to-date on her next career move. She told me about her plans for the year and about her new website. While discussing the website, I suggested that she claimed her name on the web by registering it as a domain. Her eyes opened widely as in “What do you mean?”

These days whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, one of the first steps to building your personal brand is to claim your name – register your name as a website. I learned this early. You see, actor Jude Law’s former nanny has my name, and I wasn’t aware of it until I heard of the scandal surrounding their alleged affair. Soon after that, I claimed and registered www.daisywright.com and www.daisywright.ca, as domain names through Hostmonster (Affiliate Link). I have since given up the .CA domain.

Why is it important to own your name? The hiring process has changed for job seekers, and personal branding has become very important.  Recruiters and employers don’t rely solely on traditional methods to learn about or evaluate potential employees. They are swamped with résumés, phone calls and emails. It is, therefore, your responsibility to change the way you market your stories and your skills to employers, and raise your visibility because your résumé and cover letter are no longer enough. The same is true for entrepreneurs.

To begin your brand-building process, your first step is to register your name as a domain, if it’s still available.  Use it as a one-stop haven for your social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube (if you’re venturing into videos). When employers and recruiters begin searching for you, or when you need to connect with someone of influence, it’s easy to send them a link to your own website which houses your other profiles.

In a recent Fast Company article, the writer tells a story of how a 16-year old high school student emailed her out of the blue, and asked to join her as a guest on her TV show. He did not send a résumé, but instead included links to his website, Twitter account, Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. This is a 16-year old! He has already learned how to use the web to his advantage–building a strong and positive personal brand before he even reaches his adult years. Twelve months into his brand-building exercise, he is already a well-known regular tech TV expert and blogger–and he’s not even out of high school yet.

What about you? Are you ready to step forward and do something as daring as ‘Mr. 16-year old’? Do you own your name on the web? Are your profiles up-to-date and housed in one place? Have you scoured your Facebook profile to make sure that everything is professional? Do you have blog? If not, are you contributing your expertise to industry blogs? If a recruiter or employer begins searching for someone with your stories and skills, will you stand out from the herd, or will you stay hidden in the crowd?

CEOs, HR Executives and recruiters encourage job seekers to use social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs to improve their chances of getting a job. One CEO stated in a Boston Globe article that, “We often find hires because of their activity in social media and, especially, the blogosphere.”

A recruiter said, “We like to see candidates who have filled in their LinkedIn profile completely. Upload your resume, and if you are a blogger (and it is relevant to your career), post the link to your blog. With respect toTwitter, she said,”We use Twitter directory tools to find candidates whose bios match our hiring needs.”

The field is too competitive these days for you to continue doing what you have always done and expecting different results. You’ve got to be willing to go the extra mile in bringing visibility to your story. It’s time to up your game, begin building your personal brand and let the job vacancies find you.

Sources:

Five Steps to a Better Brand

Social Media Advice for Job Seekers

 

Is the Résumé Really Dead?

Every so often I read a blog post or hear comments about the death of the ubiquitous résumé, and I am sometimes tempted to believe it. After all, it draws its competition from the overabundance of social media tools and, to a lesser degree, from individuals with the ‘gift of gab’ who can talk themselves into any job without a résumé.

But, let’s pause for a moment! Probably, the résumé isn’t dead after all. A few days ago, one of my clients was interviewed for a Senior Vice President position by the top three honchos of a company. They were impressed with the content and structure of his résumé because after the interview, he sent me the following note:

The Top Guy stated he had never seen a better résumé and appreciated the time and effort I put into it.  I was straight up and told him I solicited assistance. I said, “No one stands alone but draws on other people’s expertise as required”. He loved that.

Naturally, I was happy for him that things went well, and by the looks of  it, he may be getting an offer soon, but I also reflected on the CEO’s comment. This couldn’t have happened if it was a collaborative effort between the client and me. Before crafting the résumé, I put him to work by having him complete an assessment to uncover his strengths and the work environment in which he strives best. It was a worthwhile exercise for him as he wrote to say, “I want to express how important this process has been for me to re-evaluate my worth and experience. I have a fire I have not had in a while!”

The next step was to delve into his background, unearth his success stories and formulate them into a cohesive value proposition that articulates what he is good at, what he consistently does well, and how he delivers tangible results. He was stunned when he received the draft document and remarked, “To say we are blown away (the wife and I) would be an understatement. This is GOLD!”

Before meeting with company officials, we also discussed interview strategies – what to say, when to say it, and what to hold back.  This brings me back to the question, “Is the résumé really dead as some would have us believe?” Not really! Hiring managers and recruiters usually request one; job postings ask to submit one, and CEOs sometimes want to see one before agreeing to meet a candidate. What is on its way out is the résumé as it used to be. The one devoid of value-based scripts, filled with ‘responsible for…’ statements and does not address the employer’s needs or buying motivators. Such a résumé cannot stand up to the competition and will certainly meet its demise if it hasn’t already. On the other hand, the one that tells stories, focuses on major strengths, and promises value, that’s the résumé that will lead to interviews and then to a job offer.

What are your thoughts? Have your say below.

 

But, let’s pause for a minute! Probably, the résumé isn’t dead after all. One of my clients met the top three honchos of this particular company when he interviewed for a Senior VP position a few days ago. After that meeting, he sent me an email from which I quote:  

The Top Guy stated he had never seen a better resume and appreciated the time and effort I put into it.  I was straight up and told him I solicited assistance.  “No one stands alone but draws on other people’s expertise as required”, I told him. He loved that.

In order to come up with the client’s résumé, I had him complete an assessment. After he had reviewed the results, he said, I want to express how important this process has been for me to re-evaluate my worth and experience. I have a fire I have not had in a while!”

The next step was to delve into his background, unearth his success stories and formulate them into a cohesive value proposition that articulates what he is good at, what he consistently does well, and how he delivers tangible results. All this was necessary to craft the résumé that caught the attention of the CEO. Even the client was stunned when he received the résumé. He said, To say we are blown away (the wife and I) would be an understatement. This is GOLD!”

So, which résumé is dead? The one devoid of value-based scripts, filled with ‘responsible for…’ statements and does not address the employer’s needs. Such a résumé cannot stand up to the competition, and will certainly meet its demise if it hasn’t already. However, the résumé that tells stories; focuses on major strengths and promises value, that’s the résumé that will lead to success.

What are your thoughts? Have your say below.