See Dick's generic resume. See Dick fail.
Let me tell you a "sorta-real" story
about an imaginary couple I'll call Dick and Jane (I'm renowned for my creativity).
The tension had been mounting for months.
It all started innocently enough. Dick met Jane at a local coffee shop on his way to work. The chemistry was instantaneous. They agreed to meet again for coffee that night, just to get to know each other better.
Dick and Jane quickly found they had much in common. Despite their busy schedules and hectic careers, they began to look forward to their times together. They began to miss each other when they weren't around.
Friendship developed into romance, and eventually Dick and Jane began to suspect they might be in love. They spent every possible minute together. They began to talk of being together forever.
At last, Dick decided to take the plunge. He found the perfect ring and arranged a special date.
Finally, the big day arrived. Dick took Jane to a beautiful restaurant. Bathed in flickering candlelight, he stared deeply into her eyes. He couldn't have felt more in love.
Somehow he screwed up the courage to tell her what was on his heart. "Jane," he said, "there's something I need to ask you."
Jane's heart beat a little faster. With an expectant smile, she said, "Yes?"
Dick fumbled for words. "Well, um, you see . . . it's like this. I think I want to, ah, initiate a lifelong legal contract with a member of the opposite sex, you know what I mean? She could be either tall or short . . . blonde or brunette . . . I really don't have a preference as to race, religion, or political persuasion. I don't mind if she smokes or not. And -- and --"
Desperation filled his eyes. "Basically, I'll take whatever I can get. So, what do you think?" he finished lamely.
She stared back at him, speechless. Then, with a sob, she leaped to her feet and ran out of the restaurant, tears streaming down her face.
Dumbfounded, Dick watched her retreat, wondering how it could possibly have gone so wrong.
Inconceivable, right? No one would ever approach a situation like that.
Yet that is essentially the strategy many people use when searching for a job. They write a blanket "generic" resume and cover letter, making them broad and vague in the hope that the verbiage apply to any job they apply for. If it wouldn't work on a girlfriend, though, why should it work on a potential employer?
It rarely does.
When a company is considering whether to hire you, the ultimate concern is "What can you do for me today?
" They don't care that you need a job. They don't even care that you're competent and knowledgeable. The world is overflowing with competent, knowledgeable people who are essentially useless employees. The sole purpose of a business is to make money. If you can't help the company make more money, you're nothing more than dead weight. A company is a team; everyone has to contribute for the team to succeed.
Knowledge and skills are important, but those can be taught. What's more important is the desire and ability to learn (it's amazing how rare the desire to learn is nowadays). What a company wants most of all is an employee with a shared vision and a passion for the field. An employee who truly wants to be a member of the team--their
team--will outperform any employee who just wants a job. If you truly believe in where the company is going and what it's trying to accomplish, you'll not only do competent work to standard, you'll exceed the standards. You'll search for ways to make the company more innovative and productive. In short, you'll help the company make more money.
So how do you set yourself apart from the mass of potential candidates who just need a job? How do you show your prospective employer that their vision is your vision, that you're passionate about what they're doing . . . that, in short, you wouldn't want to work anywhere else?
That is the subject of my upcoming three-part series. Tomorrow I'll discuss how to research the company you want to work for.