It is becoming increasingly important to find ways to differentiate yourself in the job market – ways to get the attention of readers and to stand out among a sea of highly qualified candidates. That means finding ways to be appropriately and productively disruptive. There are very safe ways of doing this; creating a truly accomplishment focused resume is pretty disruptive (since so many are anything but). And there are more risky ways of achieving this. I recently received an email from someone asking whether it would be appropriate to send a potential employer a skateboard with an infographic decal along with his resume (yes, really!).
The employer was a very progressive design company. They had requested applicants “provide something extra.” But a skateboard with an infographic decal? Believe it or not, I liked the idea. It certainly will be hard to ignore! Because – and only because – the employer opened up the door for something like this and the approach was not out of line with the company’s culture, I said go for it. What would be a terrible idea in most situations made good sense here.
When considering ways to be appropriately and productively disruptive, there are some things to keep in mind:
- In the example I shared, the skateboard is an attention getter. Regardless, the focus needs to be on what you offer and how you plan to impact the company. If you aren't directing people to what really matters (your accomplishment-focused resume), the skateboard is just a gimmick.
- Whatever you produce – be it a mock advertisement, proposal or infographic – needs to be top-notch. You are going to get people's attention, but you are also opening yourself up to added criticism. That's not a bad thing. Just make sure what you send / leave behind is the best you can possibly deliver.
When considering ways to stand out, it is most important that you consider your audience. What works for a creative design firm could be absolutely disastrous in another setting. Know your audience, do the best you can and make sure – above all else – that the resume you provide is outstanding.