The following story appears in the Winter/Spring Trident. Now, you can view the full issue online!
By Carrie Caton, Southern Methodist
During recruitment in the late ‘80s, Theta Kappas at Southern Methodist University spent Tuesday evenings each fall memorizing “pic cards” created by the reference chair. Using an actual projector (as I said, this was late ‘80s), an image of the prospective member flashed on the wall, accompanied by her high school, hometown and three facts to provide context and conversation starters. “She plays the trombone, was homecoming queen and speaks three languages!” In hindsight, this offered a terribly myopic view of someone’s potential as a “sister in the bonds.” (I can say this, because I WAS the reference chair who made the pic cards and ran the projector.) Women offer the world more than three things; we are more than a list of accomplishments. Does your resume reflect that?
Every resume lists professional credentials, but you are much more than that; you also bring to work environments your personality, character and life experiences. For example, I am the director of communications for a nonprofit organization. Anyone with whom I’m compared professionally is also adept at writing, editing, social media and public relations strategy. However, my competition might not be the breast cancer surviving, older-than-average graduate student and single mom that I am. Positioning oneself as a multifaceted brand, rather than simply a businessperson, can distinguish your resume from a stack of 8 1/2 x 11, black and white, blah, blah, blah.
For example: Are you a runner? List how many miles you ran last year. (“Wow, this candidate is disciplined.”)
Do you enjoy reading? Include your favorite authors. (“She’s well read, informed and aware.”)
Does the Enneagram personality system help you navigate life? Provide your number. (“She’d be a great fit with this team of 8’s.”)
Do you help your Tri Delta alumnae chapter support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or your local children’s hospital? Categorize the ways in which you participate. (“She can raise money for a charity AND organize a fun run?”)
Are there readily-identifiable individuals who inspire you? Create a section with the heading “Role Models.” (“She resonates with Brene Brown? I LOVE her!”)
This type of information introduces “the whole you” to the HR executive (who is, let’s face it, the grown-up version of the recruitment chair) in a way that one-dimensional information cannot.
Another tip: Consider having as many versions of your resume as you do lipsticks. One color rarely matches everything in your closet; similarly, one resume won’t work for every job you go after.
Back when I ran the projector in the chapter room, Billy Crystal did a hilarious impersonation of Fernando Lamas on “Saturday Night Live,” with the trademark line: “It’s not how you feel, but how you look, and you look mahvelous.” Certainly content on your resume matters (as it did on pic cards), but I believe the creativity and categories of the content can set you apart. You are more than a list and your resume should be, too.
Carrie works with Houston-based Fund for Teachers and is a hired hand for personal branding. Pursuing a graduate degree has taken her to the Holy Land and countless chapels across Italy, but walking the Camino de Santiago remains on the top of her bucket list. She’s a proud breast cancer survivor and chronicled her treatment at theartofcancerblog.com. She’s also a survivor of two teenagers, and she’s proud of them, too.