Respect the urge and resist the cheesecake


Every now and then I see a bumper sticker that makes me giggle. One of the silly trends I remember from my youth was when people would remove a couple letters from their In-N-Out Burger bumper sticker so it read in-n-out urge. It was harmless humor, possibly referring to craving a chocolate shake in a palm tree decorated cup or perhaps an innuendo with a more risqué interpretation.

Either way, I’ve always admired the simplicity of In-N-Out Burger’s business model. Their reputation is built on cleanliness, quality and value. One of the reasons they’ve successfully grown and retained their favored position amidst a very competitive fast food industry is their streamlined menu and consistent focus on doing what they do best.

Instead of inventing and offering new items that confuse customers and complicate their service structure, they keep it easy to understand and quick to process. Obviously, it makes perfect sense for this concept to be reinforced in their jingle: “That’s what a hamburger is all about!”

Over the years as I’ve coached job seekers from various backgrounds, I’ve come across professionals who resemble the specialized In-N-Out way and others who follow a more diverse smorgasbord approach to describing what they do. When translating that idea to building a resume, I recommend and prefer being very targeted even if that means creating multiple versions.

Most people don’t like to hear that type of suggestion and many stubbornly resist that advice. They think it is best to keep their options open by covering the gamut of work experience, even the parts that have nothing in common with their future career goals. Imagine your auto mechanic doing dental work or a web designer being an airline pilot and a hairdresser. Even if someone happens to be simultaneously qualified for multiple professions, most of us can’t comprehend a logical way that those things might fit together in our workplaces.

Unfortunately, people who try to include everything they’ve ever done or every skill, duty and responsibility they’ve mastered tend to appear scattered. As the recipient of (probably thousands of) resumes, I can confirm that these are the first to be added to thanks, but no thanks pile. Of course being unfocused isn’t as embarrassing or detrimental as having a resumes full of typographical errors, grammatical issues, punctuation problems, improper word usage or freaky formatting, but it doesn’t exactly equal a stellar first impression.

When you see someone dining at The Cheesecake Factory for the first time, you notice how overwhelmed they get and how long it takes them to place an order because they have to review so many pages of information in the spiral bound menu book. Even though all of the entrees are beautifully pictured and described, they are also drastically different types of cuisine that aren’t usually blended in one place.

That is what a generic “I’ve got a little of everything and I can do it all” resume looks like. Each individual item might be delightful in the right context, but displaying the entire collection all at once is burdensome to the reader.

Contrast the distraction-filled half inch thick Cheesecake Factory novella to the jumbo menu board at In-N-Out where main choices are clearly illustrated and highlighted so you know exactly what’s available in one glance. It makes decision making much more efficient when everything fits in a sequential and orderly manner.

The trouble with too much information is that if I’m hungry for a tasty #2 cheeseburger with grilled onions, no tomato, fries and large diet coke, I don’t expect to see shrimp scampi, teriyaki pizza, jambalaya, eggplant pasta, pulled-pork ciabatta, barbequed chicken chopped salad, lemon chiffon cheesecake and cinnamon iced latte. That stuff all sounds delicious, but I bet plenty of people still select one of the burgers if that is what they are in the mood for…

While composing their customized messages, job seekers should consider their audience and just point out the critical pieces and ingredients related to their target position. That way their unmistakable theme song can say: That’s what (my specialized expertise) is all about!

Article by Kelly Blokdijk ~ As a Talent Optimization Coach & Consultant with TalentTalks, Kelly thrives on “Creating a Voice for Talent” by partnering with business professionals and job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies, customized communication materials and compelling personal branding campaigns to create a lasting positive impression. TalentTalks consults with the business community on innovative, leading-edge human resource and organization development initiatives to enhance talent management, talent acquisition, corporate communications and employee engagement programs. TalentTalks routinely posts employment market and job search related content on Facebook and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!

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1 Comment »

  1. Cyrstal Heitz said

    I really love to munch cheesecakes because they are oh so tasty. i really like to eat like 2 or 4 per day. .;:`;

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