Does your song make people turn up the volume or change the station?

Music has a way of influencing our mood and producing a reaction whether stimulating, soothing or simply sounds to suit the situation. While driving around if a song I like comes on the radio I tend to turn up the volume and may even start grooving to the beat. When a song is played that is not to my liking, I can’t wait to change the station.

There are some parallels between how we interpret music to how we process spoken and written words and other types of sensory stimuli as well. While all of us are multi dimensional with broad interests and talents, there are usually areas where our levels of attraction are higher or our performance is stronger.

Some individuals are brilliant with numbers and hard data. Others are outstanding at producing images and creative or artistic expressions through assorted mediums. Certain people are physically gifted with extraordinary athletic agility. Then there are those who might be considered a language lover or a word nerd.

In many cases those traits, characteristics and passions contribute to career selections, hobbies and interpersonal relations with others. Leveraging natural abilities and playing up strengths is much more comfortable than trying to force or shape ourselves into something that doesn’t make sense.

job hunting

job hunting (Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan)

For example, most things requiring physical coordination or athleticism cause me to struggle. Likewise, my mind seems to wander or stall when I encounter a situation where anything beyond basic mathematical proficiency is necessary.

During my younger years I enjoyed art and design and I still have an extreme appreciation for aesthetically pleasing environments and objects. Abstract concepts and unconventional ideas are also fascinating to me and I often find ways to organize divergent themes into purposeful patterns.

Attention to detail in various forms of communication has been part of the work that I’ve done throughout my career.  Whether writing content, presenting information or crafting a message on behalf of others, I take steps to absorb and acquire available and relevant inputs and then translate that to a logical output fit for the circumstances and audience. Even though the above sounds straight forward and I’ve gained substantial practice doing those activities, it still takes significant concentration and creativity to place the right parts into position.

That’s why I’m constantly baffled that people with far less experience producing targeted communications fail to comprehend those complexities and ultimately fail to execute effectively. Case in point, I’ve viewed countless resumes and online profiles and other career marketing collateral that quite frankly should have never been published.

The other day a job seeker handed me a full-color, heavy card stock, tri-fold pamphlet promoting their qualifications. Sounds impressive, right? Well it might have been had the entire piece not been visually cluttered, inconsistent and overloaded with redundant and extraneous detail.

The bigger problem with the document was the incoherent content including rambling sentences full of random capitalizations and other jarring formatting. There were also some peculiar word choices as if a thesaurus vomited all over the page without any regard for contextual relevance. For sure that person will be remembered, but I doubt that was the reaction they envisioned.

Another job seeker recently sent me two versions of their resume and two cover letters for alternate career paths. They claimed they had previously sought out professional help with those items, yet were not getting any response. Immediately, I could tell why.

Despite the fact that this person was highly educated with multiple advanced degrees and solid academic and professional credentials and experience, their materials were not at all a cohesive representation of their career stature. I certainly hope they haven’t already damaged their reputation by circulating those to their target employers.

One of their cover letters read like it was written by a high school dropout. It was entirely void of any sophistication that would be expected by a professional seeking a prominent, high-ranking position. Both resumes were far too busy and lengthy to keep my attention beyond a two second skim. I feel terrible knowing that person actually paid an alleged professional for that work product. All of it was a wasted effort and likely to cause them more harm than good.

As an active networker, I am constantly adding new contacts to my LinkedIn account. Naturally when I meet someone new or receive an invitation to connect, I review their profile. It continues to astound me how frequently I find blatant and glaring errors of all kinds on these profiles.

One marketing and advertising industry professional had two misspelled words in the first two lines of their profile. How confident is that supposed to make any prospective employers or clients feel about their abilities?

With as much awareness of how competitive the job market is, it is unacceptable for these scenarios to be so prevalent. Rather than making recipients say this is music to my ears and I feel like dancing, these materials end up resembling an annoying over played song that you can’t get out of your head.

Generally, I try to steer clear of dispensing job search advice on topics that seem obvious or those that should be common sense to everyone. However, I keep finding even the most basic premise “you only have one chance to make a first impression” is being missed in such a dramatic fashion.

When pursuing a new employment opportunity, there is no excuse for typos, misspellings, grammatical gaffes, punctuation problems, funky fonts, formatting and capitalization online or offline. Limited and repetitive vocabulary, incorrect word usage, improper verb tense or any other related flaws should never be displayed on anyone’s career marketing messages. All of these issues are correctable or preventable through proofreading.

People constantly ask me how they can be found, how they can stand out and how they can drive action in the midst of immense competition. There are plenty of techniques that can improve the chances of those things happening, but none of that matters if when found you stand out for the wrong reasons making people think you need to change your tune.

Did you spot the typos or mistakes in this article?  Please comment! 

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, LinkedIn, GooglePlus and Twitter – fans and followers welcome!


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