by Jim Obermeyer
How to write “I changed a light bulb” on your resume:
“Single-handedly managed the successful upgrade and deployment of a new environmental illumination system with zero cost overruns and no safety incidents.”
I think we’ve all probably done this kind of creative writing at one point in our careers. And probably a lot more of us have been doing it in the last several months. But let’s face it: What is the purpose of a resume? To get you face-to-face with someone that can hire you. Does anybody really hire someone without having actually met them first?
So the resume is one way of getting their attention and getting the interview. A little exaggeration on a resume is probably not unheard of. But sometimes, I suspect it gets taken a little too far. These are all from actual resumes:
Objective: To claw my way to the top using any means necessary…but then be a fair and just ruler and bring your company to new heights, or whatever.
Skills: It’s best for employers that I not work with people.
Relevant Experience: None really, but please allow me to articulate the many reasons why I think my minimum-wage work history is extremely relevant and has adequately prepared me.
References: Unavailable because they were all burned up in a fire.
Weaknesses: My looks can be a distraction in the workplace to members of the opposite sex (and in some cases the same sex). I have been told I am an overly generous lover.
Okay, then…a little more than we really needed to know.
The reality of what we are living through right now is that a lot of us have taken out that resume that may not have been looked at or updated for years, maybe even decades. We’re now challenged with making it relevant to the current culture and the current state of our industry and its workforce.
Put another way, we’re now challenged with creating a brand for ourselves. Marketing ourselves, promoting ourselves. Dare I say, selling ourselves. But this isn’t intended to be a lesson on how to write a resume. This is more about recognizing your personal brand. Or perhaps to use an older term…your reputation.
If you have been in the workforce and been in this industry for any length of time, you have a personal brand. That brand is based on a wide variety of factors, not the least of which is the impressions you have made on your coworkers, clients, suppliers and partners. That brand is evident when your name is brought up in conversations: “He’s a solid guy, works very hard.” “She’ll go to great lengths to take care of her clients.” “When he walks into the room, run the other way…”
Regardless of what your resume may say about your employment history and your industry experience, your brand reputation—the way you are known in the industry and community—will have a big impact on your ability to influence employers. The hiring process is not just about work history and experience. A big component in the hiring process has to do with cultural fit…will you work well with current employees and clients and are your priorities aligned with those of the company? In many cases, cultural fit outweighs work experience in the decision to hire. So what to do?
Start by trying to determine what your reputation is out there. Ask close friends and associates in the industry what they have heard about you—what is your brand? Focus on your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Perhaps more importantly, do a self-evaluation: what is important to me in a potential employer? It’s not just the job description, but the cultural fit—a place where I align with their values and where my strengths will be put to good use. A place I want to work.
Sure, we may be unemployed for the first time in decades, and it may have come as a total surprise due to current circumstances, but that is no reason to settle for something less than desirable. Why not take this opportunity to find our next great adventure?
Good luck to everyone working on this.
See you on the show floor.
Jim Obermeyer has been in the tradeshow industry 38 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house owner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This story originally appeared in the Sept./Oct. issue of Exhibit City News, p. 12. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_sept-oct_2020