My friend grew up working in her family’s restaurant. She had done it all– hostessing, waiting on tables, cooking, busing tables, and balancing the till at the end of the night.
When she moved away from her home in South Africa to the United States, no one would hire her to work in their restaurants. She was a diligent person, by nature and tirelessly submitted her resume to every single restaurant in town. But each place seemed to relish rejecting her.
Anxious to begin working, she decided to try to do something new. She went to a stationery store and bought some stickers.
She took that stack of resumes that highlighted her years of restaurant work and stuck a dozen stickers on each one.
Little oranges and zucchinis adhered to the margins of her resumes.
A sticky cherry dotted the “i” in her name.
She went back to the same restaurants and resubmitted her embellished resumes to the same restaurant managers. This time, she got five job interviews and quickly secured a good job at a well-established eatery.
When I heard the story, I was shocked at the superficiality of the job market. How could someone care more about my friend’s taste in stickers than the fact that she is an incredibly competent worker?
But as I thought about it more, I had empathy for the managers reading stacks of pale, processed resumes. They may not see the hiring process as a unique challenge. They may see it as a chore. They may even miss the nice person that just quit.
What is the lesson to be learned here? It may not be to rush out and put some telephone stickers for your application to be a receptionist or put some toothbrush stickers on your resume to work as a dental hygienist.
However, you may wish to consider your resume with fresh eyes.
Don’t look at your trusty resume that you keep on your desktop.
- Include an experience from 1982 that was really interesting.
- Mention the fact that you were called the Computer Whiz-kid at your old job.
- State that you have four children.
- Don’t regurgitate that boring section that you don’t even want to read.
- Emphasize the volunteer work you’ve been doing on Tuesday mornings.
The key here is to experiment.
That said, after my friend told me this story, I did not interpret the sticker story too abstractly.
I promptly marched over to the pet supply store that said it was hiring and asked for an application.
When I was done filling out the job qualifications, I drew a picture of a big heart with my cat inside it.
I got a call that night offering me the job.