Monthly Archives: January 2010

Your resume’s fugly missing tooth

I think your resume has a giant hole if there’s nothing “on the side.”

By on the side, I mean something related to the career field you did (created, hosted, learned, sponsored, managed) just because you wanted to — even though it wasn’t required. Something that shows you really love what you’re asking to get paid to do.

This is especially true for the creatives out there. There are lots of adequate writers, designers, and thinkers that need a job. But what smart employers are looking for is evidence of passion.

You can pick up additional management, organizational, and technical skills along the way. Anyone worth working for will take the time to teach you as you grow and learn to master your craft.

But nobody can teach you to love it. That’s what you’ve got to bring to the table. The trick is proving this in the application and interview process.

That’s where the on the side stuff comes in. It’s the volunteer design work you do for a favorite nonprofit. It’s the free editing you do for your local church’s newsletter. It’s the that e-book you published.

Do something great that’s somewhat related to the career path you’re pursuing. And do it because you love it. Be proud of it.

The neat side effect of this is that it’s a good personal test. If you wouldn’t do it for fun, why would you want to do it every day?

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Your job is to break the schema

Do you have a favorite movie involving an unexpected plot twist? Maybe it’s just a scene. Something that made you explode with laughter, made you jump, thrilled you — made you think, I never saw that coming.

It broke your schema.

A schema, in psychological terms, is a structured cluster of pre-conceived ideas. From the depths of Wikipedia:

Schemata are an effective tool for understanding the world. Through the use of schemata, most everyday situations do not require effortful processing — automatic processing is all that is required. People can quickly organize new perceptions into schemata and act effectively without effort. For example, most people have a stairway schema and can apply it to climb staircases they’ve never seen before.

Great storytellers are fantastic at breaking your schemata. They lure you in, making you feel nice and comfortable. You’ve seen this before.

…and then something amazing happens. A twist. A surprise. A shock.

I hope your marketing, your resume, and your next book has a few of these sprinkled in. Otherwise, spend your time doing something else. Because, quite literally, we’ve already seen it before.

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