A Creative Visual Resume

In response to this recent blog post, a friend forwarded me a copy of a resume he recently worked up (and, yes, it helped him get a new position!) – I thought it was quite creative and visually appealing, so I’m sharing it with you.

Identifying information about specific companies has been greyed out, but underneath the grey boxes are corporate logos. It was a nice touch.

My friend used wordle.net to generate the word cloud, and Google docs to create graphs and charts. Nice and simple.

Click to biggify—->

(Page 1 of the resume has a nice pic of the candidate with contact info and the word cloud; page 2 has the other info. I’ve joined the elements into one graphic).

So, what do you think of this approach? Would you use it, as a job candidate? Would it get your attention, as a hiring manager? Also – if you’ve seen other examples on-line of creative resumes, please add links to them in the comments!

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Is your professional direction and message CLEAR? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Discovering Your Professional DNA

>> Don’t Do These Three Things on LinkedIn

Does Your Resume Have A Missing Narrative?

I’m reviewing a resume for a friend, and it’s got a lot of great stuff. Solid and multi-faceted experience, a diversity of roles, evidence of solid talent.

But it’s missing something – something crucial that most resumes and LinkedIn profiles seem to lack.

An overall narrative.

A conversation this week with a solo consultant also brought this issue to the surface. He’s been doing a lot of different projects since being out on his own, but there’s really no storyline to tie it together. Current work, past roles, future direction – they don’t paint a clear picture.

We humans are hard-wired for stories. We want things to fit into an overall progression, showing steps toward a destination and the evolution of the main character. Other people relate to us through our narratives.

Our careers – our lives – have a narrative. Our challenge is to tie it all together and trace the story.

For most of us, the story is not all fairy-tale and unicorns. That’s OK. No-one can relate to that kind of faux narrative anyway. But your many experiences as a professional always have an interesting story to tell (hint: the plot is always progress, through finding your core strengths and progressively succeeding).

Resumes with lists and bullet points are forgettable commodities. Your story, however, is unique. And no-one can tell it better than you!

My Career Fragmentation Story

In a prior post (De-Fragmenting Your Business), I introduced the imagery of fragmentation to describe how, over time, our professional identities can become cloudy and unclear. Ever feel like your career has been full of bits and pieces that don’t entirely make sense together? Yeah – that!

Have I been through this? Indeed! So…let’s use my pinball-like career history as a brief case study to illustrate the process of both fragmentation and (eventual) illumination…

First, I should say that I have held many jobs that had little to do with pursuit of a career direction – like many younger folks, I exchanged time and effort for a paycheck doing things like delivering newspapers, working a McDonald’s grill, cleaning bathrooms, bagging groceries, construction, and waiting on tables. I even worked in a plastics factory one summer. Now THAT was unfulfilling (and malodorous)!

Actually, the second summer I worked at a McDonald’s, so did the woman who would become my wife. So don’t despise any work, OK? :>}

My first real career job was in sales – specifically, high-tech radiation medicine equipment. I took that job for one simple reason – money. Turns out I was smart enough to learn the field and the equipment, and persistent enough to make sales. That job also began to bring out something that was nascent in my makeup – a talent for marketing and messaging. But I was an introvert, I was not highly confident, I was task-oriented more than people-oriented – really, I wasn’t much of a salesperson. I was not driven by numbers, had little of that killer instinct, and I had to learn how to become outgoing. I did earn trust, however, which can partially make up for a multitude of weaknesses. Eventually I started managing a small field force, but that also was not a strong suit. The whole sales/management role thing was like walking in a pair of shoes that never really fit. Been there?

Around the end of my 10 years there, the world wide web showed up. I was hooked. Without any guidance or mandate, I learned basic HTML and created the company’s first website. Instantaneous, global, visual communication? I was all-in! And I wanted to get deeper into that world for my next career step.

So, I learned that I could handle technical stuff, I enjoyed marketing, and I saw the potential for digital communications. Also, years before, I had gotten an initial taste of what personal strength/makeup assessment was all about. That continued to fascinate my analytical makeup.

The next position, with a software company servicing the pharmaceutical industry, allowed me to continue to get my geek on, and to grow more in the marketing arena. But my primary responsibility was still sales, and I did my best to create new business. However, partway into my 10-year tenure there, we hired a REAL salesperson, and as I watched her in action, I finally realized something – I’m not wired as a classic sales person at all. Hello, mis-matched role! Actually, turns out that I’m a problem-solver. I’m consultative. I like designing new solutions. And, in this job, I got to also taste software design, project management, corporate leadership, strategic alliance development, enterprise IT collaboration – all of which helped me to clarify what was, and wasn’t, in my DNA.

Social media began to dawn during the latter half of my time there, and once again, I saw the future. In some way not yet definable, I knew that a large shift was underway, and I needed to be part of it. And I was beginning to understand more of what my sweet spot truly was. I compulsively saw holes in the marketplace, and couldn’t stop thinking of creative new ways to solve business challenges.

I was a consultant-communicator-builder – who loved digital.

What was happening during these years was both a fragmentation (trying to perform in a variety of differing roles and titles) and a refinement (this I can do; that I cannot do; this I can do really well). My conclusion since then is that many of us can do 8-10 things adequately, but there are typically 1-2 (maybe 3) things that we truly love, and do exceptionally well. It took a long time to figure that out – in all the fragments of ore, our main job is to find our unique nuggets of gold and run with them.

It was my intention 6 years ago to build a company around my specific strengths and long-term vision, and to put aside the fragments that weren’t core. So, my current solopreneur job is designed around me. I consult, I build opportunity networks, and I’m a vendor/client matchmaker. And, in the process of working with a variety of vendors, I discovered something else that had been slowly simmering over my entire career – I am an intuitive identity analyst who can help people and companies discover their DNA and brand themselves. Now my sweet spot has become clear: assess purpose; distill message; define opportunities; connect with targeted others. Or, to put it another way – helping individuals and businesses de-fragment and gain clarity about their sweet spot!

It took a looooong time for that train to arrive at the station.

Lots of trial-and-error over many years got me to those four verbs (assess, distill, define, connect). Various roles and titles  brought certain strengths to the surface, while also creating the discomfort of mis-matched capabilities. And many good friends along the way gave objective input to help gain a 20/20 view. I believe that some level of pinball-like experience is likely for most of us, but many individuals and businesses never seem to get to the point of sorting through the fragments and refining down to a clear roadmap. And addressing that problem is the passion that burns in my soul.

Why should any of us – individuals or businesses – settle for working at 30%, or 40%, or 50% of our true capacity? What is stopping us from finding our sweet spot and prospering there, instead of floundering elsewhere? I really don’t think it’s an exaggeration to view the fog of fragmentation as one of the biggest threats to productivity in our entire economy. Too many great people are adrift in mis-matched roles, and too many companies are doing the wrong kinds of work. Maybe we can get that right first, then worry about six sigma and team-building exercises later!

So, that’s my story of fragmentation and gradual illumination. There’s a massive relief when you can distill down to the key verbs that reflect your strength, and also plug in the right coordinates into your professional GPS.

Do your career shoes fit yet? Do yourself a favor – get there quicker than I did!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Is your professional direction and message CLEAR? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Discovering Your Professional DNA

>> De-Fragmenting Your Business

Want To Be Taken Seriously As A Consultant? Don’t Do This.

The last thing you want to do is blow up your own message – right?

It may sound old-school, but: yes, spelling matters.

For crying out loud, the squiggly line is telling you to spell-check. No only do you fail to do so, you actually use the screen shot highlighting your error??

This, in an article about how to be a high-priced consultant.

Here’s STEP 10 – Don’t shoot yourself in the foot if you’re trying to run a race.

(now, off to spell-check this blog post before pressing Publish….!)

De-Fragmenting Your Business

As I talk in-depth to small business people (including consultants), I am seeing a pattern over and over again. I think it may actually be endemic for most businesses. Fragmentation.

(apologies, in advance, for the Ugly Graphic!)

What do I mean? Well, over time, offerings become more diverse or less focused (sometimes in response to a rapidly-evolving marketplace), and messages get muddled. Soon, customers are really not sure what we do anymore – instead of being the default “go-to” for some very specific service or product, we’re…a supplier of something, broadly speaking.

In fact, this fragmentation subtly leads us into the habit of broadly speaking, instead of having a precise message. And, like a hard drive with too much scattered data, our messaging becomes inefficient. Hence, the need for regular de-fragmentation.

I see this in larger settings as well, such as pharmaceutical training departments. Courses, programs, workshops – they get added over time to address specific needs, and where once there may have been a strategically-designed curriculum, now there is fragmentation – particularly in a fast-evolving setting.

In fact, this is common among individuals – people who reach a point in their career where they’ve done a bunch of things, but are no longer clear on what their true core competencies and their ideal direction really are. Personal/professional fragmentation.

Have you experienced this? What have you done to de-frag your business and get back to a clear focus?

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Is your professional direction and message CLEAR? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Discovering Your Professional DNA

>> Don’t Do These Three Things on LinkedIn

Branding the Flag

I’m going to really step in it today, but a (political/branding) discussion with strong feelings is already brewing, and maybe we can attempt to have a reasonable conversation about it.

Think with me for a few minutes.

Yesterday, on the Barack Obama twitter feed, the following tweet appeared, with a link leading to the image shown below:

(one of several posters you can order for $35.00)

My immediate reaction was one of being offended, a sentiment shared by many others, judging from the on-line reaction. This is hardly, of course, the first time that the American flag has been artistically altered in some fashion. However, the immediate message that this graphic sent to me was that we Americans are to be united under Mr. Obama. The replacement of the 50 stars and the 13 stripes (representing people and states united under a Constitution), seemed jarring and presumptuous. If a big Romney R were in the upper left corner, I’d feel the same way. From a branding perspective, should it not be obvious that this approach would offend many who feel a deep reverence for the American flag? How would people in the Armed Services feel about seeing this rendition?

You. Just. Don’t. Do. That. Or so it seemed to me on the gut reaction level.

But that’s my reaction. And I’m interested to know how others feel. I’m going to encourage you to add your comment, but here are the ground rules:

1. In one sentence, describe your gut emotional reaction to this graphic and approach, in one of three ways: Offensive, Neutral, Positive.

2. In that same sentence or perhaps one other, explain why you feel that way.

On this blog, we talk a lot about branding, and a lot about condensed and vivid messaging. Political campaigns are all about that. I’d like to know how others respond to altered flag imagery.

DO NOT go off on a political rampage about Romney, Obama, Bush, Iraq, the deficit, Putin, Ayn Rand, or whatever – those arguments are raging everywhere and this blog isn’t the place for it. Don’t go on a bashing rampage about “the other” political party. I’ll delete such comments. Let’s keep it to a discussion of this one issue about use of American flag imagery in this particular instance. If you have longer-form thoughts about artistic use of flag imagery in general, you might want to have that discussion on your own blog. Agreed?

Go!

Book Review: Fierce Loyalty

There are any number of books – thousands, really – that will give you advice on how to build a business. But nowadays, that’s not enough. How do you build a community?

That’s the topic Sarah Robinson is addressing in a brief but meaty e-book called Fierce Loyalty. I talk a lot about professional DNA at the individual level – Sarah scales up to examine something equally vital: the DNA of successful communities.

From a summary of the book:

Building and sustaining a fiercely loyal community of clients, customers and raving fans is critical for success in today’s turbulent marketplace. Organizations, both corporate and non-profit, that are thriving have discovered a secret – the underlying DNA shared by all wildly successful communities. Fierce Loyalty unlocks this secret DNA and lays out a clear model that any organization of any size can follow.

Business strategist Sarah Robinson helps you break down the process and gives you clear, specific steps for a fiercely loyal community squarely in the center of your business plan. Drawing on her own extensive experience as well as her research into the inner working of some of the most successful communities around, Sarah de-mystifies the process and gives an actionable model along with real-world case studies and action steps designed to make Fierce Loyal happen in your organization.

This is not a dry, drawn-out business book. It has a more personal and informal tone, and is more suggestive (demonstrating a framework of community-building) than exhaustive (300 pages of mind-numbing research, quotes, examples, and fluff – you know that drill!)

Speaking of practical and down-to-earth, I particularly like this perspective, right up front on page 10: I learned one very important lesson as I took on the challenges of my first job. It’s a lesson that will help you face your own challenges as you build Fierce Loyalty. Once you grasp it, you’ll use it again and again and it will propel you forward no matter what stands in your path. That lesson was and is: make a decision. Every day, decide that a fiercely loyal community is your goal, no matter what.

Sarah outlines the details of fiercely loyal community creation into these 5 building blocks:

  1. A Captivating Common Interest
  2. People Who Share this Common Interest
  3. A Set of Compelling Needs
  4. A Specific Organizational Structure
  5. Advanced Evolution of the Community

I won’t give any more away, but if you need an excerpt to whet your appetite – well, click right here!

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in this book, nor are any links above affiliate links. I do think highly of Sarah and her work, however! And, she did provide me with a free copy of the e-book to review.

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Is your professional direction and message CLEAR? Hire Steve Woodruff for Clarity Therapy!

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Discovering Your Professional DNA

>> Publishing on a Diet – SlimBooks

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