Avoiding Being a Cookie-Cutter Job-seeker In Your Resume and Throughout Your Job Search


As a member of a new community of resume writers, career coaches, and other career experts called the Career Collective, I am posting this entry as one of many responses to the question, “Are you a cookie cutter job seeker?” I encourage you to visit other members’ responses, linked at the end of this entry. Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.
When I think of “cookie-cutter job seekers,” a couple of scenarios come to mind: Do you use a Microsoft Word template as the basis for your resume? There’s nothing inherently wrong with these templates, and they can be useful to get started on your resume if you’ve never created one before. But consider how many thousands of people are probably using the same template. If you use one, your resume will not stand out. And, as useful as a template is for prompting you to plug in the appropriate information for your resume, I’ve found that these Microsoft templates are rather inflexible if you want to try to customize them to create a standout resume. If you need prompts and organizing tools to get started with your resume, consider looking at samples created by talented and effective resume writers. You can find samples in many resume books, all over the Internet, and of course, here at Quintessential Careers. See our resume samples here. Also think about using worksheets, such as those we offer here to develop your resume. (But don’t be a cookie cutter by copying every aspect of a sample resume!) The Cookie-Cutter syndrome is not limited to resumes. Take this story about a former student of mine who graduated last year. She is bright talented, had two majors and minor, and had completed several excellent internships. Alas, she graduated right about the time the economy melted down and struggled mightily to find a job. I told her the best thing she could do is conduct informational interviews. Informational interviewing is a subset of networking and a highly effective way to get your foot in the door with an employer. Several weeks after I gave her that advice, I asked her if she was doing informational interviews. She said she didn’t put as much stock in them as I did and wasn’t doing them. Why? Did she have any real experience doing them? No. But because informational interviewing is not a well-known job-search technique and is out of the mainstream, she thumbed her nose at this approach. How’s she doing now? She’s struggling to make ends meet by working a retail job and an entry-level office job. Both are far below the kind of job her college experience prepared her for. Sadly, she preferred to be a cookie-cutter job-seeker and simply employ the same methods every other job-seeker uses. More Career Collective thoughts on avoiding being a cookie-cutter job-seeker: