Veronica Park is an author, journalist and world-traveler of many different past and future vocations. Keep an eye out for her first published novel, which will hopefully be announced soon. In the meantime, you can read about her exploits in the Caribbean and find out her opinion on pretty much everything by following her on Twitter (@VeroniKaboom) and checking out her website.
What is a “Career Persona,” and why do you need one? Why can’t you just be yourself, your whole self, and nothing but yourself? Because, to quote Sweet Brown from the popular YouTube video, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (such as my most recent tribute to resume attractiveness, The YARD Test) the kind of person who will read your resume – for the purpose of this article, we’ll call them the “hiring body” – probably reads A LOT of other resumes. And if I may get just a little bit real here for a second, 90% of those resumes probably contain a list of qualifications equal to – or at least extremely similar to – yours.
Unless of course you’re special in some way that has nothing to do with the job you’re applying for, like your name is Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark, and you’re not just a business person but also a billionaire-playboy-philanthropist. (In which case, I can’t help but ask, why are you even applying for a job, man? Go get a hobby! Fight some crime or something.)
For most of us mere mortals, standing out in the job market isn’t easy. It’s not because we aren’t skilled, or personable, or interesting as human beings. It’s simply because, most people who are out there searching for jobs are just as human as we are.
Which is why, in the job market, appealing to a hiring body’s human sensibilities helps you not at all. Seriously, I’ve been in the position of having to weed people out and choose the most-suited candidate for years, and I can tell you I am not a heartless person. But after culling through the fiftieth-or-so cover letter explaining how great the job candidate is, or how badly he or she wants or needs the job, my eyes start to roll around in my head and I start seriously looking for reasons not to keep reading.
We get it. You’re complex. The Joker killed your parents, and now you’re emotionally damaged. But that’s not going to WOW me into giving you a job.
Here’s what will wow me into giving you a job:
I am THE BATMAN. You don’t need to know my life story, or how I came to be where I am today. All you need to know is that I am the masked crusader who will fulfill all of your crime-fighting needs, and more.
I am skilled in all possible forms of martial arts, including but not limited to: karate, Jiu-Jitsu, Mao-tai, kick boxing, hand-to-hand combat and fencing. I studied for three years under the infamous Ra’s al Ghul in Tibet, and single-handedly escaped The Pit without the use of a rope. I also defeated Bane by kicking him and punching him many times in the face. In my current position, I save the city of Gotham on a daily basis, and I can provide very impressive character references which include Commissioner Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent. My weaknesses include brunettes with foreign accents. (Just kidding, don’t put your weaknesses on a resume, Batman.)
Coherence, a.k.a. Tying it All Together in a Neat Little Bow. (SHA-WING!)
Because of the aforementioned qualifications – and because, lest you forget, in my earlier cover letter I proved that I am both thorough and resourceful by researching your company’s mission statement and pointing out how my career persona could augment many of your overall goals – I can categorically state that I am the ideal candidate for this position.
VIP: Notice that the final statement is bold and uncompromising. Essentially, your career persona should be everything you aspire to be. You know that saying, “Dress for the job you want?” The same goes for your actions. Act like the job is yours, like you deserve it, because attitude is 90% of the battle. Your career persona shouldn’t beg to be considered. It should kick the door open—metaphorically speaking—and swagger in with its head held high, instantly making all the other job candidates pale in comparison.
I know it sounds crazy, but it works. Why does it work? Because until you’re hired, in the mind of the hiring body, you aren’t a person. You’re a job candidate, a symbol of a potential risk or benefit. When it comes to symbols, simplicity stands out. It’s bold. It’s memorable.
So don’t be the Bruce Wayne. BE THE BATMAN.
Tune in next time to find out how you can turn your Bruce Wayne-style “issues” – a.k.a., your perceived weaknesses – into Batman-like strengths, when Veronica Park returns for BE THE BATMAN: Part Two.