Make yourself unforgettable

How do you get someone’s attention? At last week’s Invent Your Future conference, I facilitated a series of round-table discussions for women about advancing their technical careers. It was great meeting so many talented women and hearing about their professional goals. We touched on a number of topics, including how to get the attention of a recruiter when you submit your resume to a job posting. In particular, the women wanted to know how to make their resume stand out.

It made me think of the advice my daughter got just a couple of weeks ago. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know my daughter is a junior in high school and starting to think about college. We met with a counselor who was sharing some strategies writing essays for college applications. Her overall piece of advice? “Make yourself unforgettable.”

Makes sense, right? You want your application to stand out from the thousands of others that the college admissions staff will read. The same is true for cover letters and LinkedIn profile summaries. You need to emphasize what’s special about you. What will you bring to the job or to the student body that no one else will? What story can you tell in your application that people will remember weeks or years later? What is your unique personal brand?

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people over my career, and many had resumes that clearly were unforgettable. Ditto for some of my colleagues, who I interviewed for this article. Here are some of our favorite, most memorable resumes:

  • The engineer whose hobby was being a videographer for a skydiving school, which meant he jumped out of airplanes regularly.
  • The project manager who included photos of his neatly folded socks after reading my tongue-in-cheek requirement that the ideal candidate has an organized sock drawer.
  • The applicant for a bank credit investigator job who had been the Casaba Melon Queen of San Joaquin County.
  • An editor who enjoyed “small objects, aggressive vacuuming and beating my mother-in-law at Scrabble.”

In case you’re curious, each one of these candidates got the job! Obviously, they were highly qualified, and we’ll never know if they would have landed the job if their resumes hadn’t included these “unforgettable” qualities. Regardless, the moral is that you don’t need to tell something super impressive about yourself, just something that makes people want to know more.

So, whether you’re a parent helping your child apply for colleges or their first job, or a leader who’s mentoring someone through a job search, help them be unforgettable. And, share your ideas in a comment! I’d like to hear from you.


p.s. For more ideas, check out my follow-on blog post:
More thoughts on making yourself unforgettable

© 2013 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “Make yourself unforgettable

  1. It’s so refreshing to read this. I can’t tell you how many favorite details I’ve taken off my resume at someone’s advice that it had nothing to do with the job. How sad and one-dimensional to dumb-down for work. Now if only all hiring managers (and resume screeners) had the appreciation for full humans that you do.

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