TCU Daily Skiff Thursday, March 25, 2004
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Creativity catches employer’s eye

Emily Goodson is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Athens.

The frigid winter months have passed and spring is finally here. For seniors, however, graduation is approaching, and it’s time to brush up that resume, dust off those business suits and prepare for “The Great Job Hunt.”

Programs like Junior Jumpstart and Senior Seminar are designed to help prepare college students for job-hunting after graduation. I recently attended Junior Jumpstart, where the agenda included seminars on the rules of résumé writing, interviewing, internship searching and networking, as well as lunch with professionals from a variety of fields.

However, as we boarded the bus back to TCU after six hours of being inundated with advice on the “right” way to write a résumé (chronological or functional format) and dress for an interview (conservatively with dark colors), I could not help asking myself what we all look like from the employers’ side. If thousands of college graduates across the country are following these same “rules,” as a collective we must appear to be some drone army of job-seekers, offering the same résumés and many of the same answers in interviews. I wondered if those who interview candidates ever get tired of seeing the same type of potential employee parade through what must seem a revolving door of business suits and skirts.

Granted, many jobs in today’s job market do not require formal business dress every day of the week, especially those in the more flexible fields of medicine, social work and the fine arts. Nevertheless, to get these jobs, candidates will have to endure the same application and review process as students entering the more business-oriented fields of advertising, finance and education.

I have often wondered why the job-search process has become so rigid that it allows little to no room for creativity. Is it really so wrong to have a résumé that is different, or to wear something more chic than a business suit? Bradley Richardson, author of “Jobsmarts for Twentysomethings,” writes that, “Being creative and off the wall takes guts and a special personality, but often that may be exactly what is needed to push you over the top, and ahead of the competition.”

As an example, Richardson cites the story of a woman applying for a marketing position with a vineyard. The woman created her résumé on a wine label, placed it on a bottle, and sent it to the company. Another young woman, a recent college graduate, knew her interviewers were concerned about her lack of experience. After her interview, she sent the company’s executives a Kermit the frog doll with a note reading, “I’m green, but I’m good.” Cheesy? Yes. However, these stories are examples of applicants who took a more daring, creative route and benefited from the decision.

Now, I am not saying everyone should send stuffed animals or alcohol to potential employees, and certainly the way you choose to express your creativity should fit the job you are applying for. However, the idea that using your imagination in the process of job hunting is a disadvantage is wrong. Candidates who use subtle creativity to market themselves may, in fact, put themselves ahead of the competition, simply because their resume may stand out from other standard, formatted, black-and-white resumes in the stack.

To put this differently, imagine going to the movie theater to catch a flick. Only, when you arrive, all the movies are the same. Perhaps they have different actors, but the script, plot and settings are exactly alike. Those movies would start to look pretty bland after awhile. Now, imagine the movie on the last screen comes with 3-D glasses. This movie, though it contains the same story as the other movies, is now more interesting because it’s just a bit different. This same concept can be applied to job hunting.

To all the seniors, and anyone beginning the job hunt, have the gumption to try something different this time. Remember, if it does not work, it’s not the end of the world, and you can always visit Career Services to pick up a packet on writing a traditional résumé .
TCU Daily Skiff ©2004
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