Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quality over Quantity

Click and Send. That's apparently the extent of the effort required to apply for a job through the mega employment websites. When we used them (in the past), it amazed me how many resumes they generated so quickly. But it was truly quantity over quality. Most were below average, bland, or just bad.

This process makes it virtually effortless for anyone to shoot their resume off to fend for itself, sans cover letter, to companies they know little or nothing about because they hadn't spent the five minutes it would take to do a little background research. When I read stories about people who send out 400 resumes in a month, it makes me wonder how much they could say about any of the companies to which they applied. And if they even care.

That's why it's a breath of fresh air to get something from someone who does the opposite, and does it well. Kimberly Durant, a recent graduate of the design program at RIT did everything right to set herself apart. She sent a custom made package in the form of a mini Chinese takeout box containing her resume, letter and work samples, all rolled into little scrolls tied with ribbons inside the box.

When anyone can blast off an email, old fashioned "snail mail" still stands out. Kimberly took it even a step further and sent it in a carrier box via Fedex. Her cover letter referenced favorite examples of our work as posted on our website. Not hard to find. But few people take the time. By describing this in her letter, she showed a genuine interest in what we do, and related it to her experience and how she could help us.

Not surprisingly, she followed up by phone and email. Kimberly's effort demonstrated initiative, research, skill and craft. That's way more than most people do with a portfolio in an in-person interview. And That's impossible by "click and send."

Copyright 2009, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Creative Thinking: The Way Out

I suck at math. Always have. I always thought it was the way my mind was wired, and that is true to a degree. But that notion changed for me a couple of years ago when I was at my son's middle school for a "back to school night." It was one of those events where the parents go from classroom to classroom and hear about what their kids will be doing in each. The math teacher was a man on his second career (teaching), and he was very enthusiastic about it. He did a demonstration about how he taught math concepts in different ways. One was with a beaker full of liquid in a discussion about volume. He explained how he used props to demonstrate the math concepts he was talking about. That's when it clicked for me. He was using a visual to demonstrate an abstract. In ten seconds he made me understand what a seventh grade tutors threw up their hands over. I got it. It was a creative approach, and it worked. He had turned the abstract into something immediately tangible.

People tend to look at things "the way it's always been done." That's because this approach works most of the time. But when things, like banks and car companies fail, the usual thinking doesn't work. That's when people need to look at things in different ways.

The country didn't get out of the Great Depression, or any of the eleven recessions since by doing business as usual. Not to suggest we're in a depression or anything close, but what we really need as a nation is some good creative thinking. The way you solve new problems is by looking at them from different sides. And that's probably not the way your math teacher did it.

Copyright 2009, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.