Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Job-Hunt Zen: Be the Mirror


Today's link is to a practical way to tailor your resume. You know you should be doing that for each and every job you are applying for--right? (Sending off a passel of generic resumes is the quickest way to get yourself tossed into the cyber-black-hole.)

Have the job posting in front of you as you tailor your resume. This writer suggests two word processing windows next to each other as you work, so you can keep a steady eye on how your resume answers the exact qualifications the employer is seeking.

No, you cannot remake your English degree into a degree in Biomechanical Engineering of Multimodal Spectrometrics (not that there is any such thing... as far as I know). But you can figure out what to highlight, and what to let recede into the background. You can mimic the linguistic style of the job posting. If you are responding to an item that is typeset or displayed on a company website, you can replicate some of the design details in your response.

This is a strategy in other forms of communication, too. You can get people to like you, see you as credible, take what you have to say seriously, by mimicking some of their body language. 

For instance, you already know you should dress like you anticipate your interviewer will dress. That is, if it's a formal place, by all means pull out the business suit; but if it's a casual place, tone down the sharp edges and cut back the starch in your collar.

Likewise, if you're at a networking lunch, and your prospective employer (or anyone you're trying to get to do you a favor) picks up his or her piece of chicken with fingers--you can do likewise. On the other hand, if you see the person using knife and fork--you should do so too.

You can even replicate some of an interviewer's gestures or posture, as long as you can do so without looking contrived. (See the first item on this website, for example, "Mirroring": http://www.reading-body-language.co.uk/ten-body-language-secrets.html.)

I suggested that this is a Zen approach to job hunting, because you are not changing your own essence, any more than a finger pointing at the moon becomes more important than the moon. (See discussion of this traditional koan, or riddle, at http://www.myrkothum.com/the-meaning-of-the-finger-pointing-to-the-moon/.) Of course, Zen holds that there is no self... but that's another discussion!

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