Last week, I stumbled onto my blogged “Real Talk” featured on a Monster.com and BBC News article (not sure which site referenced which): http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20150213-skip-this-on-your-cv-or-else . Basically, I was harping on a resume-writing grievance: fluff words [‘damned, insipid weed of words blotting out the view of their substantive counterparts’].
I constantly draw parallels in best practices between dating and job-hunting. The same thing that works in a kitschy, dim-lit Italian restaurant date often works in a more ‘austere’ office interview. I mourn the fact that many of us subvert real talk for political correctness, a pony show of one-way vetting that erases our strong and beautiful lines.
Let me pivot to the dating arena. I was showing a bro-friend samples of good and bad messaging approaches on Okcupid in my book and this reminded me about my thoughts on aforementioned article (for which I caught flak from quite a few defensive readers – hint, hint: click that link because who doesn’t love to read trash talk). Exposé:
– The wall-flower statement:I’ m honest, loyal, considerate, fun to hang out, laid backed and always with a good attitude. <- Same canned excrement you could find on resume: “I’m a team player with good problem solving skills.” Aka, I am your bland, white-bread spread that tells you nothing about who I am. I’m the Mr. Nice guy next door who colors inside the lines and cries because girl doesn’t get my awesomeness when I don’t even know what it is. I’m also the guy with the resume that’s a rap-sheet of responsibilities and no accomplishments.
-The TV-dinner, EZ-mac rendition of Point Z: “Let’s meet” or “Let me take you out to dinner.” Deafening period. Bold, declarative intent is inherently good but you don’t just tender a prospective employer to “hire me” or “to partner up” nor submit a resume that says “Looking for a xyz job opportunity where I can xyz” in an otherwise sea of blank white space. (Shy away from a job objective which is the resume-version of a toddler going take-sey, crying “Me want.” Be an adult table-setting your value in your give-sy professional summary.)
– The canned compliments: “Hey there, you seem like a nice person, liked your profile…” Nice is criminally stale in many a contexts. It’s a remedial class way of saying someone is awesome but probably not knowing if and how they actually are awesome. “Your company seems nice to work for” <– You think that would make a hiring manager lean back in his tufted leather chair and lick his lips?
– The Cyber Cat Caller: Damn…you are hot…isn’t it hot in herre? Lol.” <– Extra negative points for misspelling and the invocation of “Lol.”
WINS or somethings closer:
As I mentioned in my profile, I work in defense. Don’t get excited. It isn’t a Jason Bourne situation. I lead teams building cool software related to national security. I love it. There are few things I would rather do. Probably Major League Baseball player. Definitely Batman. But that’s about it. When did you figure out teaching is your passion? Once you get your master’s will you focus more on policy or administration? <– Funny, true story: He became one of my billable consultants for a more ‘Simon Cowell’ than ‘Paula Abdul’ type of client. I credit this to the way he wowed them by knowing and belting out the unapologetic, raw, strong innards of himself– in tandem with his technical prowess.
I’ve never done an online dating site and last week was my first time on this. Your profile resonated with me and, yes, I thought you were very pretty… (I get that’s said to you but it doesn’t illegitimize my perception)I really would like to learn about you and it dawned on me after talking to a girlfriend that I shouldn’t ask you out in the first note but I’m direct, so my apologies but would love to get together for a drink if that’d be comfortable for you?
I thought your profile was hilariously written. My dad is an author and my sister writes for Entertainment Weekly in NYC… So the writing genes weren’t evenly dispensed there. My preferred means of self expression is through the spoken word. <– So, this one was a bit more ‘school boy’ but it felt real and interesting all the same. The guy was humble and honest– acknowledged his descent into the ‘clique’ stuff, showed he’d taken the time to really browse through my profile, and give meaningful giveaways about himself.
Anyhow, I’d walk over a floor of broken glass for the chance to talk to you more online, let alone in person, a la Bruce Willis in Die Hard. So, say something! Otherwise I’m going to make a mess trying to recreate that scene. <–[A guy’s second or third message.] Humor and non-serious self-deprecation is usually Good Game.
Can’t forget the haters:
Well written, your profile is elegant in style but arrogance is very apparent. Michel Richard-type places? Dear, you are not Cheese-Cake Factory worthy. Don’t think your pretty looks allows you to say whatever you want. After-all, this is okcupid and I found the ok in your personality by looking at your profile picture and reading your summary. <– I like this guy’s writing. He’s intelligent if not all-discerning. (However, I stand by the belief that my love for the esoteric and non-franchised restaurants can be more real talk than it is princess talk.)
My two cents on how not to ‘flunk:’
Engage in real talk. I’m not saying be real butt-naked right off the bat style (unless you are cool with it). Shed some of your clothing. Judiciously excerpt yourself in a way that’s comfortable and manageable for someone who’s not used to you yet and who you are not yet used to.
Don’t troll; don’t copy-paste; don’t do a ‘one size fits all’ approach– at least not if you are online to find something “serious.” Ya know, as a recruiter, even the pressure of turn-around times and requirements has led me down the pathway of canned email-blast merges. It’s so easy to save an email template beginning with “I came across your resume and felt you had the skills we are looking for!” In the recruiting world, where it’s nowadays a seller’s market, sometimes you do gotta troll and fish mass-factory style to raise the odds of catching a few svelte blue-fins caught in the mix (WHILE also doing some more targeted deep-mining for the diamonds in the rough). The thing is, it’s usually insulting because the reader knows it’s impersonal. The average girl on OKC and the (not as average) Open Stack, Palentir-alumni Big Data guy on Dice.com gets enough solicited interest. They aren’t going to dignify an “I don’t give a crap enough” type of solicitation from sender.
When I actually take the time to articulate how I “see” someone and rationalize my interest, they often bite. Even those not on the job market. I emailed one cool tech cat: “Going through resumes, I found yours and I really like your overall experience– from the CI practitioning to the way you talked about your fluency in languages (love the “conversational” and “speak haltingly” verbage), the Fitnesse and Selenium test refactoring, work with ElasticSearch and Big Data, and even the side Groovy/Ruby/Perl.” <— I told him enough details to convince him I had taken the time to vet him out if even in a prelim, window-shopping way and he responded appreciatively: I have to tell you that I can count on one hand the number of people who have responded with the level of personal detail that you have shown in your email to me. I receive many (generic?) emails from recruiters that do not even mention my name, for example. He went on to propose a phone conversation or Starbucks meetup.
Aline Lerner recently wrote a brilliant article ( https://blog.hired.com/what-i-learned-from-reading-8000-recruiting-messages/ ) where she shows the correlation between personalized, targeted messages with positive response rates. I think what she and I have to say works for both the potential ‘rockstars’ of your work or dating world.
I’m better at Olde-English absinthe or other formal speech but here’s a rapper-rhapsodic reminder: “Do You.”