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Is your resume a turkey?


By Robert P. Poindexter

Some of my favorite childhood memories are centered on this time of the year. I remember with great fondness the construction paper pilgrim hats and coloring in the feathers of the standard issue turkey picture. To this day, I’m amazed how differently we were able to express our own versions of what color that turkey should be.

Some of the more well-to-do children with the 64-count crayon box were better equipped to express that version than those like me who had to make do with a 12-count box. But, by the end of the day, 20–some odd-colored turkeys were taped around our classroom for the entire world to see and admire, each proudly signed by its artist.

Some of my classmates used our school colors to adorn them. Some went with the ever-popular monotone theme expressing their adoration for one particular color or their laziness where coloring turkeys was concerned.

Some liked using every color available to them making sure not to repeat the same color twice on the fanned feathers. I personally was of the “patterned color” school of thought. In other words, I chose a few of my favorite colors and then would alternate them from feather to feather until they were all filled in.

Then there were the “scrawlers.” I did not like the artwork produced by them at all. They tended to use only one color (usually black or orange), and never stayed inside the lines. Also irritating was the fact that so much of the picture remained un-colored. It literally looked as though they were making a half-hearted attempt to “scratch” out the turkey instead of coloring it in. But still, as much as it may have upset my artistic palate, it was essentially their version of what a turkey looked like to them.

One year I approached one of these scrawlers, expressing my disdain for his artwork, only to realize he was not a scrawler by choice. He confided this to me as we sat outside the principal’s office waiting to hear what our punishment would be. (Apparently he did not appreciate my critique, and the teacher did not appreciate the ensuing brawl.)

So there we sat, me with a busted lip and him with a shiner that was getting shinier by the second. He told me no one had ever taken the time to show him how to properly color inside the lines. When I explained to him that I was trying to do that before he fattened my lip, he suggested I start using a different approach when it comes to “helping” anyone else.

He was right, of course. As luck would have it, the principal was in the holiday spirit, and we got off with a stern talking-to and were sent back to class.

We spent the rest of the afternoon together perfecting his ability to color. I agreed to soften my approach, and he agreed to be more open to learning proper techniques. By the end of that day he was a reformed scrawler, and I had learned a valuable lesson in constructive criticism.

Many of the clients who approach CareerTrend asking us to review their resume shock me with the resistance they show in allowing us to help them color inside the lines. They want to be told the document they already have is suitable for framing when in reality no human eyes should ever have to view it.

It is never our intention to make our clients feel bad with these reviews; it is just our strong desire that they wind up with a turkey picture they can be proud to display on the classroom wall of life.

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