As I sat watching the cars whiz by me on the interstate, I envied them all their 4 good tires, all full of air going around and around, 70 miles per hour plus.
I, on the other hand, had only three, which is why I am here, on the shoulder of the highway I had only moments ago been on. Air conditioning blowing cold, Bob Marley playing at about a level 21 on my level 20 radio, speedo needle dipping just a little over 75, quite confident in my ability to reach my destination in the time I had allotted for myself, not a care in the world, just cruisin’ man, just cruisin’.
The soulful Rastafarian’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’ was abruptly interrupted by the sound of rubber being thrown forcefully into the wheel wells, and echoing throughout the cabin. A sense of dread suddenly gripped my soul as my mind tried to come to grips with the sudden change in atmosphere. All of the usual questions came up:
Do I have a spare?
Do I have a jack?
Do I have one of those things that undoes the bolts on the bad wheel?
Do I have roadside assistance?
Do I have time for this?
The answer to the last question was superfluous at best.
I landed as gently as I could on the shoulder, popped the trunk release and headed for an area of my car, that until now I had only heard of. I rarely carry passengers in my car so the backseat typically holds anything that would normally be fodder for the trunk.
I raised the deck lid, not sure of what I might find, and tried to remember what the car salesman had told me about this area and the tools within when I bought this car 5 years ago. A tab marked ‘pull here’ lurked conspicuously from the right corner of the carpeted trunk. So I pulled, and to my delight, was rewarded with the sight of a wheel with a somewhat smaller tire wrapped around it, and a nifty little plastic bag bolted to the center of the hub with every tool necessary to accomplish the task at hand. I won’t bore you with the details of the next few moments of this scenario, but suffice it to say these car guys really no how to put together a step-by-step manual. It was written as though I had never seen a car before, much less had knowledge that the wheels were actually changeable.
The guy who wrote this step-by-step brochure made sure that I was parked on a level surface. He also made sure I turned the lug wrench to the left to loosen the wheel and to the right to tighten the wheel in steps 10 and 24 respectively.
Now I’m no mechanic by any stretch of the imagination, but this manual could have been less then three steps long and it would have sufficed for most people.
Step 1 . Raise Car
Step 2. Remove old wheel, put new wheel in its place
Step 3. Lower Car
Had I been tasked with this project, that is what you would find in your trunk marked, “Instruction Manual.”
Soon enough I was back on the road, but the detail of that manual reminded me how often people will hand in a resume almost as simplistic as my version of the instructions and then scratch their head and wonder why the phone’s not ringing off the hook.
Instructions manuals are written with the idea in mind that the reader has absolutely no preconceived ideas about the task they are about to undertake, Most are simple yet detailed to the point that Einstein and I both can understand them and decipher them equally as well.
While most resumes are written for a target audience, you never know if the person making the decision will be Einstein or me. If you always assume they are me, like the folks who wrote the manual for changing my tire, then your chances of success go way up.
Written by Rob Poindexter, sales executive and sailor, who, as Jacqui’s husband, provides an observer’s perspective to job-search coaching and resume writing.