What Do You Mean?

By Rob Poindexter

“A ship is more then sails, a keel, a hull and a mast. Those things are what a ship is. But what a ship means is freedom,” to loosely quote Capt. Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame.

I’ve watched this movie somewhere around 150 times, and while it is pure fantasy, there is some pretty meaty dialogue, thanks to some great writers at Disney.

The quote above, in my humble opinion, is well suited to many aspects of our daily lives–particularly where the job seeker is concerned.

Just the other day a friend of mine asked me to take a look at her resume, and while I am not the expert in my family, even to my untrained eye, I could see why she wasn’t getting much attention from it. It was, as a lot of resumes are, simply a data dump: a list of jobs she has held, awards she has received and degrees she has earned, all neatly typed and listed by ascending date of said accomplishments.

Of course, her name address and contact phone number as well as an e-mail address were all prominently listed at the top of the page. It was, for all intents and purposes, merely an application for employment without the fill-in-the-blank lines and a place to sign on the bottom.

This information most definitely gives the reader an idea of what she “is.” The recruiter knows where her interests lie based on where she has focused her personal pursuit. They know by her educational background what she hoped to do later in her career path. They know, too, what she was to the organizations that have bestowed awards on her for her accomplishments.

But, what does hiring her “mean”? What would these things add to the team?  How does a particular award received from a former employer add value to the position she is currently applying for? How does she plan to use her education to advance the goals this hiring manager has been tasked to accomplish? How does her climb up the ladder so far equate to her being an asset? And the list goes on. None of the answers to the questions are even broached by her simple list. And you had better believe, dear job seeker, there will rarely be a follow up interview or even a phone call if something doesn’t jump off this page of data to answer at least some of these questions.

That is where the professional resume writer can help to give “meaning” to that list: To showcase how these accomplishments will enhance the goals of your new company; by taking your list and showcasing a particular value as it pertains to the current opening. That is how you go from what you “are” to what you “mean.”

Over the years I’ve walked countless docks, and looked at countless boats tied securely in place, bare poled and closed up. None of these boats are ever as impressive to me as the one I see heeling hard against a fresh breeze, every stitch of canvas flying as they leave the safety of  the harbor. Because that’s “what a ship means.”

7 Responses to “What Do You Mean?”

  1. Ummm. The content was lost on me due to the fabulous picture of Captain Jack. Thanks for that Friday mid-afternoon pick-me-up, Rob! 😉

    You are right, it’s all in the way you present yourself. I see that so many times in resumes where the clients accomplishments get lost in the mounds of content.

    Pointing out your value is imperative to a successful job search.

    Good post.


  2. Great post Rob.

    You had me at Jack Sparrow! (Excuse me, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.) But, if that wasn’t enough the message is spot-on! A resume is your career life on paper and how you craft it makes a huge difference.

    “A resume is more than action verbs, employment dates, and job descriptions. It is your value into words and it means Power!” (wink)

  3. Lisa Correu says:

    I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell Captain Jack he’d need a makeover for his interview!
    We emphasize these points in our workshops for entry-level job seekers. Our mantra is “Not I want, I want, I want but I AM…”
    Telling an employer what makes them valuable is the key to getting attention!
    Happy Weekend!

  4. Thanks Erin, Rosa and Lisa. Erin, you’re welcome for the “pick me up” lol. Rosa, I always love meeting a true “CAPTAIN” Jack Sparrow fan. I own the trilogy as well, and next spring the fourth installment is coming out. I can hardly wait! You’re exactly right, Lisa, and you have a Happy Weekend as well. Rob

  5. […] Library in London, I spoke at the Social Media in Recruitment conference (#… 2 Tweets What Do You Mean? | Career Trend By Rob Poindexter “A ship is more then sails, a keel, a hull and a mast. Those things are what […]

  6. […] What Do You Mean? By Rob Poindexter “A ship is more then sails, a… Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin. Print This Post […]

  7. […] As a person involved in a job search, you don’t have the luxury of this type of advertisement. Your career documents must be laser focused in order to appeal to a very specific audience. Your sales pitch must be able to get the hiring manager’s attention, or you risk having your […]

Leave a Reply