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Quality matters

We purchased a new dishwasher, and it was installed on Saturday. The installation tech asked me if I had some paper towels. I handed him a partial roll – plain white, no packaging. He remarked, “Oh, you use Viva. These are the best paper towels!” And we had a moment there in my kitchen, geeking out about why Viva paper towels are so much better than all the rest.

Photo from Amazon

I’m gonna try to draw two thoughts about your job search from this brief exchange about paper towels. (What follows is neither a paid endorsement nor an affiliate arrangement; I simply have strong feelings about paper towels and I’m not afraid to tell the world.)

First: Most people recognize quality when they see it. With Viva, it’s the cloth-like texture of the towels, and how they kind of stick to each other so the whole roll doesn’t unspool when you try to tear off one towel. They are super-absorbent, and they tear easily and perfectly every single time. It’s clear that the people who make Viva paper towels have put a lot of thought and care into making their product the absolute best.

Your resume can be crafted to convey quality. Your resume should communicate, both directly and indirectly, that you care enough about your career to put extra care into creating the public representation of your professional brand. You do this by thoughtfully writing its content, and also by using formatting, fonts, and graphics to give it a unique and compelling look and feel. If your resume looks amazing, is easy to read and error free, it suggests to the hiring manager that you’ll do equally careful and excellent work for their company. Which, of course, you will.

Second: Sometimes, we find connections with others on the unlikeliest of points. Dishwasher guy was behind schedule, and wanted to get in and out of our house and on to his next job. But he did take a moment to notice the paper towels, and to remark on them.

Remember the power of connection when curating your resume content. If you have room, include something on your resume that rounds out your profile and conveys that you’re more than just a set of skills: You’re a pretty cool human.

Example time! Let’s say you include on your resume that you’re enthusiastic about choral singing, running, and space exploration. Those are three very different interests, and not ones that might often be found in the same person. That makes me want to learn more about you. If I was interviewing you, I’d ask you to talk briefly about those interests. And guess what? I, too, am a choral singer! What are the odds?! Now, we have something in common, and I’m going to remember your interview, even if I’ve conducted ten others (and trust me, they do all run together after a point).

Most hiring managers are trained to resist giving extra weight to such affinities when evaluating candidates. But I’ll tell you a secret: If it comes down to you and one other equally qualified candidate, the affinity could be the differentiator. So don’t underestimate the value of using unique details to set yourself apart from other candidates. That applies not only to your resume, but also to your cover letter and your LinkedIn profile.

I realize this is a lot to glean from a brief exchange over paper towels. The larger point is this: Even the smallest details on a resume can make a big difference in how you’re perceived, whether you are selected to interview, and ultimately, whether you get a job offer. Take care to create a professional brand that invites interest and provides connection points in its details.

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