Chumming the Idea Waters: Three Links

To me, few things are more fun in life than listening to (or reading articles from) people who have unconventional ideas and unorthodox opinions about things — just as long as they’re being “intellectually honest” and are willing to defend and debate their point-of-view.  Consensus thinking is usually pretty boring, after all.  Even in the career management and job hunting sphere.

So while I don’t always agree with every one of my peers out there in the career coaching field, I definitely gravitate to those people pushing something beyond “parachute colors” and who continuously offer up new and challenging perspectives about things.  Along these lines, I stumbled across three provocative articles recently that I thought some of you might enjoy — or that would at least challenge your current thinking on a few career-related fronts.  See what you think.

How to Apply for a Job: The Working Resume
Nick Corcodilos, Author of the Ask the Headhunter Blog

Matt’s Comment: Is Nick right?  Is the best form of resume out there the one you throw in the garbage can?  A growing minority of career counselors (Nick being the most prominent) are advocating that people cast off the crutch of the resume and learn how to sell themselves and their qualifications in a more direct, proactive way.  As for me, I’m not there yet.  While the average job seeker definitely could be a lot more creative in their approach toward landing conversations with companies, the resume is undeniably still the “common currency” of the job hunting process — and refusing to use one, in my eyes, would be akin to walking into a 7-11 and trying to pay the clerk in chickens or lima beans, instead of cash.  The majority of companies still insist you produce this document if you want to work for them, and bucking their process isn’t likely to win you any converts.  So while yes, there are certain situations when you shouldn’t lead with your resume, and you should constantly explore innovative ways you can use to prove your capabilities to employers, I don’t think this issue comes down to an either/or question at the end of the day.  Use a resume when it’s required and bypass this step, when it’s not.  There’s a “best of both worlds” solution to be had here, at least in my opinion.

How to Manage a College Education
by Penelope Trunk, Author of the Brazen Careerist Blog

Matt’s Comment: If you followed the above link, you likely noted that the first two sentences pretty much set the tone for the whole piece: “The idea of paying for a liberal arts education is over.  It is elitist and a rip off and the Internet has democratized access to information and communication skills to the point that paying $30K a year to get them is insane.”  This is standard Penelope.  She’s an unapologetic bomb thrower (in a good way) who has been writing for years that the business world as we know it is changing in a number of revolutionary ways and that most people (especially Gen X’rs and Baby Boomers) are still utterly oblivious to these trends — or turning a blind eye to them, at the very least.  As for her suggestion that liberal arts degrees are no longer a good investment, wow, that’s a tough one.  While I agree that people can educate themselves in an amazing array of new ways, thanks to the Internet, this contention (to me) naively ignores one key question: would they?  Would the average person truly have the motivation, especially as a young adult, to spend hours and hours a day practicing their writing skills, learning good study habits, giving presentations, and developing a number of other core competencies without the structure of a college/university to encourage this?   Aren’t there also valuable social lessons and rites of passage that are far more likely to be experienced in an on-campus setting versus by a person sitting at home studying Wikipedia all night?  Granted, the world of higher education isn’t for everybody, and a motivated person can learn in a dizzying array of different ways in this day of age, but to call a liberal arts degree “insane” seems a bit melodramatic.

Get Real: Your Brand Isn’t Your Issue
by Lance Haun, Author of the Rehaul Blog

Matt’s Comment:  While the least provocative article of the three, I’d suppose, I still couldn’t resist sharing it because it echoed a lot of the same thoughts I had while putting a presentation together the other day on the topic of personal branding.  The term “branding” has been hijacked to the point that it’s almost become meaningless, in my opinion.  Most job hunters don’t need to focus much on “branding themselves” unless a) they’re seeking to become highly recognized thought experts in their field or b) they’ve first gotten all of the easier things right, such as the copywriting, networking, and marketing (aka lead generation) aspects of their search.  What’s more, while branding largely deals with the world of perceptions, this doesn’t mean that “reality” doesn’t count for something.  As Lance discusses in the case of Monster.com, the site would likely have far more success if they focused their time, effort, and money on actually making the site work better instead of on simply creating a new “look” for the site and hoping that will bring visitors back in droves.  Some old saying about lipsticks and pigs comes to mind.  So when it comes to job hunters, while image does indeed count for something, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got substance, too.  If you’re not taking steps to make sure you continue to be pretty spectacular, at whatever you do for a living, no amount of branding is likely to fix things.

Just a few “thought appetizers” for you all as we head into the weekend.  If you have anything to share on these subjects, or agree or disagree with any of my own observations, definitely don’t hesitate to chime in with a comment!

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