Resume of a Purple Cow

A couple of years ago a friend gave me a copy of Seth Godin's Purple Cow. And as is often the case, it took me two years to read it. The good news is that nothing in Seth's book is dated and it is all quite relevant to today. The basic premise of the book is that being remarkable in some way is now necessary to succeed whether it be a service, product, or even you as a job seeker.

Here's what Seth has to say about looking for a job.

“Odds are the last time you switched jobs, you used a resume. Following conventional wisdom, you may have sent it to hundreds or thousands of employers. You may have posted it online or emailed it in an effort to network your way to a new job.”

I'm guilty of some of the above. I rarely send my resume to an employer though. Too low a response rate for the kind of effort required. I do, however, like posting my resume on job boards. It allows others to select me and by having them do so, I let them do all the filtering. Seth continues…

“All of this effort is really nothing but advertising. Advertising in a way that's very different from buying TV ads, but also very similar. After all, your resume is likely to land on the desk of someone with NO INTEREST whatsoever in you or what you're up to. Worse, it's unlikely that this strategy will lead to much word of mouth.”

I disagree with the above premise because it lumps in the act of sending resumes to employers together with posting a resume on a job board. They're different activities and reach different audiences. The first is certainly a waste of time, but time and time again I've had success with job boards despite the inevitable junk I have to wade through. More from Seth…

“There's another way. You've probably guessed it: Be exceptional. Remarkable people with remarkable careers seem to switch jobs with far less effort. Remarkable people are often recruited from jobs they love to jobs they love even more.”

Again he makes a good point, but I also think it's a very idealistic one. Sure, it's easy to say that you just need to do an exceptional job, but what if you hate your job or hate the people you're working with? What if you've been doing the same thing for many years and can't muster the enthusiasm for it like you once did? Are you supposed to dedicate 80 hours a week to your current, miserable job just for the possibility that someone might talk about you? I don't think so.

So in theory I agree with Seth's teachings, but in practice I think he's off the mark. After all, if we were all exceptional, then none of us would be exceptional.

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