The Hiring Tight Rope
How do I show I’m unique in a standardized hiring system? Ilana Gershon acknowledges in her work Down and Out in the New Economy that “to be hired, job applicants have to be reasonably competent at a range of genres” like having a concise resume and definitely having a LinkedIn profile (67). You must have these things, but do you have to do it all the same way?
Gershon discusses how everyone uses business cards, but why not sticky notes? She discusses how “sticky notes could substitute for business cards only because what is important about business cards as a genre is how they allow knowledge to circulate” and “any piece of paper can serve this function, even a sticky note” (68). This is an example of how there is a standard genre to share information in a convent way, in a way that is not like the rest. Can job applicants do this in how they market themselves?
Gershon says that you want to be generic to show that you understand the norms of the job, but “you want to be distinctive and also indicate that you are unlike all the others” (85). The balance comes from meeting their requirements but highlighting your unique experience. So while I have experience creating a marketing campaign, I can talk about the unique strategy we used, which makes my experience now stand out from the others
But its hard because there is a standard hiring process and for job seekers “standardization gets in the way of letting them present how they will in fact fit into a workplace” (87). Look at the differences between a resume and your LinkedIn profile. They are both required today and have norms of how they look. A resume is supposed to be made specific for the position, while your LinkedIn should be made “with the broadest professional audience in mind” (70). This highlights the confusing nature of trying to balance being generic and overly-specialized. I believe the balance is that the language and information should be consistent in both. While my LinkedIn is exhaustive of everything I’ve done, my resume highlights specifics for the job I’m applying for.
Some traits that make me blend in with other applicants are that I am creative, flexible, and I can write a press release. While those are very generic, it is expected that I have those traits. Now I need to focus on how I am unique. A way I can do this is recognizing my specific strengths and weaknesses. I want to show what extra skills I can contribute. For weaknesses, I’ll acknowledge what they are and add what I’ll do to get better.
Gershon writes “evaluating how someone has done their job in the past is a far cry from evaluating how well they do the task of writing the resumes, cover letters, and application forms that people have to fill out in order to be hired” (87). This is a difficult process to navigate, but in understanding this reality and learning how to balance it all, I will be more successful.