Should You Write A Resume?

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article that said more firms are bypassing the requirement of a resume for new applicants.

Some outtakes from the article:  
     A résumé doesn’t provide much depth about a candidate, says Christina Cacioppo, an associate at Union Square Ventures who blogs about the hiring process on the company’s website and was herself hired after she compiled a profile comprising her personal blog, Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile, and links to social-media sites Delicious and Dopplr, which showed places where she had traveled.
     “We are most interested in what people are like, what they are like to work with, how they think,” she says.
     John Fischer, founder and owner of StickerGiant.com, a Hygiene, Colo., company that makes bumper and marketing stickers, says a résumé isn’t the best way to determine whether a potential employee will be a good social fit for the company. Instead, his firm uses an online survey to help screen applicants.
     At most companies, résumés are still the first step of the recruiting process, even at supposedly nontraditional places like Google Inc., which hired about 7,000 people in 2011, after receiving some two million résumés. Google has an army of “hundreds” of recruiters who actually read every one, says Todd Carlisle, the technology firm’s director of staffing. But Dr. Carlisle says he reads résumés in an unusual way: from the bottom up.
     Candidates’ early work experience, hobbies, extracurricular activities or nonprofit involvement—such as painting houses to pay for college or touring with a punk rock band through Europe—often provide insight into how well an applicant would fit into the company culture, Dr. Carlisle says.
     Plus, “It’s the first sample of work we have of yours,” he says.
That’s OK, but resumes are still important
Call me traditional, but writing a great resume is still a smart idea. The writing process will refine the job candidate’s thinking and his/her presentation of the material:  focus on the highlights and accomplishments, keep it concise, use action verbs, etc. To see more of my thoughts on resumes, see this article.
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The Power of an Artful Pitch

On day as we both pushed our young daughters on the swings in a neighborhook park, Raymond McKinney (a CD at The Martin Agency) told me “Good work that is presented like shit… is shit.” Luckily our daughters were both too young to pick up on the colorful language that gave flavor to that GREAT advice. I often recall those wise words, and I usually flip the quote around 180 degrees. It then takes on a little different meaning:  “Any work that is presented real well… is better work.”

Learn how to present work from the master, Peter Coughter.

Getting people to buy an idea takes two important things:  1) a good idea, and 2) a good presentation. Too often we focus so much on the idea an how the idea looks, that we forget to make sure the work is presented well.

One of the best presenters in the ad business is Peter Coughter, a colleague of mine at VCU. For years he has been inspiring young minds on the art of the presentation in his class called “Persuasion” (MASC-664) at the VCU Brandcenter.

I have never sat in on his classes, but it’s been a wish of mine for years. His work is that good. In January we’re all going to get the opportunity to learn from this master. Buy his book now, and it will make all of your work a lot better.

“The Art of the Pitch: Persuasion and Presentation Skills that Win Business”

by Peter Coughter

Release date:  January 3, 2012

Dancing and Inspiring Critical Mass

Find the tipping point in this spontaneous dance party at the 2009 Sasquatch! Music Festival (watch the video).

Gladwell (the author of The Tipping Point) is right:  little things can make a big difference. Who inspired this dance party?  Most people will credit the first guy dancing (the guy without the shirt). However, if it weren’t for the 2nd and 3rd guys, the small group of five people would not have joined in. And the small group is what inspired the huge group of people to get up and dance. This is a wonderful example of critical mass – a threshold in social behavior that triggers a larger event or a new action.  This video reveals fantastic insights into inspiration and what it takes to inspire others into action.  Brands and ad campaigns seek to inspire critical mass. Most fall short.

A few takeaways from this video:

– Everyone is a leader if he/she leads.

– Don’t try to change everyone. Change a few and everyone will follow.

– Be uncool. Cool dudes aren’t cool; they’re fearful. They limit themselves and those around them. The first 20 dancers weren’t trying to be cool; they didn’t fear being singled out. In fact, they sought the attention of being different. And the last 20 dancers joined the crowd because they were following the lead of the mass.

– Live passionately.

– If you see a good thing going on, join in.

– Allow change to take over.

– Don’t be afraid to dance your face off even if you “can’t dance.”

– Enjoy!

By the way, the song is “Unstoppable” by Santigold.

Media Complication Continues to Confuse Brands

Media fragmentation and media multiplication makes for media complication.

Traditional ways to advertise include the five traditional media — TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and outdoor (billboards). The popularity of the Internet has added a sixth media channel (online advertising) to the mix. Only 25 years ago there were three major TV networks. There was an era when advertising during prime time on those three networks could reach 80% of the households in the US. Back then, most households got a newspaper delivered to their doorstep every day. The University of Southern California now reports that 80% of Internet users (age 17 and older) consider the Internet to be an important source of information — higher than television (68 percent), radio (63 percent), and newspapers (63 percent). Hence, newspaper subscription numbers are dropping. In the last 25 years the number of magazines has gone the other way; it has doubled. Instead of general, broad-appeal magazines like Life and Reader’s Digest, today’s magazines focus their editorial toward specific audience interest. Now there are three different national magazines dedicated to crocheting that we can all subscribe to. Now, homes with a satellite dish can receive hundreds of channels. Cable homes don’t get that many, but the options are plenty. With satellite radio, iPods®, video games, Netflix® and Blockbuster®, the American public simply has a lot more home entertainment options that involve consuming media without advertising.Old TV watching

At the same time advertisers are having a hard time getting noticed by consumers, brands are having a harder time standing apart in the marketplace. It’s more competitive than ever for brands. The relative cost to bring a product to market continues to drop. Distribution is relatively easier and cheaper than ever so it’s easy for regional brands to expand into new territories. It is cheaper today to simply knock-off a successful product as compared to designing and engineering a totally new one. This phenomenon creates low product differentiation among competitors. There are more and more product options for consumers. Visit a super market and count the brand options for basic things like mayonnaise and ketchup (or catsup). Stroll down the aisle to salad dressing and the options can be overwhelming. The options for beverages (sodas, juices, beer and wine) are mind blowing. The marketplace today is full of competitors having a harder time communicating with consumers.

Meanwhile the scope for common people to communicate has grown enormously. Just twenty years ago if a company wanted to tell a million people about their product, they used one of the traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc.). There were only a few people who had access to these media because the cost was too high for the average citizen to afford it. So if a normal citizen wanted to tell a lot of people about something without spending a fortune, they could write a letter to the editor or post a sign along a busy street, but that was about it. With the Internet, people have recently been given the tools to easily communicate with millions of other people.

Citizen communicators now have an unlimited reach, and the time needed to create communications is now just seconds. People can communicate on things they experience within moments. By using a cell phone, citizen reporters send news around the world as it happens — stories, photos and video.  Disgruntled customers can air their grievances within moments of a dispute. And, happy customers can share their stories as they happen.

There is a clear change happening in media. There are new ways for companies to communicate with consumers, for consumers communicate with companies, and for consumers to communicate with other consumers. Media evolution or revolution; media democratization or saturation; media fragmentation or multiplication? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that changes in media mean changes in conversations.

Advertising is Science!

This afternoon I was speaking to Piete Blikslager about physics and how it is connected to everything. Piete is a smart guy, a wonderful writer, and a fantastic colleague of mine in the VCU ad program.  For me, the conversation solved a huge conundrum:  Advertising is science!

Newton’s first law says, “Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.”  Change the physics words to marketing words:  Every consumer in a state of uniform behavior tends to remain in that state of behavior unless a new force is applied to him/her. And, what is the “new force” that is applied to consumers to change their behavior? Advertising.
What if we aren’t trying to change a consumer’s behavior, rather we’re trying to get them to begin acting — from a non-acting position… or not in motion? Newton’s law also applies to objects not in motion (or objects in a state of motion with the speed of zero). Some ad theorists say that there are no instances when we are trying to get consumers to go from standing still to moving. Consumers are always moving; they always have inertia.
If you disagree, leave a comment and I’ll talk it over with Piete… he’s smarter than I am.
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Check out this TED video to see more links between science and branding.
Dan Cobley makes an interesting presentation showing the connections between marketing and Newton’s second law, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, the scientific method and the second law of thermodynamics. Deep stuff.

The new VCU Advertising program

In the Fall ’08 semester, VCU ad majors will no longer take courses like Art Direction, Copywriting, Account Management, and Ad Campaigns. Instead they will be required to take courses called Touch, Empathy, Awareness, and Curiousness.

Before I tell you about those weird course names, let me tell you about the overall curriculum changes and why we needed them.

Why change?  The reason is a simple one:  The ad business has changed. We needed to change to at least catch up to what is happening in the industry:

– the business of brands is less about making ads.

– there’s more collaboration now:

– creatives (writers and designers) are no longer the sole providers of creative ideas.

– media planners must understand more than numbers.

– creatives need to understand the business side.

– there’s that digital thing.

– non-traditional advertising continues to grow.

– and people hate ads more than ever.

But instead of just redesigning the curriculum to catch up to the industry, our goal was to create a program that is positioned for where the leaders in the industry are headed. Smart, forward-thinking ad agencies are removing the titles and tearing down the silos that separated one department from the other (examples include the hottest agencies in the world:  Naked Communications, Mother, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, The Martin Agency).  These companies are not making ads, they are connecting consumers to their clients’ brands and products.

“Art Direction” was an ad course that had been around for as long students studied advertising; it was where students learned to layout an ad. However, consumers are not interested in seeing ads. “Imagination” is the new course where students learn about aesthetics, visualization, and communication that engages consumers.

Why course names that are attributes?  Mark Fenske, one of the designers of the new program, explains it this way: “We want to develop in students the same attributes found in superlative practitioners in the advertising field. By focusing the curriculum toward the development of attributes instead of specific pieces or types of work, students themselves—with direction—will create work not only in the traditional formats long taught in the school, but they will also naturally work in the newer media formats they are familiar with and interested in.”

Another benefit from the interesting course titles is that students will quickly know that these courses are designed to inspire fresh thinking.  This ain’t your grandfather’s ad program.