Re-packaging Our Experiences: A Marketing Guide

“Presentation is everything,” I read once in some how-to magazine blurb. “It can make the difference between a sale and no sale at all.” Snorting at tv shows that profile food presentation experts or stagers for open houses, I used to scoff at this premise, holding firm to my belief that it’s the underlying quality of the product that will convince someone to invest, but I’m reversing course fast on this black and white assessment. As part of my painfully prolonged job hunt, I’ve presented my not inconsiderable expertise in a variety of formats—chronological, skill set groupings, you name it, I’ve tried it. I’ve run the drafts past a variety of people and gotten wildly varying responses and diametrically opposite pieces of advice. Much to my surprise, one person told me that my font was “too old.” Apparently Times New Roman is out. Who knew? And what could that possibly mean? Is it the 21st century version of quill and ink? Clearly, I need to pick up the pace.

 

Despite the frustrations engendered from this drawn out quest of mine, it’s actually been a fascinating intellectual exercise to discover how differently my work experience is received depending on how I present it. Alas, I repeatedly forget that my CV isn’t about me, it’s about my audience. This may be obvious to you, but I keep getting tripped up by the assumption that what I have achieved is of primary interest to potential employers. It isn’t. In certain respects, my past is well-nigh irrelevant and what attracts (and retains) their interest is who I am going forward and what I can deliver. This particular public service announcement also applies to Re-booting in general and how each of us thinks about ourselves and our future—far beyond anything to do with our career prospects.

 

My point is this: too often, we fall sway to the presumption that our history—what has happened to us in the past—is the pivot point for how or if others will agree to build relationships with us, but it’s not. While a person’s previous behavior may “fill in” some missing pieces of their canvas, the way most of us assess whether we want to have anything to do with Person A or B is how they will behave going forward. What they did in the past cannot be reversed and can provide useful clues to future behavior, but my willingness to interact with them depends mostly on how this is presented, and far less on what it is. Does what I’m saying make any sense?

 

Theological types might point to stories about the Prodigal Son or King David as examples of individuals who remade their lives, but I prefer to use Heritage Crockery as a more relatable and far less intimidating analogy. What is Heritage Crockery you ask? (I didn’t know either.) Heritage Crockery is any old plate re-branded. If you told me you wanted to give me some ugly, used plates, I’d decline, but if you offer me the opportunity to access some Heritage Crockery, well, that’s another story entirely! Let me take a second look. In Los Angeles, used cars are sold as “previously enjoyed.” The same principal applies for the original inspiration of this blog’s name. Back in the day when Times New Roman was “in,” some lowly-yet-ambitious schmo got stuck with decorating a room the size of a water heater and, in desperation, dreamed up this ridiculous, over promising, under delivering room title Dignitary’s Retreatbut, look at their legacy now! So much about our life experience depends on packaging, about how we choose to think about it.

 

How do you think about your life experiences? Have you ever tried to view the same events from a different angle? How could you re-brand your understanding of your life in a more positive manner? Are you willing to try?

 

Sometimes, like with my CV, we don’t even realize we need to re-boot, re-brand, or re-package. It doesn’t occur to us that another approach may be more successful. Changing from what we know can be an uncomfortable thing to do, so resistance is natural. I mean, I’ve got fabulous experience that has been presented in a couple of different ways, but it simply hasn’t been effective—who knows why? Not me, that’s for sure. But refusing to alter my format (and font) serves no useful purpose. So, I try again. Perhaps now is the time to dig into those old back cupboards and harvest your own set of Heritage Crockery…Think about it and get back to me.

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