December 23, 2011
Picture it: Drawing can help job search
Special to NWjobs
Want to stand out in your job interviews? Use pictures.
That’s the advice of Dan Roam, best-selling author of “The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures.”
Roam’s latest book, “Blah Blah Blah: What to Do When Words Don’t Work,” takes his ideas on visual thinking one step further, arguing that we all talk too much without really saying anything.
Like a politician in a presidential debate, Roam argues, we get into professional situations -- a job interview, a sales presentation -- and drone on and on without paying attention to whether the sentences coming out of our mouth are clear and will have any lasting impact.
“We have come to believe that our ability to talk is our ability to be intelligent, that someone who’s a good speaker is smart,” Roam said in a recent phone interview. “And that’s wrong. Because it doesn’t account for the amazing capacity of our visual mind. That’s what we need to rekindle.”
For example, if you really want to wow a potential employer, Roam suggests you start drawing. Here’s what he recommends:
Draw a picture of your professional strengths. Before you fire off one more resume, grab a pen and paper and draw a stick figure of yourself and the characteristics that make you unique. If, for example, you excel at coming up with valuable ideas under pressure, you could draw yourself, a team of stick-figure colleagues leaning over you, and a bunch of shining light bulbs over your head.
“The act of drawing it is going to lock it into your mind clearly,” Roam says. “More importantly, the act of having to draw it is going to make you search through your memory bank to figure out what about you is unique.” And that can only help when it comes to polishing your resume.
Add a visual element to your resume. If you’re able to send your resume as an attachment (as opposed to a mere text submission), Roam strongly recommends adding a simple diagram. It could be a Venn diagram or simple chart of your top two to three unique talents and strengths. Or it could be a simple timeline of your career growth -- for example, Roam explains, “four arrows that show, ‘I started as a graphic designer, then I became an interface designer, then I became a consultant, and now I’m becoming an engineer.’”
“It’s going to differentiate your resume and make those critical parts of you more clear,” Roam says. “If nothing else, you’re going to be remembered.”
Draw a picture during the interview. Rather than merely following the interviewer’s lead, Roam advises “hijacking the interview in a gentle way” with a picture.
In advance, work up a simple diagram you can draw during the interview, in front of the interviewer, on their desk or conference table, when asked what you have to offer the company. Again, a simple illustration of your top two to three talents and strengths will do the trick. Make sure you practice until your diagram (and your recall of it) is picture perfect.
“You want to create a picture that you can plant in the mind’s eye of the interviewer that differentiates you from every other candidate,” Roam says. “That picture says, ‘This is me over here and here’s what I know how to do.’ And then on the other side of the paper you can draw a picture that says, ‘My understanding of the job is this and here’s what I think you need and here’s how I would overlap with that.’”
That’s going to show how clear you are and that you’ve already thought through where you could fit into the company,” Roam continues. “For the interviewer, it’s going to be completely unforgettable.”
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