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The Résumé Trick That Gets You Noticed

We all want to stand out in a crowded job market, and it’s no secret that tailoring a résumé that sets us apart is crucial to boosting our chances of catching a potential employer’s eye.

While many hiring experts will tell us that we need to be scientific about certain fonts—and others will tell us that we need to highlight achievements in a specific way—we’d like to emphasize the importance of something equally, if not more, powerful: communicating our personal WHYs clearly at the top of our résumés and tying those WHY’s to the organization’s larger brand purpose.

Now, if you know anything about our Chief Optimist, Simon Sinek, you’re probably familiar with his concept of The Golden Circle. According to Simon, applying the Golden Circle to our résumés is an incredibly powerful tool.

When we apply this strategy to our résumés, we’re not just presenting our qualifications; we’re also showcasing our unique contributions and cultural fit—factors increasingly important in the hiring process. 

Here’s how to do it.

Step One: Identify Your WHY Statement:

Reflect on what drives you. What are the core values and passions that motivate you? This might relate to personal growth, a commitment to innovation, or a desire to contribute to societal change. (For more help on discovering your WHY, see here and here.)

Our WHY statements are the articulation of who we are at our natural best. It’s what we’re doing when we’re the most inspired, most passionate, and most fulfilled. 

For example, Simon’s WHY is “to inspire people to do the things that inspire them, so that together we can change the world for the better.” 

Other examples of WHY statements could be:

  • “To empower those who are next so that together we can give the world new potential.”
  • “To curate joy, so that we can all inhabit happiness.”
  • “To connect authenticity with communication, so that together we can create meaningful relationships.”

Step Two: Research the Company’s Brand Purpose:

We need to understand the mission, vision, and values of the companies we’re applying to. This information is usually found on their website, whether it be in their mission statement or recent press releases.

Now, our personal WHYs and the company’s WHY needn’t be a one-to-one match. But hopefully, we can find something about the company’s purpose that resonates with us. If not, it could be a red flag that the company isn’t the right fit. (After all, a survey by SelectOne found that 72% of workers consider corporate culture a key factor in their decision to stay with a company, and 32% of those who left a job within the first 90 days cited a mismatch in company culture as the reason for their departure.)

Step Three: Align Your WHY with the Company’s Brand Purpose:

Let’s say we’re applying for a role at Adidas. Their brand purpose statement is clear: “Through sport, we have the power to change lives. We will always strive to expand the limits of human possibilities.”

At the top of our résumé, we should explain in one sentence how our WHY is complementary to the company’s goals. As an example, if Simon were applying for a role at Adidas, he could say something like this:

Driven by a passion to inspire, I believe in harnessing the power of sport to elevate human potential and create meaningful change in the world.”

Instantly, the Adidas hiring manager will know that Simon might be a good cultural fit.

Remember: Résumés reflecting our values are more likely to catch an employer’s attention, especially when we’re applying to highly competitive roles. 

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A spark is something quite small and, by itself, not very powerful. But a spark has the ability to ignite. An idea is like a spark; alone it is just a set of words, but it too can ignite. A great idea can inspire others to dream bigger. Let us all work together to ignite something greater than ourselves.

Let us all be a Spark of Optimism.