Why vanilla is for ice cream not resumes!

You like vanilla and that’s totally fine if we are talking about ice cream.

But in a job search or in your resume, vanilla is not the best choice.

You want to differentiate yourself and make yourself different from all the other vanilla resumes.

Why vanilla is for ice cream not resumes!

You need accomplishment-driven Power-packed resumes. Don’t dilute them by making everything generic so it could fit anyone.

If you were to put this same job seeker in their own field, they would be unlikely to dilute their product or service.

For example, say this person was a real estate salesperson. If they were marketing a high-end property, they would be unlikely to say, “You’ll love this property, it has a kitchen, bathroom, and two bedrooms” without expanding on the description.

Isn’t that pretty vanilla?

Most residential properties do have a kitchen, bathroom and at least two bedrooms. No, they might say something like this:

Magnificent two story home located in desirable Rib Mountain! Wooded cul-de-sac with beautiful views of Rib Mountain and finished lower level with daylight windows.

This dream kitchen has hard surface countertops, custom built hickory cabinets and wood flooring. Spacious family room with ceramic tile flooring, wood burning fireplace, vaulted ceilings and ceramic tile flooring. Large windows accent the family room bringing in the outside surroundings and lighting.

Remember vanilla is for ice cream not for resumes

One size fits all or vanilla isn’t the solution for job seekers either. You need to sell your value and use strategic job search solutions to find the elusive new position.

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8 Comments

  1. Mark Harai on April 3, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Ah, well done Julie, you make an excellent point here on how amplifying your strengths and experience can help a potential employer get sense of what you have to offer a company.

    Over the last 25 years, I’ve hired literally thousands of employees and the only ones I even bothered contacting were the ones that stood out from the rest of the applicants and were memorable.

    I just didn’t have the time for vanilla – I desired the flavor explosion type employee and most people who do the hiring do as well.

    Although, that vanilla ice cream cone sure looks delicious. A weakness of mine for sure!

    Have a wonderful Sunday Julie!



    • Julie Walraven on April 3, 2011 at 11:51 am

      Thanks, Mark. I love getting the perspective of a hiring manager. When people are running scared (yesterday’s post) so many of them think they should homogenize the resume. The employer wants to know value and where it happened. If you just say I can do this without proving it, you give them no reason to trust you or even call you.



  2. Mike Meikle on April 4, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Timely post Ms. Walraven. Most folks groan at the thought of tinkering on their resumes. That’s probably why people fall back on the “plain vanilla” corporate speak that fills most resumes.

    People do not want to take a chance when it comes to that document because it is the only promotional vehicle they have when it comes to an employer. So they play it safe. Of course when almost everyone else’s resume looks exactly the same, you aren’t going to stand out and be hired. Especially in the current job market.

    P.S. I can here because Mark Harai had tweeted about your post. Probably via a laptop on some beach with an umbrella drink in his hand….



    • Julie Walraven on April 4, 2011 at 10:39 am

      Hi Mike, Thanks for stopping by. Mark is a very helpful friend who has seen some of my products and understands what I deliver. The problem for me and other professionals in the career industry, is that there are times when the client fails to get what you and Mark both said. They want to match everyone and they don’t want to specify where they learned the skills or accomplished the project. This is where they fall into vanilla and it is so hard to get out once they go that way.



  3. Julie Walraven on April 4, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Jasmine, I am glad you stopped by. Having Mark and Mike agreeing with the post as hiring managers and business people gives you the understanding that this is not just a career professional taking. We (career professionals) continually test our theories with the business field to make sure that job seeker advice is accurate for the marketplace.



  4. Melissa Cooley on April 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Spot-on, Julie!

    A real estate ad is the perfect example for why job seekers need to use more than boring descriptions to show off their talents. If folks just have a “meh” response, it’s not going to help.



  5. JoVE on April 6, 2011 at 8:01 am

    You make a great point. But the example might scare some of those people off. People are very suspicious of over-described real estate listings. Many people distrust real estate agents for just this reason. And then go into the transaction looking for things to prove this guy is lying to them.

    No one wants an employer looking at their resume that way. So they go with vanilla.

    To stick with the ice-cream analogy, I don’t think people need to go for fancy sundae’s with lots of cherries, nuts, whipped cream and drizzled sauce. But they could go for butter pecan or triple chocolate swirl. Or even French Vanilla (made with real vanilla beans and real cream).

    In other words, interesting but believable.



    • Julie Walraven on April 6, 2011 at 8:42 am

      True enough. Around here, I don’t think you see that level of distrust for real estate agents. Maybe it is the smaller city mentality but I can see your point. And the original concept was the butter pecan angle – or chocolate chip cookie dough… So we agree there. Thanks for stopping by.