What does the Starbucks brand mean to you? Beyond the obvious one-word answer: coffee. And what does Starbucks have to do with your resume?
Suzanne Taylor of Inside Intuit fame asked me to critique the Starbucks experience the other day, and as someone who drinks coffee only occasionally, I decided I had to go to Starbucks and check it out. I felt like a mystery shopper as I slinked into my local Starbucks.
I drank in the ambience, the service, and the coffee. My impression of the Starbucks brand: it’s modern, bold, clear, awake, stylish, full of estrogen, familiar. And the branding was everywhere: on the napkins, cups, signage, artwork, coffee mugs. Everywhere. Which says this to me: Starbucks wants to be everywhere, and wants to be part of your everyday.
In addition to the coffee experience, I observed the lighting, decor, artwork, signage, complementary products, customer service, internet access, support for the disabled, and cleanliness. But I won’t go into those details, because that’s not the point. Although I will say that I do like Starbucks coffee, and prefer a Starbucks decaf mocha to Peets anyday, even though my coffee afficiniado friends disagree: Andy swears by Peets, and Hal lives for Dunkies.
So what is the point? What does the Starbucks brand have to do with you and your resume?
As I sipped my decaf mocha and listened to the blues—John Lee Hooker with “Boom Boom”—it hit me: my Starbucks thought exercise was invalid. It’s rare that a customer experiences a brand (or product) with the open mind that I did.
The open mind experience generally happens when the brand is new, only the first time, and only when friends and media haven’t gotten to you first with their opinions.
Preconceived notions have a huge influence on how you experience a brand or product. And with Starbucks, most people have preconceived notions.
And that brings me to you, and your resume. If you show your resume to someone that worked closely with you in the past, they already have an image of who you are and what you can do. Their perception of your resume is based more on what they already know about you and less on the words in the resume.
So feedback from someone who has worked closely with you is useful, but only to a point. They can’t see your resume through a stranger’s eyes. Their perception of your brand is already quite set.
If you’re looking for a job, be sure to get feedback on your resume from people who don’t know you, who haven’t worked with you, who can’t connect the dots based on their past experience with you.
As much as possible, they should be in the same industry, in the same job function, and at the same level as the people who will be considering your resume for opportunities. Oh, and you should only give them 20 seconds to look at your resume—because that’s all a prospective hiring manager is going to give your resume before putting it in the “Pursue” or “Discard” pile.