A famous legend tells the story of six blind men who approach an elephant for the first time.
- The first man felt the elephant’s side and decided it was like a wall.
- The second felt its tusks and decided it was like a spear.
- The third felt its trunk and decided it was like a snake.
- The fourth felt its leg and decided it was like a tree.
- The fifth felt its ear and decided it was like a fan.
- The sixth felt its tail and decided it was like a rope.
The question is, “Which man was right?”
If you answered, “All of them,” you’re right. By each of them “looking” at a different part of the elephant, each of them described the pachyderm from a unique vantage point.
Well, what does this story have to do with finding a job? In a similar way, when people look at your life, each of them may have a somewhat different perspective when asked to describe you to others.
Your former colleagues at work might describe you as goal-driven, serious about work and willing to help others with their assignments. One of your family members may describe you as the life of the party, always ready for a good laugh and family-oriented. A fellow church member may say you are a strong believer, someone to go to with a personal problem and someone who makes killer chocolate cake for potlucks. Someone living down the street may say you are a person who always waves a cheery good morning when you pass by, lends out tools to a neighbor, and can always be counted on to pitch in when someone needs help with a chore.
So, which of these people is right in describing the real you? Which description of you as an “elephant” is right? Again, if you answered, “All of them,” you would be right.
So, getting back to your job search, with so many different perspectives on the “real you,” how should you portray yourself to prospective employers? Which elephant should you draw to depict yourself in a resume, cover letter or during an interview?
Some job seekers make the mistake of portraying themselves as one-dimensional, when in fact they are multi faceted.
The psalmist David said, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm139:14 NKJV)
You are indeed a work of God created by a marvelous workman to do marvelous works. As such, it’s unlikely that just one painting or snapshot of you created at a given moment in time fully describes the real you.
Given this reality, don’t hesitate to describe yourself to prospective employers using glimpses of the full person you really are. The bulk of your resume may describe your career highlights and experience from strictly a job and career perspective. However, don’t be afraid to add some other parts of the elephant within your resume, for example, volunteer activities, social or service organization roles, personal pursuits.
In addition, consider the unique aspects of an organization or position you are applying for and insert additional information in a cover letter to help paint a picture of you that lets the recipient know you might be a good fit for a particular job. For instance, if you are applying for a position that requires leadership skills, you might add in the cover letter, “In addition to the accomplishments contained within my attached resume, I also have held leadership positions in my local church and within several social service organizations.”
Although you probably won’t describe yourself to others as a wall, a spear, a snake, a tree, fan or rope, you can still use the analogy of the first encounter of the blind men with the elephant to remind you that there is much more to you than what some people see at first glance.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that is something marvelous.
By Keith Lundquist
For more blogs and related resources on building your faith during a job search, go to www.FaithBetweenJobs.com