Do you ever wonder how some people get started in their careers? I love origin stories and Errol Gerson has a great one. Gerson, who, at almost 50 years and counting is the longest-running professor at ArtCenter College of Design, tells how he got his first job in the book, Pocket Full of Do.
It was 1971 and Gerson had just graduated from USC with an MBA. He eagerly sent out dozens of resumes. Crickets. Not a single answer. He asked the Dean to show him typical resumes and was surprised by what he saw. A stack of standard letterhead at 8.5 by 11 inches. Each resume had the same format and the same typeface, the always popular Times New Roman.
Gerson went to his local paper store and asked them to cut him custom-sized sheets at 8.5 by 11-1/8 inches.”You know this won’t fit in a standard envelope, right?” The printer asked. Yep, he knew. He then went to the print shop and set his resume in Verdana type. He went one step further and asked the printer to highlight the strip of extra 1/8-inch in red. A few days later he gets a call. It was one of his prospective employers, intrigued. “HR gave me 60 resumes and one of them stuck out by 1/8 of an inch.” Later that week Gerson was on a plane to New York for three interviews.
The moral of the story … don’t be afraid to find the thing that makes you stand out. It doesn’t need to be a huge gesture. All you need is something unique. It might be as small as 1/8 of an inch.