November 15


Invisible Ink: Your Competitive Advantage?!

By Sara Canaday

November 15, 2010

career, getting the job, leadership, resume, unique selling proposition

Remember playing with invisible ink as a kid?  Every respectable “spy kit” in the toy aisle had it. You could use the invisible ink pen to create a secret message on your paper, and no one else could see what you’d written.  But if someone flashed a special light across the page, your hidden message suddenly appeared for all to see.  Who didn’t enjoy contradicting the belief that “what you see is what you get”?

Even if your favorite spy kit from childhood is long gone, the idea of invisible ink is still relevant in the business world today.  Think about an enormous stack of resumes, each one submitted by worthy candidates for the same dream job.  If the hiring manager compares them, line for line, the points of differentiation are minimal at best.  Impressive degrees from leading universities?  Check.  Highly coveted internships?  Check.  Valuable experience with top-ranked corporations?  Check.  In many ways, the resumes are virtually interchangeable. But smart managers know a secret:  the most important things you have to offer don’t show up on your resume.  They are invisible.   

Corporate leaders who want to hire the very best person for the job look beyond the degrees and certifications for someone who can connect, communicate, and cooperate with others.  They instinctively know that the most successful professionals are interpersonally savvy.  By illuminating these unwritten qualities, the real difference between seemingly comparable candidates becomes distinctly clear.  And oddly enough, the invisible assets consistently outweigh the visible ones.

If you’re continuously competing with people who all share impressive credentials, launching yourself into a frenzy of resume-augmenting activities is not the answer for getting ahead.  Instead, it’s time to figuratively break out the invisible ink pen and beef up your resume with the enhanced emotional intelligence that will really set you apart.  It’s not so much about what you do, but how you do it.  Your “unique selling proposition” is based on invisible skills that won’t show up in black and white on your resume, but they will undoubtedly give you a tangible edge for the great job, the next promotion or the perfect career opportunity.

So how’s the “invisible ink” on your resume?  Do you possess the vital-yet-unwritten skills that can help you stand out from your competition?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

  • You hit the nail on the head. People who realize the importance of connecting, communicating on an emotional level, and cooperating with others to enhance their greatness IMHO have a distinct edge. Yesterday I rented a car from a young man with the company for less than a week. His boss was curt, had a bit of an unpleasant attitude, and when the young man walked outside to show me a few cars, I whispered to him that as a new person, he could try the odd phrase in dealing with a customer, “We’re going to find you a great car; we want you to be really happy with your choice.” A simple sentence, doesn’t cost a dime, and it creates a totally different energy than the crummy comments his boss made. I told him to observe his boss so he can learn what doesn’t create great customer connection. IMHO it’s how you leave ’em feeling, including submitting a resume. As Fripp says, people forgive a lot if they think you care. Hmmm, did I go off topic?

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