Don’t End Up On the Bottom of the Resume Pile.

Oct 30, 2023

When I was 18, I had gotten into my dream college. Champlain College, in Burlington Vermont. I claimed marketing as my major and loved everything about the school, the town and leaving Maine behind but not New England. The cost of school was high and the more I thought about this choice and knowing money doesn’t grow on trees, I chose to unenroll after one semester to work towards getting instate and reenrolling at UVM – their state school.

Now, how does branding enter this picture? Well, Burlington, Vermont is a college town much like Missoula for those who are familiar. It’s got the trendy “it” places to waitress, and naturally, I wanted to work at a spot where it was always busy and making rent wasn’t a stress. As you can imagine, the competition was fierce since this wasn’t a novel idea in a college town. Every barista and waitress had their Masters so how was 18-year-old Bre going to stand out?

My first shot at it didn’t go so well. I walked around in the freezing cold with basic resumes in hand. I had gone into just about every restaurant and even retail spot on Church Street but got nothing back – no calls, no follow-ups, just silence.

That’s when I started thinking about how resumes worked in the restaurant industry. I’d been in the industry since 15, and graduated high school early to work full-time and save for college. So, you bet I knew the routine – you ask for the manager, they’re typically not there, you hand in your resume over to the hostess, and it ends up in a towering stack on the manager’s desk, quickly to become lost in a sea of others.

Over time, your little resume sinks deeper, and when they need someone, they pluck the one on top, leaving you in the dust. So, how do you keep yours on top? You make it different, make it feel different, you choose a unique size, and use distinctive paper.

This thought came flooding in and I was ready to take my shot. Dropping off resumes was intimidating enough, but now I was going to do it differently and have to hand these off to 20 “cool hostesses” while hoping for the best.

I headed to the craft store, got scrapbook paper, cardstock, glue, and scissors. My aim was to make them compact, so they’d always be on top, a tactic I hoped would work. I typed up my credentials, printed them, and cut them out. Then, I crafted the cardstock into 5×5 squares, gluing colorful scrapbook paper on top. Each resume had a unique pattern to keep things interesting. I cut out my information and glued it over the scrapbook paper, leaving a neat border.

I ended up making about 20 of these because time was running out, and I wasn’t about to twiddle my thumbs in Maine while my friends enjoyed college.

Within a day, I landed a job as a waitress at one of the “it” restaurants in town – farm-to-fork Mexican cuisine and the best margaritas around, not that I ever got to try one. *wink*

I had a blast working there and made some incredible friends.

What did I learn from this experience? Your presentation matters, both in person and on paper. This was the first clue that I wanted to continue creating and find ways for people to stand out. Without branding, your business is just another sheet of basic paper buried in that pile of resumes. You’ll get lost in the shuffle unless you look different, consistently stay on top, and showcase your undeniable value because you dared to stand out.

alpine lupine