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Your Golden Ticket: What Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Teaches Us About Job Hunting

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How many chocolate bars are you willing to eat through for the winning ticket?

You’re tired, it’s past midnight, and you’ve exhausted yourself writing cover letters that start with ‘To Whom It May Concern.’ You find yourself actually wondering who your cover letter and resume will concern, and specifically who the hell is on the receiving end directing your future?

And more than once, you found yourself wishing for a Golden Ticket that would guaranteed entry into your dream job. Like, if Google told everyone that it was going to release 500,000 Chromebooks and 5 of them were gold, and whoever happened to purchase the golden Chromebooks was guaranteed an insider tour of the Googleplex, with the underlying promise of a mid-level, full-time job waiting at the end for one lucky participant. Your fantasy continues with you opening that box, and a glimmer of gold peeks out of the corner, and you can almost just feel your heart stop. What next? Do you stop there? No, you quickly come up with a strategy on how to secure that position when you go in for the Golden Chromebook Insider Tour, making sure that the Google people will know how awesome you’ll be once you’re one of them.

And trust me, at this point, you will not find yourself hoping to act like passive, soft-spoken little Charlie Bucket.

The other children all have what Charlie didn’t seem possess any of, which is grit. Oh sure, Charlie’s from a sweet poor family who teaches him politeness and love and all that, but is that really enough to run an entire chocolate factory rampant with little orange people from a strange land and competitors looming over every corner (I mean, really)?

AUGUSTUS GLOOP

imgresShow your passion. Augustus really loves chocolate. A lot. When writing your cover letter or responding to the job application/email, be bold, loudly proclaim your love for the company and its mission. Draft out the cover letter with an honest and genuine voice, instead of the usual dry, technical tone of all those subpar generic cover letters. This isn’t the time to use a template, or to Google an example of ‘great cover letters,’ this is the time for you to let your true passion shine through. Let them know how much you love chocolate by going for that chocolate river! At the very least, you’ll catch their eye and that’s the first step.

VERUCA SALT

imagesKnow what you want. Don’t act like a jerk, but take a tip from Veruca and know what you want and how to obtain it. If it’s the senior analyst job that you eventually want to obtain, openly present your plan of action in your cover, and what professional development steps you’re planning to take to get there. And don’t just say that, do it! Go out and take classes, talk to professionals, read books, etc. Know what your ‘trained nut cracking squirrel’ or ‘golden egg goose’ is and go Veruca Salt on it.

VIOLET BEAUREGARDE

imgres-1Be daring. Violet loves gum, but she’s also the only child who dared to try the new type of gum which serves as a three-course meal. The reason being she loves chewing gum. Let your sense of courage and adventure show through your job inquiry letter or cover letter. Don’t be timid or passive; put on an active voice and let them know that your career change or resignation from your last job was an act of bravery because life is just too damn short to not chew that piece of beta tested gum.

MIKE TEAVEE

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Be analytical. Mike didn’t get his golden ticket by chance, and he wasn’t afraid to question the odd processes in the Wonka factory once he was in. Show what you know in a way that frames itself as constructive (don’t be a jerk like Mikey here), but also don’t be afraid to sound collected and intelligent. You don’t always have to be eager and earnest in the face of job applications or even job interviews, if you have any ideas on how to make a process or a product better, say so (but be respective about it). If some things don’t make sense to you, speak up. Be smart and analytical, and don’t trust claims about Chocolate Television.

Which child’s method/personality applies most to you?

Let me know in the comments below.

(This is also posted on sproutresumes.com, a resume editing and re-design company that I’ve co-founded. For any resume services, please feel free to leave me a comment in the section below or email/tweet me).

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How to Finally See the Big Picture

Last night while sitting around and pondering the misfortune of my weight gain yet again (this happens at least twice a year during a good year), I forced myself to look at the big picture. Over the past year or so, my weight directly correlated with my own happiness/unhappiness.

I had struck gold.

Well, I mean, within my own life anyway. I constantly fret over my daily exercise schedule and calorie intake, and my own jean size(s), that it never occurred to me that my actual internal self has been denied a voice.  Following a handful of Instagram fitness accounts and writing down every single crumb you eat is not going to be what will help you hear that voice, all you have to do is listen. 

Listen. And be honest with yourself. It’s not going to be easy, not at all. 

Are you gaining weight because you’re filling your time with foods that taste good and fulfill a temporary happiness (I know I was)? Are you scared to go the gym because you don’t want other gym goers to see you struggle? Do you think you’re not good enough to have the future you’ve always wanted? Have you contemplated suicide because that’s the easy way out? Are you struggling to say ‘no’ to your boss because you’re intimated and are afraid you’ll lose your job? Do you not want to cut off your long, heavy, shapeless hair because you’re scared of losing the one thing that you identify as, the one thing you can control? 

Can you answer yourself? Yes? Great. Now say it out loud. When you’re not afraid to actually hear yourself telling you that truth, that’s when the big picture will reveal itself. There’s a sense of strength and control knowing that you don’t have to lie to yourself anymore. 

Here’s mine: My weight has consistently yo-yo’d 15 to 25 pounds in the past two years because I ate my own unhappiness. When I was happy, I wanted my body to reflect that; but when I was unhappy, I hid from the world, on my couch, under a fleece blanket.