The economy is on everyone’s mind. Who is getting hired and fired? Who’s finding work? Who isn’t? The current unemployment rate in the United States is 7.8%, but that number doesn’t reflect one of the primary problems in our economy today: many people aren’t advancing or can’t find full-time work in their desired field.
For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported “the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons rose from 8.0 million in August to 8.6 million in September.” Individuals in the study reported working part time because, “their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.”
This is the situation many of my friends and former colleagues find themselves in today. So I’ve been thinking a lot about how they can get the upper hand when looking for a job. If you are in a similar situation, I think I have the answer: Are you leveraging your geek status as an asset to potential employers?
Think of it this way: being a geek comes with certain general character traits, which can be positioned to your advantage when looking for a job. For example, being a geek goes hand in hand with being knowledgeable and people often rely on other geeks as a resource for information. Every office needs a go-to person and very often, the go-to problem solver is the geek sitting in the cubicle to your left.
So here are two big questions: does your resume reflect your geek cred? And are you promoting your geekiness in your cover letters and interviews?
I’ve hired a handful of people in my life and in many cases, getting in the door has a lot to do with who you know. But that’s as far as it will get you. Sure, you’ll get an interview, but so will a lot of other people. Your goal should be to try and be one of the “other people” who showed that they had something extra to offer.
That means amping up your resume. No more boilerplate word doc for you. For example, create a section on your resume that says: “Geek Skills” and include things like:
1. Hashtags you got trending
2. Web skills, like SEO ninja-ism and HTML mastery
3. Deep knowledge of fictional languages
4. Videos you created that went viral
Hiring people is awkward, but if you can start a conversation with someone by discussing the time you got #rowlingisourqueen trending with some of your friends – not only will you instantly loosen up and bring your best self to the table, but the interviewer will have a place to start. On top of that: you will look like an internet warrior.
I truly believe that a resume and cover letter is more than a list of qualifications. It should tell a potential employer a one-page story about who you are and why you are qualified for a job. I hate to say it, but you have to give people a reason to care about you and call you.
That means your cover letter should get an injection of geek talk too. In your cover letter, take the time to tell a unique story about yourself, because let’s be honest: every great cover letter should include just a little bit of bragging. Here are some things to include in your cover letter:
1. The name of the blog you started and how many readers it has
2. The list of famous people and organizations that have retweeted you
3. Any current world records you hold
Above all, nerds aren’t boring. We always have something we’re excited about, reading or watching. Usually we have even carved out some tiny corner of the world in which we are the experts. People who have this tendency add a ton to your average cubicle environment.
So if you’re looking for a job, go tell your nerd story. Make sure your geek cred shines through on your resume and cover letter. Get hired and kick ass.
Elizabeth Giorgi is a writer and filmmaker from Minneapolis. She blogs about mixing life as a nerd with her career at beinggeekchic.com. In 2010, she was nominated for a Webby and won an Emmy for Science of Watchmen. Follow her on Twitter: @lizgiorgi
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