In the West we tend to devalue process in favor of results, while in the East, process is still given its due. Think of the beauty, thought and care brought to a Japanese tea ceremony. The ceremony itself can last up to four hours, while the actual drinking of tea is only a small portion of the event, which happens near the end of the ceremony. Every part of the day, from beginning to end, has meaning and is included on purpose.
Too often in our culture the finished product is the thing that receives all the praise. It’s easy to overlook all the work that is required beforehand: the idea, the planning, and the set up. In reality, a good deal more effort is usually put forth in the behind the scenes work than in the actual end product.
When it comes to career development and the job search we often spend hours researching and choosing the right fonts for our resumes, picking the perfect picture for our LinkedIn profiles or fussing over formats. We pay a lot of attention to that finished product.
Do things like pictures and formats matter? Of course they do; the Japanese tea ceremony wouldn’t be much of a ceremony if they never got to drink the tea. But if you haven’t done the underlying work to create a captivating message, all the presentation tweaking in the world won’t help to make the right impression to move your career forward.
So spend just as much, if not more, time honing your message. Be purposeful as you create your 10 second elevator pitch. Boil it down from there to a unique branding statement. Know who you are professionally and what you can offer. What problems can you can solve for a potential employer? Figure that out and write it down.
Once you have the background work done, it will be time to work on the finished product of your resume, profile and letters. Then… go enjoy a nice cup of tea.