Season 5 of MasterChef just kicked off.
If you're searching for a new job, tune in for tips on how to stand out in a talented and highly competitive crowd!
In the premiere episode's first challenge, judges Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich served up a stellar tip for job seekers. Here's the set-up...
30 MasterChef contenders were instructed to turn over their chopping boards. When they did, they found themselves facing their own reflections, as a mirror had been inlaid into the back of each board.
Their reactions ran from, "Damn, I look good!"
To, "What exactly does this mean?"
And, "I have no idea what's in store."
Chef Ramsay was quick to clarify.
Employing his signature staccato delivery, he explained...
"To win an apron - we need you - to put yourself - on a plate. - This is your chance - to create - a dish - that speaks to us - about you. Think about - your life story - and put it - on that plate. - Show us - your signature dish."
Do your resume and cover letter put, "YOU on a plate," for recruiters?
Do they paint a clear word picture of who you are - and why you are the best candidate?
MasterChef contestants struggled to explain how their signature dishes, "put them on a plate."
The first competitor said...
"My signature dish is Coriander Crusted Shrimp because I am from Louisiana.
This is me on a plate, with a little bit of Latina."
This description failed to provide any useful insight into who this home cook is, or what the judges could expect from her.
A second contestant did marginally better, when he said...
"I'm gonna make a venison chimichurri. I'm a hunter. I cook venison all the time.
This is homage to me and where I grew up, on a plate."
Clearly, finding the words that put, "You on a plate," is a LOT harder than preparing a signature dish.
This challenge accurately demonstrates how people struggle to find the words that effectively communicate
what makes them stand out from their rivals.
Judge Joe Bastianich's additional instructions offer useful insights on how to overcome this problem.
"The Competition begins, not at the ranges, but in the pantry."
To be successful, he told the home cooks to begin by deciding which ingredients to use,
then to stay disciplined and focused as they prepared their dishes.
Job seekers can learn from this!
When you lose focus and direction, you show up like a refrigerator casserole. You know, the dish you make when
you're using up all of the unrelated items in your fridge that are rapidly approaching - or slightly past - their, "best
before dates." If you're lucky, you create a meal that's unremarkable. If not, you find yourself digging into a nasty
dish that even the family dog rejects!
If your self marketing materials are serving you up this way to recruiters, they won't choose you.
And if they remember you at all, it will be as someone to avoid.
Yes, you REALLY REALLY want the job. (Or the apron.)
But all the wanting in the world simply isn't enough!
To stand out, in a good way, you must translate "who you are" into "the criteria recruiters are seeking."
The exchange between Chef Ramsay and Courtney, the first contestant to be awarded an apron,
demonstrates this translation.
Here's how she described her signature dish.
"As a third generation Italian, I wanted to take something that was from home and make it mine."
Yes, Courtney shared her rivals' personal brand expression challenges.
And here's how Chef Ramsay described her signature dish.
"This is definitely - you on a plate.
Authentic - brave - tenacious - and incredibly delicious."
If we agree that Ramsay's view reflects those of the hiring managers receiving your self marketing materials,
there's clearly a huge gap between how you present yourself and how they interpret your self presentation.
Don't give them vague statements. "Put yourself on a page," by choosing words (ingredients) that are clear,
appealing and authentic. Prepare them skillfully.
Hiring managers receiving such appetizing information will line up to place their orders!
Visit authentic personal branding to find out how YOU can move yourself to the top of the candidate list.