How Toilet Paper has Everything to do With Powerful Résumés
About the Author

Michelle Aikman is a military spouse and career management expert.

You are almost through the grocery store when you remember you’re running out of toilet paper. As you turn the cart down the paper goods aisle, you notice half of the aisle is toilet paper. Why in the world are so many options available? It’s just toilet paper after all, right? Believe it or not, many factors influence our purchasing decisions, even for toilet paper. Let’s focus on three common shoppers:  

Shopper 1 : Strictly looks at price without a moment of consideration to the differences. 

Shopper 2 : Looks at the basic differences, then makes a selection based on price.

Shopper 3 : Looks for the highest quality and grabs it without even looking at the price tag.  

Which shopper are you when you buy toilet paper?   

Which shopper are you when you buy your favorite indulgence like coffee or camping equipment?   

All three of these purchasing approaches are driven by different shopper motivators and interests. However, shoppers also can be influenced by the right marketing approach. Let’s look at three different marketing approaches:  

Marketing Approach 1: If the toilet paper packs were generic in design and only included the price, shoppers two and three would not have enough information to tell the difference based on their preferences, so they are likely to pick any of them. Price is a major factor for many shoppers, but many shoppers also care about other factors as well.

Marketing Approach 1

Marketing Approach 2: If the lowest priced pack (which also is the lowest quality) had a really attractive package but still lacked any information other than price, shoppers two and three might be attracted to the lower quality option simply because it appears to be higher quality.

Marketing Approach 2

Marketing Approach 3: If the packs included information that conveyed their comparative quality, then even with attractive packaging on the less expensive option, shoppers who value quality might be swayed to purchase the more expensive options.   

Take a closer look at the most expensive option in this last example … if you want super soft toilet paper but still are price conscious, would you be more likely to purchase the more expensive option if it tells you it’s not only the softest but it’s actually 10 times softer? Quantifying information helps communicate irrefutable value!

Marketing Approach 3

For each of the three marketing approaches, shopper one (the price-focused shopper) might not be easily influenced because he doesn’t value quality, but the other two shoppers might drastically change their purchasing decisions, so it’s worth the effort if the goal is to get the shoppers to purchase the higher quality, higher priced item.  

Enough with the Toilet Paper Already! Let’s Get to the Résumé Part! 

Now it’s time to connect the dots and review!  Let’s identify the players and make a smooth transition to résumés …  

Shoppers   =   Recruiters and hiring managers  

Toilet paper aisle   =   Pool of job candidates  

Toilet paper   =   Your résumé  

Marketers   =   You  

The hiring manager at your dream company [the shopper] is wrapping up hiring decisions for the year. Realizing they have one more opening that needs to be filled, they pull up their job applicant database and start reviewing résumés. [The shopper needs toilet paper so goes down the toilet paper aisle to look at the options.]  

The people on the hiring team all have different interests and preferences, so it’s important for you to do your research before you submit your résumé and tailor it accordingly. If you don’t know who will be reviewing your résumé, then researching the company and culture is the next best approach. [Marketers can tailor their approach if they understand shoppers’ motivators, interests, and preferences.]  

You can take a variety of approaches when you craft your résumé, but let’s look at just three:  

Approach 1 : If you do the bare minimum, your résumé probably will look a lot like everyone else’s so the hiring team might have a difficult time finding any significant information beyond basic skill sets, employment durations, and frequency of employment changes. For this reason, the hiring team might make choices based on their predetermined interests and biases. 

Approach 1 

Approach 2 : Enhancing the visual appeal of your résumé can make a difference, especially if you suspect your résumé will not stand out in terms of content quality. When you choose your design approach, be sure to consider industry standards and preferences in addition to electronic database compatibility. 

Approach 2

Approach 3 : When you enhance the content in your résumé to make your qualifications stand out in comparison to other candidates, the hiring team will have additional information to consider when making their decisions. 

Approach 3

For example, instead of only telling readers what you did as a maintenance and reliability director ...  

  • Demonstrated project potential by increasing overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) during pilot program.
  • Set foundation to capture significant annual savings. 

… tell them how well you did and quantify your accomplishments…  

  • Despite operational resistance due to immediate performance interests, justified project investment and executed validating pilot program.
  • Demonstrated project potential by increasing overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) 17 percent during six-month pilot program.
  • Set foundation to capture $70 million in annual savings within five years.  

Spend the time necessary to enhance the visual appeal, craft high quality résumé content that conveys the value you deliver, and quantify your accomplishments and delivered value to maximize your chances of influencing the hiring team in your favor. Enhancing the content in your résumé will entice the hiring team the same way most of America is drawn to toilet paper that is ten times softer than the other brands — quality matters.  

Whenever you go shopping, think about this analogy. Each time, take it a step further and explore what influences your purchasing decisions. Pinpoint how product marketers present compelling information, then tie it back to how you can improve the way you present information in your résumé. You might just find that understanding how you make your toilet paper purchasing decisions has everything to do with you winning over the hiring team at your dream company.

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