Your Application Should Include a Conversation Starter

When I was eighteen years old, I worked on an oyster farm in Barnstable. Today, three years later, I still include that job on my résumé because I know it’ll start an interesting conversation with potential employers.

I’ve been in interviews at law firms, tech companies, media startups, and literally every single time the person interviewing me has brought up the oyster farm.

It’s something cool and irregular that they’re not used to seeing so they feel compelled to ask about it. And I’m more than happy to discuss it!

Similarly, the person interviewing you should want to know more about you. Find your “oyster farm” experience — something that you know will start a conversation — and include it on your application. An interesting conversation starter immediately makes the interview more enjoyable by turning it into a discussion rather than an interrogation.

Just for context, I’m a writer. So, there’s really no practical reason for me to include my brief exploration into the shellfish industry on a résumé. The only jobs I’ve had since then have been writing jobs. Yet, I still include the oyster farm experience purely because I know it’ll spark a fun dialogue.

I know people with formal corporate jobs who still include their bartending experience on résumés purely because it elicits a friendly response in interviews. Employers like to see that you’re a well-rounded person with a diverse array of skills.

We’ve spoken before about the importance of standing out and being memorable when applying for jobs. Lots of applicants are going to be qualified, but not all of them are going to be interesting. Purposefully including a conversation starter is just one more trick to ensure that your name isn’t lost among the other candidates.

Find something from your past, i.e. an interesting job, a unique life experience, or a special skill, and include it on your application with the intention of raising eyebrows. Not only will it strengthen your candidacy, but it will make for a more lively interview process as well.

Thanks for reading, and good luck.