The Pizza Hut Problem

I live in Michigan. Most know it’s one of the hardest hit states in terms of the recession. There are many empty buildings here waiting to be leased or purchased. Some of the buildings are starting to fill up with new businesses. Ah, recovery. Guess which ones remain empty? We have several commercial sites that are being passed over by those seeking space because they are the shell of the failed businesses that occupied them previously. The business logos may be gone and paint colors may have changed, but you can still tell what used to be a Pizza Hut, Burger King, Boston Market, Long John Silvers or BP Gas Station. At the end of the day, even if these locations offer amenities new businesses may appreciate (ample parking, code compliance, relevant equipment), many potential tenants would prefer to move forward with something unique that doesn’t distract the customers they wish to attract with reminders of the space’s former life.

Why am I bringing this up on a blog designed to help job seekers? In a nutshell, I meet a lot of job seekers who wear their past experiences the same way those empty Pizza Hut buildings do. Sure, they have transferable skills, but the way they present themselves to prospective employers showcases more how they fit their former employer versus how they would compliment another company. They walk and talk like the (insert title) they once were and grumble over a prospective company’s inability to recognize and appreciate their transferable skills when they’ve pointed them out clearly. The trick isn’t just highlighting transferable skills, but stripping oneself of your former brand. A McDonald’s isn’t going to move into a building that looks like an old Burger King no matter how great location, rent and equipment may be. Job seekers who want to move in a different direction have to look the part in addition to selling why what they’ve done in the past is helpful.

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