The only contest I have ever won was a regional resume writing contest my English professor required us to enter. I was badly in need of a boost to my English grade so I decided that if I was going to enter this contest, I would do my best to win.
As the resumes were turned in that day, I could see that there were many adept graphic designers and many excellent writers in my class. I could also see that I would have had little chance of winning the contest had I not figured out a unique way to differentiate my resume from all the rest.
You see, all of the other resumes were printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, the virtually required standard in the resume world. Mine, however, was printed on 14″ legal size paper and cut down to 11 and 1/32″ long. Only 1/32 of an inch longer than all the others. An imperceptible difference you would think.
I saw my professor flip through the stack of resumes and watched her finger stop on mine, for just an instant. As I watched her finger moved across that extra 32nd of an inch I knew, at that moment, that I would win. Sure enough, I did – first place!
It is interesting to note that the judges stated the reason for my winning as: clean format, well written with clearly defined categories, but I know the real reason. Out of thousands of resumes they picked mine, not because it was written better, neater, or more graphically appealing, but because I had differentiated it from all the rest, in a way the judges didn’t even realize.
That was the day I learned that you don’t have to beat your competitors by much.