By Lisa Parker

There is a reason why greeting card aisles offer lots of choices. No matter how similar the overall message, the way it’s delivered depends heavily on the relationship between giver and receiver, the perspective of the receiver, the situation at hand and what the message needs to achieve.

Imagine how different the card would need to be in the case of:

  • A birthday card for a friend turning 50 vs for a nephew turning 5.
  • A “congratulations” card for the arrival of a sister’s new baby vs a co-worker’s landing of a new job.
  • A Father’s/Mother’s Day card for an involved parent vs one who was largely absent.
  • A “thinking of you” card for a cousin diagnosed with a serious disease versus one for a neighbor who had a tree fall on his house.
  • A December holiday card for a Christian family vs a Jewish family.

Consider for a moment how it comes off to the recipient if the giver doesn’t take the time to make sure the message is appropriate and valuable. That 50 year old friend who gets a card with Thomas the Train stickers inside is going to think the giver is either joking or 3 quarters shy of a dollar. It’s painfully clear that card was intended for a different audience.

Also consider how it comes off when the card is so generic it really doesn’t matter who the giver or recipient might be. Phoning it in isn’t a way to make a good impression. Any message that leaves a receiver wondering why the person even bothered is a failure.

You know what comes next, right? When putting together a resume for prospective employers, please think of this greeting card analogy. If you’re doing it right, the variations of your resume should fill up a few sections, not slots, in a greeting card aisle. Every job you apply to should create a new “card” in your inventory. Job seekers working with 2 or 3 versions of their resume have, more than likely, flopped in the delivery of the message and left recipients wondering if they truly understood the situation or even cared enough to get it right.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Michigan State University.


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