It will never rival Independence day as a time of national significance, but July 5 has a noteworthy claim all the same. This year, the "day after the fireworks" was also the 72nd birthday of SPAM—otherwise known as pseudo-mystery meat in a can.
According to my friends at The Writer’s Almanac, the origins and meaning of the name SPAM are debated even at SPAM manufacturing headquarters. Does it matter? SPAM’s brand recognition is undeniable part of our culture. Are you familiar with the Monty Python skit about the diner which serves nothing without SPAM?
Man: Well, what've you got?
Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon; egg sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg bacon and spam; egg bacon sausage and spam; spam bacon sausage and spam; spam egg spam spam bacon and spam; spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam…
Did you know the skit led to adoption of the “catch-all” term SPAM to cover everything from unsolicited e-mail and snail mail communications to naming the process whereby you send out your resume indiscriminately?
So happy birthday, SPAM! Even if it’s clear we may all live longer, happier, and more productive lives without you—it’s still appropriate to recognize you for your origin and impact…
As birthdays are a great time for reflection and personal growth, I’d like to take the liberty to suggest a few ways that you can improve. After all, you haven't won my favor. Like many, I strive to live a SPAM-free life. It’s nothing personal; I just have a preference for the uncanned. Here are a few recommendations:
- Try a fresh approach and be more discriminating. Your current diversification into communication is getting old—and isn’t doing you many favors. Many people think your approach is formulaic, outdated, and straight out annoying.
Think I’m wrong? Check out my friend Rob Blatt’s collection of SPAM received in the job search: http://resumespam.tumblr.com/
He put the collection together because he’s not a fan of SPAM, either—and doesn’t want job seekers to fall for your tricks.
- Rethink your marketing plan. I know a large part of your marketing strategy has been to focus on a broad audience, but that doesn’t always work—stop using bad pick-up lines that sound just like what you think your audience wants to hear. Be truthful, concise, and specific. Don't make false claims.
Micro-target and customize. Write only when you have something real and valuable to offer: a majority of your end-users are highly educated and aren’t going to fall for your games. See Rob’s smart suggestions on how to find SPAM between the lines of a purported job posting? We know how to avoid you…
Do you really want your message to end up in a filter—or worse—in the “complaint pile”?
- Stop hoping to make a comeback via mass job search campaigns. Canned resumes and cover letters don’t sell well. In a tight market, customization is key: It may seem like applying to more opportunities increases the speed to a successful job offer, but a better approach is to define a focus area, apply to positions which align with your skill set, and articulate how you can make a unique contribution. (Don't you want your reader to realize that you stand out in a field of applicants?)
So, in closing, I applaud you on your milestone of longevity, SPAM, but I encourage you to refocus on what you do best of all—providing sustenance to those hungry and brave souls who need and appreciate your long shelf life! Keep it in the can…