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What is Your Purple Cow? | How to Write a Remarkable Resume

Resumes & Cover Letters

I stumbled upon a TED Talk with Seth Godin the other day and I’m pretty sure I am now his biggest fan. You can tell when someone is good at what they do, when your internet shuts down three times and you keep going back to hear the whole talk.

That is how I learned about purple cows, and why it is so important to have a purple cow in your resume. That is, if you want a remarkable resume.

What is your purple cow?

Godin is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and speaker. In Godin’s YouTube video, he talks about cows.

“If you were driving down the road and see a cow, you would most likely keep driving. Seeing a cow grazing while driving through farmland is nothing new. You’ve seen cows before. Depending on where you live, you have probably seen hundreds of cows at this point in your lifetime. You are not going to stop and pull over and say, “Oh, look, a cow!"

"But if the cow was purple, you'd notice it for awhile."

Writing a remarkable resume

A remarkable resume is very similiar to a purple cow, in the sense that to be remarkable, your resume has to be worth making a remark about.

To Godin's point, "If you take your resume out of your job application package, what do you have?

How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows or respects?

Or a sophisticated project they can see or touch?

Or a reputation that precedes you?

Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful that they have no choice but to follow up?"

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a resume. Alot of places require you to submit a resume. There is nothing you can do to get around it. But I’m encouraging you to go beyond the resume.

As Godin says, “If you don’t have those, why do you think you are remarkable, amazing or just plain spectacular?

My question to you as the reader is this: What is your purple cow? What makes you stand out? What have you done either in your previous jobs, volunteer work, etc. that makes you remarkable?

Once you have your resume written with all the right details and specialized experience, I want you to ask yourself, “Where is my purple cow in all of this?”

Personal example of my purple cow

One of the things I am passionate about is the health and safety of my coworkers and employers. I am CPR certified and in my last job, I needed to renew my certification. Normally, on a military base, this training is offered free to employees and anyone with the proper military identification. You should be able to go to the training on base and take it during duty hours.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case in my last job (and by the way, we didn’t have any AED machines in our buildings either). I remained persistent for a year, working every angle I could to change the “policy”, so we could be allowed to take CPR training during duty hours without using our leave/vacation time. I was also working to get AED machines installed in all our buildings at the same time.

But to no avail. For nearly a year.

Then we got a new boss. After a few weeks, the subject of CPR training was brought up to the new boss.

Within a week or so, the policy was changed, and we could now take the training during work hours. They began working on getting AED machines in our buildings as well.

TWO YEARS LATER, after I had moved due to a PCS (military move), a friend sent me a text letting me know AED machines were finally getting installed in all the buildings within that organization.

While it may not directly apply to my work experience, it is something I am extremely proud of having initiated. It took a year for CPR training to get approved and 3 years for AED machines to get approved and installed.

This is my purple cow.

Megan Wollenberg is a military spouse that connects Veterans and military spouses with career resources at

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