Posted by: elambend | October 31, 2007

Process versus highlights

The occasion of looking for a new job and thinking about how to market myself has gotten me thinking on how one should construct their career, or even life.  Specifically, is there a bias toward big events, that is, highlights and against process?  For example, in writing a recommendation letter, it is somewhat difficult to explain a steady improvement over time with the same gusto as highlighting particular highlights.

The same holds for life.  If you imagine that you are at a cocktail party talking to someone you’ve never met before and that you want to demonstrate to them that you are interesting so that they will atleast keep talking to you.  You don’t have time to give your whole life’s story, no matter how exciting it may be, instead it helps to have little vignettes, or highlights, to relate to them and demonstrate how interesting you are.  (Of course, if this is a success, it may lead to meeting again in a different environment in which you can relate the longer story).  Thus, the vignettes become a sort of lead-in.

Now, back to finding a job.  Neither headhunters, nor prospective employers will have time to hear your whole work history, thus it becomes encumbant on you to provide highlights to pull them in.  However, highlights are not always forthcoming.  Even if you assume a model career, marked by consistent and steady improvement, there may not be  ‘wow’ moments to point to.  I wonder how this selection bias plays out in the advancement toward leadership roles.

Also, does this example apply to other venues in life like dating and friendship?

In another post, I’ll compare one economist’s theory on making yourself interesting with the strategies from “The Pick-up Artist .”



  1. If you love The Pick Up Artist as much as I do I recommend going to for all the episodes.

    Two sites for tips that I find intriguing are Mystery’s Venusian Arts and V’s site


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