Spam Did you know July 5 is not just "post-Independence day"? Today is the anniversary of another American icon—it’s 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?

Waitress: Morning!

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…

But 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:

  1. Try a fresh approach and be more discriminating. Your current diversification into communication is getting old—and isn’t doing you many favors.

    Think I’m wrong? Check out my friend Rob Blatt’s collection of SPAM received in the job search:

    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.

  2. Rethink your marketing plan. I know a large part of your marketing strategy has been to focus on a broad audience for a long time, 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.

    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”?

  3. Stop hoping to make a comeback via mass job search campaigns. Canned resumes and cover letters don’t sell well. In a tight market, job seekers need to distinguish themselves through customization: It may seem like applying to more opportunities increases the speed to a successful job offer, but a better approach is to customize and specify how the position fits pre-existing skills and experiences.

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…