I’m helping a friend with her resume, and I’m once again reminded of what an absurd game resume-writing is.
I can’t recall the last time I got really serious about writing a resume. My job now, I was hired because I knew a guy and the resume and interview process were a walk-through. I updated what I had handy, re-wrote the first bit to line up with the job and handed it in.
The thing is, a resume is an artful (if you’re good or hire well) combination of lies and marketing crap. You take what you’re good at, add in what you sort of know that sounds good, mix in a few quantifiable achievements, avoid your fuck-ups, and then write it in a stupid, awkward, artificial language that no one actually uses in real life.
It’s so deeply artificial. And yet, a good resume can land you an interview, a bad one will land on the floor unless you have some particular skill everyone needs.
It’s different when you have a very specific technical skill to offer. I mean, Lumberjack, we all know what your job is, you don’t really have to say much. I cut down trees. I eat my lunch. I go to the lavatory. On Wednesdays I go shoppin’ And have buttered scones for tea. But for most of us with a range of possibly-applicable skills, looking for a job those might fit to, it’s a game.
You’re making a sales pitch. Here’s why this car merits your test drive. Here’s why you want to look at this house, not that house. Here’s why you want to try out this set of speakers, not that one.
It isn’t your resume that gets you a job, mostly. It’s your actual grasp of the job to be done, and your skills in an interview.
I’ve had very few interview for jobs that I didn’t win. Once in a while the skill set is wrong (They want a guy with kernal skills, and for all the years of Unix I have, I’ve never done that; or they want a guy who thinks in C, and my C is super-rusty). But usually, I can hack and fake and bullshit my way through, or win on strength of personality. I took a class in how to interview people one time, and I found I did every single one of the things they said to never let an interviewee do.
The resume’s just to get you to the interview.
But you know, I started thinking about what you’d put on your resume if it were you actual strengths.
-Can seduce people I’ve never met with words
-Can win arguments where I’m wrong
-Can overwhelm people with a stream of thoughts and ideas delivered at machine-gun speed
-Can have cyber-sex and write perl code at the same time
-Can write a decent blog entry
-Can write pretty damned good erotica
-Make excellent beer
-Can steer with one knee while doing bong hits
-Make a pretty good dirty martini
-Great scuba diver
-Damned good in the kitchen
-Pretty good in the bedroom
-Very good with hands, fingers, lips, tongue
You know, I have lots of skills that won’t fit on a resume. Those are some of the ones I’m proud of. The fact that I can set up and run a huge compute cluster, can manage projects, can write perl and shell, can manage SQL databases, can write documentation, can install and configure and use complicated CAD tools, can do root-cause analysis on problems, understand and can manage SCM tools. It’s stuff that goes on the resume, but it’s not important stuff about me. It’s what I do, you see, not who I am.
I don’t have any intention of changing jobs soon, but I should update my resume. Useful to do once in a while, so you can see what you’ve been doing the last few years sitting there in front of a glowing computer screen. And who knows, one of these days I might find a way to get paid for blogging or writing blog software. Hey, it could happen.