Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Working on My Resume

I really should get a job. For a year I've been living on air, freelance work, and savings, and I'm tired of the schedule of no schedule. Of course, in order to get a job one has to look for a job, and in order to look for a job one has to update one's resume. I don't think there's any task more boring, more horrid, than writing a resume. In my last job I had to read plenty of resumes, so I can say with some authority that reading them is no more fun than writing them. Resumes suck.

I've always changed things on the resume around depending on the job to which I am applying, so that whatever aspects of my experience seems most relevant are brought to the foreground. What this means, practically, is hours spent reliving all the ridiculous and often boring tasks I've mastered at one point or another. Budgeting, for example. I was good with my budget in that I spent all of it every year. If you don't spend it all, it gets cut the next year. So every September I ordered office supplies, computer bags, crap I didn't need just to protect that particular budget line. Budget management means I'm good at spending money I don't have to.

"Managing support staff." That one means that I spent a year trying to get my assistant to show up for work one hour late rather than her preferred two hours late. This would work for about a week at a time. She'd arrive promptly at 10, then it would become 10:25, then 10:47, then we'd be back to two hours late, have a talk that would leave her mad at me, and begin the cycle all over again. I wonder if her resume features her experience "Managing Managers."

I was in charge of our company's crisis communications plan and in making sure that all of our offices had crisis communications plans of their own. This was mainly about PR crises, and was mainly about ensuring that only certain staff would talk to the press and controlling what would be said to the press, but the plan also had to include our potential response to various disasters. What would nuclear annihilation mean to our company? What statement do we make in the event of invasion by space aliens? If California drops into the Pacific, who is our spokesperson? I left the company before Katrina and was saddened to see that we somehow didn't make it into any of the press coverage since my planning had included responses to government indifference and incompetence (although I called that situation "acts of God").

Depending on the position my resume could also include planning and leading conference calls. Some days all I did was go from one conference call to another. Usually this was small groups, but sometimes I had to lead calls with 30 or so participants. Being on the phone with 30 people is a skill, believe me, particularly when you consider that 80% of those people were eating their lunch. At least it sounded that way. How do you compete with lunch? You can't, although on your resume you list your experience in "staff motivation."

Of course all work is cyclical. Some days and weeks I'd be incredibly busy, and then there would be days when I really didn't have that much to do. No one can know about any of this down time, however, or else you'll be given more work that you then have to delegate and oversee to completion. "Time management" becomes an essential skill. How do you make surfing the Web look like a work-related task? How many hours of solitaire can you play while pretending to write press releases? Without effective time management, you might end up actually busy all day, every day, and that's just not the desired measurable outcome.

The process of writing this post and thinking about my resume makes me see why I'd rather continue working for myself. If it weren't for paychecks and health insurance, would any of us go to an office five days a week? But the time has come, and I need to manage it. My resume awaits.


Gatsby said...

It took me months of unemployment to summon the effort to even look at my resume, much less update it. It wasn't laziness, just a general malaise. To look at my old resume and go through the process of rewriting it was a hard look in the mirror and I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to like what I saw.

Then, I started reminiscing, replaying all the greatest hits of my working life in my head. It gave me the confidence and the motivation to get back on my feet, dust off those word docs and do what needed to be done.

I'm happy to say that after a six month unemployment, a prospective employer and I are working through the final stages of pre-employment (background checks, etc.).

LVCI said...

I'm currently studying "Interactive Community Sciences" (goofing off on the net).

My previous employer was appreciative of my unique ability to "remove obstacles blocking productive working interrelationships between employees and corporately perceived goals".

What that really meant- I did what I was told and I stayed out of their way.