Résumés – How the French Spell It

(in my best Jerry Seinfeld voice) Aaaand what’s the deal with résumés?!

How in the hell am I supposed to project what kind of actual person I am on a piece of over-priced paper (PDF file…whatever…)?!

There’s no way that my meek list of attributes and honors and verbose job descriptions can do any sort of justice to my person, no matter how I edit and rewrite.  How is a potential employer supposed to know how physically strong I am? (great for lifting those banker boxes filled with piles of stupid paper!)  Or how I hold constructive criticism, honesty and integrity in the highest regard?  How about the fact that while I was going to school full-time (for a degree I’ve not yet been paid to use) I was working three part-time jobs?  They’re likely to miss the fact that I’m quick-witted, can be cautious and standoffish when well-warranted and apathetic and welcoming when I need to be.

Someone perusing my résumé will never know where I grew up, the hardships I’ve overcome and really how damned far I’ve come from not much.  I wish they could meet my Mom and see where I get my eye for perfection, my belly laughs and my stubbornness from.  Or have coffee with my Daddy so they’d see why I don’t judge anyone, can see the best in people and can size up a situation quicker than you can say macroverbumsciolist (it’s the word of the week).

I’d love to invite them into a house ablaze with me in full turn-out gear and take note when I pull someone by their jacket away from a innocent-quickly-turning-deadly situation (cause I’m not wanting to dig yo ass out from under piles of ceiling and insulation).  Or let them peek in on my broken self when I don’t get the job and can’t understand why…

While one could argue that a glimpse of these things are what would be realized at an interview, the problem therein is that sometimes I don’t make it that far.  I’m left knowing that chances would have been exponentially better had the employer seen the fire in my eyes, felt the grip of my handshake and was taken aback at my sincerity.

This isn’t a ploy for a job.  This isn’t a complaint I’m lodging against the world… *stands on office chair, fists raised, screaming at the sun while chair slowly and sadly turns*  It’s just an outpouring of various sorts of rejection-like feelings I’ve felt.  And, for the record, it’s worse to make it so near being employed you can taste it and getting a phone call advising you otherwise.  And, for another record, I’m aware you’re not supposed to start a sentence with the word ‘and’.  Let’s just chalk it up to one of those reasons I probably didn’t get a job at another time or another…they noticed.

One of these times stands out starkly in my mind.  I was applying for a company called Epic in Madison, WI right after I graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Useless and a minor in Forever Jobless.  I don’t even honestly remember how I originally stumbled upon the opportunity but I applied for a technical writing position and a project manager position.  What struck me as initially odd was that on the application, they asked for my ACT scores.  From high school.  Right?  Weird…

After that application process, there was a phone interview.  Then a series of tests at K College (which made me want to assault small animals).  Then a call saying they wanted me to come to Madison for a tour, more tests, interviews, etc.  If the first series of tests made me feel bad, these were…ohmygod so much worse.  The facility was nothing short of amazing; it had been designed by the same people who did Googleplex.  The interviews were very similar to regular interviews…except on steroids.

Interviewer: What would you do if this coworker had a stupid idea and everyone else agreed with your much better idea?
Me: I guess I would try to shove their stupidity in their face and point and laugh.
Interviewer: What if they just wouldn’t agree?
Me: I would again, reiterate, how much better our idea is and exploit all the faults and ridiculousness in their idea.
Interviewer: Right…but what if they still resisted?
Me: Um…I guess go to a superior and explain the situation to them?
Interviewer: What if the superior told you that it’s your problem to deal with?
Me: I…um…I would…probably…
Interviewer: QUICK!  Dodge this stapler!
Me: What the…?!
Interviewer: What’s your name?
Me: I…I don’t…know.

***Obviously, the above was not verbatim but it’s pretty close.***

I walked out of that building not able to speak or form a coherent sentence for several hours.  My brain felt as if it had been pulled out, shredded and stuffed back into my skull.  I guess the worst part of it was that since I had applied for two positions, I had to endure the testing and interviewing twice.

A couple weeks later, I’m getting ready for work at the gymnastics facility in Portage, MI (fantastic place…Kids Gym Inc.  I’m so without shame for promoting them right now).  I remember precisely where I was parked, the weather, everything.  I saw an incoming call from my point of contact from Epic.  I couldn’t tell you the exact words but what it was for me was, “Sorry, we found someone better.  They dodged the stapler.  There was nothing we could do…the decision was easy.”  I flat-lined.  I held it together long enough to hang up and just collapsed.

I’m employed now, though I must confess, not happily so.  It’s merely a job…a means to income and some twisted sense of self-worth (no, that’s not even really true).

Here’s my point: résumés are stupid.  Even the way they’re spelled is stupid.  I looked for, like, twenty minutes for the correct spelling.  Is it resume?  Resumé?  Or the pretentious résumé?  (when in doubt, be fancy, I reckon)

My hope is this.  Someday, someone like me will be perusing my résumé and give me (or the person like me…which, let’s be honest…there aren’t any.  Next silly question, please) a chance.  Just a chance to make an impression that’s not in black and white on a single sheet of exceptionally resplendent paper.

Does this mean I don’t care about my résumé?  Hell no.  I may be resistant but I’m not simple.  I work that thing over like a boxer working a speed-bag.  Constantly updating, tearing my hair out over serif and sans-serif fonts, zooming in a thousand percent to make sure my indents are uniform.  Taking out my “Objective Statement” because now they’re faux pas, adding it back in because an employer wants it.

In the meantime, wanting to punch people in the face that say, “I presume I’ll resume writing my resume.”  That shit’s not even punny.  No, seriously, it’s not.

4 thoughts on “Résumés – How the French Spell It

  1. You’re giving them too much credit if you assume people who are interviewing have any idea the hell they’re doing. I have a lot of very clear “WTF” interview memories, and I haven’t even interviewed in like five years. It’s such an artificial and horrible process, and admittedly, I’m terrible at it.

    I get nervous. I feel like the only way I nail interviews is that I accidentally channel some deity/ancestor/alien for the length of it or I’ve interviewed so much recently that I know what they’re going to ask before they ask it. Manhole cover? Answer that makes even the foremost manhole experts, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, take notes. Stapler? Caught and made into a stunning stapler entree to be judged by the Master Chef celebrities.

    At the end of it all, you don’t even know if that was really the job that would have made you happy. Sure, you can assume or expect this or that, but usually jobs are full of that day job work thing. You have to go to meetings about meetings, work on working your work in a more workly way, and design review everything (yes, including the design review process). I’ve always suspected that I’m just not cut out for office life, but I’m doing an okay job pretending. I have an office plant that isn’t dead yet, two monitors, walls, and even a window. I’ve reached so many echelon ladders above cubicle farm monkey that I should be positively ecstatic.

    The truth is, it’s okay. I’m not dying here, but I’m not fulfilled by it. It’s an office. It’s a job where people tell you what to do and you do it. I know there are people out there working for themselves, but I suspect a lot of them are just monkeys to their clients (still not doing what they really want).

    I wish I could close this with some kind of epiphany or inspiration other than, “Yes, I agree,” but that’s all I got. My big consolation is that even if you dodged the stapler, there’s no proof that your life would suddenly be fulfilled, and it probably wouldn’t be. That’s such a horrible consolation. It’s more like a fruit basket for a funeral. At least it’s not a fruit cake, but I’m sorry all the same.


  2. Pingback: At Least It’s Not a Friut Cake: A Response to “Résumés – How the French Spell It” | The Seize

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