Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rubber Ducky Ties and Resumes

Resumes are like ties.

In a world where baggy khakis, wrinkled polo shirts, and Dockers are accepted as professional modus operandi I stick out like a sore thumb.  I show up wearing my patterned shirts and knit ties and get stared down like a monkey is perched atop my dome; however, I don’t flinch and take the stares as compliments.  In my love for fashion I don ties frequently and in my familiarity with these odd pieces of fabric do run across the occasional god-awful, breath taking tie that should never ever be worn.  You know what I am talking about, the one with duckies on it or the holiday tie that lights up and sings. We all know the regular ugly tie offenders in our offices and hold our laughter inside out of professional courtesy.  Resumes are like ties. 

In a world where the tangible is at times seen as archaic it seems counter-intuitive that a piece of paper summarizing a person in one page or less is universally accepted.  Everything is moving toward paperless and electronic, less and less in-hand documentation is needed.  I was actually just discussing with my wife the other day how carrying around a piece of paper that you must make sure is new every 6 months in the glove department of your vehicle is silly.  I often wonder when the big transition will take place with older mediums like insurance cards and resumes, but until then I will hesitantly participate.  Ties are a good thing, they really make an outfit that is otherwise decent pop.  It’s amazing what a little piece of silk or wool (depending on the season) can do for an entire look.  In principle and theory a tie is nice and this is where the sentence should stop, however, this small piece of material can be and is often abused in such a way that it does the exact opposite of what it was intended to do.  Resumes in theory are a good thing, although the method of expression seems outdated.  The idea of reducing large things into easily digestible bits of information made easily accessible makes sense.  The most encouraging thought of progression I’ve seen in quite some time regarding resumes came in the ideology of a Twesume.  Basically it is a 140 character summary of you and what you’re looking for using the 140 character model of Twitter.  As nice as that progressive thinking is, there still remains the problem a resume can cause. 

Sometimes a resume can hide a person.  Sometimes resume can be filled with 10 years of insurance industry experience, but hide the reality of a creative, high pressure environment loving, intuitive thinking, big picture understanding person with potential and raw talent best suited for anything but insurance.  This is the dilemma I face daily.  I started in insurance as a teenager fresh out of high school and have just progressed within this field since then.  I’ve adapted and done quite well for myself, but my strengths would actually be used best in another area.  How does 10 years of experience in insurance convey that message? 

I’ve learned something encouraging in the past 7 months though.  A resume truly doesn’t matter and is only a technicality if you are viewing the professional world holistically.  People don’t hire resumes, people hire people.  I’ll cover the connection of people over resumes in another post, but the general idea is that your resume is something that should be asked for as a technicality.  You should be in a position where people want to hire you regardless of your past professional experiences summed up on a single piece of paper.  This requires you to think more critically about your past.  How can you use your past to expose your strengths in action?  That is truly what your resume should be about.  Your past experiences should be viewed as times when you could and did express the strengths you can use in whatever it is you are interested in.  Can you find a trend or theme in your resume?  Resumes can be real nice but like an ugly tie, sometimes they just get in the way of people taking you seriously.  I’m not for not wearing ties, I just think ugly ones should be discarded, and the same rings true for resumes. The reality of resumes in the professional world isn’t going to change anytime soon, so how can you leverage your past experiences to help you shine moving forward or to persuade others of your abilities and strengths?

Dear Adam (an open letter about journey/process)

This morning as I stood in the living room I felt the burden you have of making something happen in 2012, but I also know how hard you can be on yourself.  In an attempt to stop you from allowing doubt and impatience to tear you down I thought it’d be wise to write you(me) a letter as a reminder of where we've been in 2011 so 2012 will look brighter when times seem dark. 

05/18/2011 

This is a date that should not be forgotten.  This is a pivotal day in your life, one in which you decided to stop floating and put in the tough work of discovering yourself.  You first exchanged emails with Barb on this date (Barb is a career counselor that I met to dig in deep on deciding a career choice based on data).  Through personality and other platform tests Barb helped you discover your intuitive and most natural strengths and personality traits.  Through this you discovered who you are and why you were, what made you tick.  This was a great bottom line to discover because it helped you really understand why you were good at some things and not good at others.  Often times people get confused and think they are incapable or not smart enough to do certain things when in reality the true focus should be on what they should be doing as an expression of their natural makeup.  You now know your strengths and over the past 7 months have worked hard at trying to focus them. 

Based on all this information the top three careers that people like you were successful and happy in were (in order) 1. Professional athlete 2. Marketing/Advertising 3. Mental Health Counseling.  Marketing/Advertising ended up being what you chose to focus your strengths on and explore.  Starting from scratch you researched and contacted as many advertising and marketing agencies as you could.  Through that you have met a great number of good people, people who now know your story and what kind of journey you are on.  You’ve networked and marketed yourself so well over the last 7 months that in a horrible economy, with zero experience, and no connections you have received 2 flattering job offers.  Sure it is easy to get down about these opportunities not working out, but remember that these were people interested in you, enough so to desire you as an employee.  Circumstances didn’t allow these to blossom into anything more than flattering offers, but you learned a lot from each and met great folks as well.  It’s easy to get discouraged because you have not found the perfect opportunity yet, but you’ve accomplished much through marketing yourself the way you have.  Keep up the work, and when you doubt read this, be reminded that you are doing the right things. 

I’m not one to think I know it all or ever will, I just hope others can learn from my experience.  I hope you may glean something from this open letter.  If nothing more, I hope you can find the encouragement the future me will need throughout this journey.  Stay strong friend and trust in yourself and the process, be patient, be grateful, and trust you do and will reap what you sow.