The job-hunting peeve of the week
I won't bore you with the details. It was a useful reminder that the resume they had was nearly six months old. I don't have "a" resume anymore than I have "a" cover letter. I have templates that I rework according to the position, and as a result my presentation evolves over time.
However, their professional resume writer—and what else was this but a pitch to spend $400 for their resume service—punched one of my hot buttons. No matter what you have in your resume, I will bet you that if you get a "professional" resume review, the reviewer will sing you a song about how you're not showing enough specific instances of original contributions and innovations in your previous jobs. This burns me in two ways. First, it's right out of the original Bernard Haldane playbook from 50 years ago. Second, almost no one who makes a living fleecing the jobless asks whether these sacred texts still have any validity.
When Haldane wrote, the majority of career counselor clients had a job and wanted a different one. People who played by company rules kept their jobs and their stress levels for life. Even "troublemakers" (i.e., innovators) weren't fired but sidelined. Now, anyone can get whacked, and most people writing resumes do so because they have to, not because they want to.
Even though this fundamental change has taken place, job-search pundits act as though nothing has changed. In the era of lifetime employment, the job-seeker needed this powerful record to explain the desire for change and to show what he (usually he, then) could bring to the new party. Many of today's unemployed have worked for companies that went out of their way to penalise originality and innovation: the very people whose only resume was their first one 50 years ago are now out of work. Some of today's unemployed may also come from occupations in which innovation can be an outright disaster, for example finance. Do the pundits and resume writers ever ask about this? No; the sacred texts say you have to be original and innovative. This may be true in the parallel universe that they, and HR departments, inhabit, but it may not be true in the real working world.
Two of my three recent employers were very, very cool to the idea of original thinking about anything. At one, originality was a quick ticket from the production end of things to something like facilities management . The second was holed below the waterline and throwing people overboard long before I found a way to make original contributions despite their attitude. The result of course is that innovation has no place on my job record from either.
I've lined up my position for the next time I get face time with one of these experts. After first pointing out this inconvenient truth, I mean to ask if they want their clients to lie on their resumes? It bloody well sounds like it. If not, then I still have my original question: when do they plan to throw out ideas generated in a lost world, and help people respond to what is going on around them?