Let’s Put Some Dignity Back into Job Seeking
I’ve seen a lot of resumes of late, so I can’t be sure where I saw this, exactly. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. This one resume really stood out to me, though, because it was perhaps the most self-aware talisman of the ceaseless employment quest that I’d ever seen. Specifically, one part of it was the self-aware part, and that came right at the end, under the simple heading “technologies.”
If you opened the PDF file of the resume, scanned down past heading info, work experience, and education, there was this bolded heading of “technologies,” followed immediately by a colon and then a comma-delimited list of stuff. It had programming languages, frameworks, design patterns, concepts, and acronyms. Oh, there were acronyms as far as the eye could see, I tell ya – the streets were paved with ‘em. (Well, they filled out the rest of the page, anyway).
It practically screamed, “this seems stupid, but someone told me to do this, so here-ya-go.” I’ve seen this before (and even done a version of it myself), but it was always organized somehow into categories or something to make it seem like manicured, useful information. This resume abandoned even that thin pretense.
Obviously, I didn’t look through this section in any great detail. I think neither I nor the resume’s owner would have considered it important to evaluate why he’d hastily typed “UML” in between some of those other things. It didn’t matter to either of us what was in that section, and, truth be told, I’d be surprised if he even knew everything that was in there.
I contemplated this idly for a bit, and then it occurred to me how similar this felt to the obligatory job description where a company lists 25 technologies under “requirements” and then another 15 under “nice to have.” UML is probably nice for everyone to have. Both job seeker and company probably list it and neither one probably knows it, making all parties better off even with a bit of mutual fibbing.
Applicants list things they don’t know because companies claim needs that they don’t have, and, in the end, the only one who profits from this artificially large surface area is the recruitment industry as a whole. The more turnover and churn, the more placements and paydays. The way the whole thing works is actually pretty reminiscent of a low quality dating website. Everyone on it lists every one of their virtues in excruciating detail, omits every one of their weaknesses, and exudes ludicrous pickiness in what they seek. Matches are only made when lies are told, and disappointment is inevitable. When people inevitably get tired of failure and settle for a mate, it’s random rather than directed.
Gah. How depressing. Let’s not do that anymore. Let’s look for mutual fit instead of blind prospect maximizing on both sides. We don’t want hundreds of potential employers or candidates. We want a single one that’s well suited.
Overcoming Nostalgia to Say Goodbye to the Resume
I’ve stopped updating my resume. It’s just not something I’m going to do anymore. It’s admittedly easy for me to say this, since I’ve decided not to play the wage employee game anymore. Anyone trying to tempt me back into that arena will necessarily be looking specifically at me and won’t need a resume to know what I’ve done. But even if that weren’t the case and I was interested in this sort of employment, I might set a parameter to the search that anyone requiring an updated resume represented too mutually unknown a commodity for me.
I encourage you to push back against this low success game for matching candidates with employers. You don’t have to quit the game altogether, nor do you have to refuse to keep a current resume. Instead, just open your resume in Word, scroll to the bottom and delete the alphabet soup. Don’t slim it down, don’t reformat it, and don’t update it. Just delete it. If not having “UML” in a random place on your resume is the difference between some company calling or not, you don’t want to hear from that company anyway. The market is too good and your skills in too much demand for you to worry about that one company. Wait for a company that’s interested in you as a human. That company won’t care too much what your resume says and, when they find you, neither of you will be forced to settle.