resumes useful? A networker is only as employable
as her links.
Many technical resumes don't describe work experience.
They list technologies and technical certifications.
Paper and interviews don't show leadership skill
or "team playing" ability. Even links are not always
possible to share, since technology work on intranets
is closed to potential employers.
truism in the job market: networking is the way
to a job. If a resume cannot communicate a coherent
image, familiarity might, although image and substance
diverge. The divergence between networking and the
realities of networking is even more obvious.
are no longer spent at a single company. To advance
in a career, one must develop an "image" in a field
by publishing, attending conferences, and joining
clubs. It is not enough to be effective at work;
it is necessary to be involved in job-related activity
outside of work. Maybe this piece will serve that
purpose for me.
the United States, resumes are often called curriculum
vita (CV), the name used in the U.S. for an academic
resume. The difference is interesting. A resume
is a summary, and carries connotations of "assumption"
and "taken up again." Curriculum vitae means
"course of life." A CV is one of many possible narratives.
American resume usually starts with an "objective,"
since a summary does not supply the obvious: a narrative
through the summary. "Objectives" are rewritten
to guide each manager's reading of the summary.
In the place of an objective, many CVs overseas
have attached photographs. Image literally replaces
narrative, even prejudicially.
to the "objective" is the targeted resume. These
show only skills and experiences that lead to qualification,
using jargon from a single vertical market. The
targeted resume is similar to a CV, but it must
display continuity and unity of style even though
it skips some experiences to stress others.
process of resume writing is contradictory. The
resume is supposed to be as objective as possible,
while it must both present experience and interpret
itself as one possible narrative of that experience.
The resume is objective and subjective at the same
time. It must display the characteristics of an
image: coherence, continuity, concision, and clarity.
of experience is difficult to quantify. The demand
for quantification leads to a requirement that facts
and figures narrate, while jargon describes. Time
spent is stressed over efficiency. Ability to show
experience is more important than mastery of new
technologies, since resumes can't show mastery.
Unfortunately, experience doesn't indicate mastery.
Another example is the importance of "showing" time
spent on a project or discipline rather than "telling"
what groundbreaking work entails. Therefore, testing
and certification are stressed over accomplishment.
and figures don't deliver information about knowledge.
Jargon indicates industry familiarity. Jargon by
nature obfuscates or abbreviates. Interviewers demand
brevity and jargon while demanding clarity. Since
interviewers hold the script to the interview (the
only job marketing tool other than the resume),
controlling resume image while satisfying paradoxical
demands is important.
ability differs from job skills outside marketing.
Does the resume and interview "image" misrepresent
those skills? How can difficult-to-quantify skills
be represented? In technology, for example, management,
budget, staff size, and detail of project reporting
are emphasized over end-product functionality or
innovation. Consequently, technology management
is notoriously poor. It is more likely that any
given technology development project will be unfinished
and over-budget than not.
resumes provide an image matching an employer image.
Employer assumptions, created from employer desires,
are not the same as employee desires. A resume must
create a false image.
switching makes it hard to show the continuous employment
and growth necessary for a positive image. Yet,
low unemployment rates increase demand for productivity,
and employers occupy workers with familiar tasks
so they will perform optimally. It is increasingly
difficult to apply for a job which does not involve
more of the same type of work. This slows career
growth. Evolving software and economic changes mean
responsibilities continually change. This creates
a chicken/egg problem formerly limited to the entertainment
industry. How do you get a break? How do you show
years of experience with beta technologies?
want increasing vestment or other direct or indirect
compensation. This was formerly tied to increasing,
not changed, responsibilities. Stasis leads employees
to target companies with explosive growth, such
as Internet startups, which grow rapidly and hire
few employees relative to the amount of available
work. They demand employees grow in their positions
and assume more than full time work, and may compensate
eventually. The risk of their failure is lessened
by low unemployment rates; large companies no longer
offer job security, anyway.
are more likely to load employees with disparate
tasks ("many hats") than with tasks which lead to
career progression and pay raises. An overqualified
or under-worked employee is an employee ready for
a better position at another company. Employers
don't hold employees back, but they can give employees
difficult-to-quantify, company-specific, or divergent
are images, but they are peculiar ones. They are
supposed to be subjective and objective at the same
time. They are supposed to be clear and tell a story,
but they are supposed to be specific and use jargon.
They are supposed to match a potential employee
to an employer image of an employee. The employee
guesses, and provides an image which does not act
in her best interest.
© 2000 Catherine Daly All Rights Reserved
Daly is sole proprietor of e.g., a software
development company. She is also a poet.