“Check my records, check my facts
Check if I paid my income tax
Pore over everything in my C.V.
But you’ll still know nothing ’bout me”
All great documents/writers through out history have been open to interpretation. Shakespeare, Milton, Dante’, Calvin & Hobbs… Not just literature, but works of penmanship – The Declaration of Independence, the Bible… even our current legal system has an entire industry built around translating and interpreting the words committed to paper. It comes as no surprise that our individual livelihood usually hinges on one specific document at one point, or several points, in our lives. I am of course talking about a resume.
Whose bright idea was this? Who woke up one morning and said, “Let’s have everyone list their experience and history on a single piece of paper”. Even if you are an over accomplished Ivy leaguer, I can imagine few things more daunting and humiliating than summarizing your life in outline form. Your entire worth as a human – the encapsulation of all that you have to offer – paraphrased, edited and single spaced – flush with abbreviations and acronyms that even you can’t keep straight. What makes it worse is the expected and oft realized level of deception on behalf of both the creator and the poor fellow trying to interpret it.
One of my recent tasks has been to find a good candidate for an open position within my company. I have been on the hiring end of this process several times in my career but have never been in a position where I had to actually gain knowledge about someone by using their resume. I simply put out some feelers with people I know, or pick from my cast of usual characters. As members of my team will attest, that doesn’t always end well either, but some times ‘the devil you know’ is not a bad option. My first job was sweeping hair at a barbershop, (R.I.P. Freddy Stahl), I was 10. I’m in my…. uh… late 30’s now (ironically, am loosing my hair), and cannot remember using a resume to gain employment. Ever…. However, I am certainly not the norm.
Why is the Curriculum Vitae, or C.V. so subjective? Tell me honestly – Do you have only one copy of your resume? Of course not. I don’t care who you are or what you are trying to do, you are going to ‘tailor’ it to the intended audience. Not to mention the inevitable embellishment. If you are a salesman, what kinds of sales? Are you ‘proficient in multiple forms of client acquisition?’ Are you a dishwasher? You want to explain that you are ‘experienced in all forms of post-meal janitorial duties.’ Are you a janitor or a ‘waste engineer?’
To be honest- nobody checks these things anyway. You can, but who is really going to? In most cases it’s to time consuming – which equates to being too costly.
“So, you were Assistant to J.D. Salenger? Very impressive. uh… Shouldn’t you be a bit older?…”
Still, I’d like to see someone try to verify that one. Let’s face it, it’s a good idea, but in this day and age someone should have come up with a better system. Technology is a beautiful thing. Can we use some here please?
While we are at it – why limit it to jobs? Why not life experiences? Dating history – financial status – size of your, uh, let’s go with porn collection… This is the information age, right? Why shouldn’t I be able to scan someone’s iris with my cell phone and see if they have any STD’s, or are married, or have a picture in every post office this side of the Mason Dixon line. And don’t give me that crap about civil liberties. Every time someone throws that one up it makes me want to smack them – with their own left hand . Show me a guy who wants to burn a flag or a book, and I’ll show you a guy laughing at us because “We The People” hand him a friggin’ match. Now I’m not suggesting that we bar code everybody, or make the Scarlet Letter vogue again, but you can’t tell me that it wouldn’t be nice to know the sexual history of your babysitter.
In this point in our history, the right to share the information in the information age has become more subjective than information itself. The dehumanization of the ‘people process’ has begun – and the transformation is automated. In addition to a resume that is all but unverifiable, calling for a reference is almost impossible. The ‘official policy’ for ALL companies is to verify the employment dates and the reason for termination (which could be positive or negative). That’s all. That’s it. So if you are at “big blue” for 30 years and relocate, finding a job in your new land will have to happen with out ANY kind words from anyone for whom you’ve worked the last 30 years. The fear of reprisals has left us bereft of the ability to rightfully compliment our fellow man.
But I digress…My point here, should I get around to making one, is that it seems fallible to hire a person based on a piece of paper that could really tell me squat about said candidate. Which is exactly what I get from the majority. Most companies, big and small, now subject candidates though several interviews with several people – getting the opinion of multiple people before residing themselves to taking a chance and offering Biff the wonder worker a job. This is, of course, a process usually done with several candidates at a time, leaving current employees little time to do anything else in a day besides looking for people to hire because they had too much work to do in the first place… Wouldn’t it be great if you look at a piece of paper or something that told you whether the person you were about to interview was qualified or not?
‘Course that’s just how I see it. Your view may differ.