June 15, 2005

Updating The Resume

Last week, I realized that maybe, just maybe, there are jobs in the world other than the one I currently work at. Such realizations occur occasionally, usually after a particularly bad day on the job.

Thing is, I'm a rut living kind of guy. I'm an expert when it comes to living in a rut. Not a rut goes by that I don't consider living in. You ever notice that if you type the word "rut" enough times, it starts to lose its meaning? I need a quick refresher course. . .

Rut. Noun. An annually recurring condition or period of sexual excitement and reproductive activity in male deer.

Whoops. Wrong rut. Rut roh! This is not the rut I'm looking for. Okay, here's the real rut:

Rut. Noun. A fixed, usually boring routine.

Realizing that I may be a bit too immersed in a rut when it comes to my employment, I decided to dust off and update the old resume. It had been awhile since I last accessed the "My Resume" file on my computer; over three years ago, in fact. So, some serious updating was required.

Crafting a resume really is an art form. You're given about one page to explain why you're good at something. What's more, you have to write it in such a way that someone else will read it and reach the conclusion that you're possibly the best person to fill an employment position. In other words, you have to lie, or at least bend the truth so incredibly far, it forms a circle.

I remember way back when I first wrote my resume. I was fresh out of college and eager to land a journalism job of some sort. ANY SORT. The problem, of course, was that I didn't have much in the way of journalism experience. Somehow, listing three years as a meat department employee didn't seem like the kind of job experience a major newspaper or magazine was looking for.

So, I was basically left with no other choice but to approach my resume as an exercise in creative writing. For example, writing for the little-known campus newspaper became "I coordinated with and interviewed various university officials to provide news and information to the students and faculty of Winona State University by writing for the campus quarterly publication known as 'Bravura.'"

In addition to exaggerating what little actual journalism experience I had, I also found myself plugging in details that looked somewhat impressive on paper, but in actuality were fairly mundane. I found that overstating my experience with computers, in particular, made for good resume fodder.

Keep in mind that I graduated in 1998, so I was able to get away with such claims as: "I have extensive experience working with Microsoft Windows 95, as well as such applications as Microsoft Works and Outlook Express. Additionally, I'm well versed in working on Macintosh computers, and am proficient with the desktop publishing application QuarkXpress."

Where I had the most creative leeway, however, was under the open-ended resume heading that I conjured called "My Abilities." Granted, nowadays, after seven years of actual work experience, I have no need for a "My Abilities" section, but back in 1998, it was a crucial area in which I could write about myself.

"My Abilities" included "Being able to meet tight deadlines and work effortlessly in high stress environments while working well with others to produce high quality written content." Of course, none of that was true. I work horribly with others, and I deal with stress about as well as a postal worker with a concealed semi-automatic weapon. And I don't think I've ever produced quality written content. But, still, it filled space and made me sound like a good candidate, so that was all that mattered.

Finally, after four months of sending out my resume for every writing position I could find, I landed my first post-college journalism position at a newspaper that actually took my resume seriously, the Stewartville Star.

Those suckers.

Posted by Ryan at June 15, 2005 11:37 AM

I've got some ruts in my back yard you are welcome to live in and/or have. They were made by some idiot neighbor kid who got an ATV for xmas.

Posted by: david at June 15, 2005 02:12 PM

Funny how being in a rut is a bad thing but rutting is all about good fun and procreation.

Try explaining why a degree in philosophy makes me a better PR pimp! That's a fun interview question!

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at June 16, 2005 01:57 PM
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