My Resume is a Worthless Piece of e-Paper

I’ll get personal today because a lot of career issues are common. Many people are unemployed, and stuck that way.

I hate my resume. I mean it is pretty, thanks to fabulous layout. I’ve done tons of interesting things. I’m on top of all new technologies, innovations, social media, and business news; and I’ve started two successful consultancies.  But that doesn’t necessarily get a person an interview request when you’re only submitting to the best places to work along with hundreds-thousands of other people.

I’m  always telling everyone – here’s what your resume should say, how it should say it, and what the overall feeling you get from it should be. But when you don’t like your resume?

You can’t always write a career summary that would explain your situation positively or in a way that would put you ahead of the person who majored in the right areas in school or who obtained and advance degree in an area you want to enter, who then went on to have only progressively responsible positions in your field, and has been in it for 10 years – not too many more or less.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do the job better that above said person – but on paper it’s obvious who gets chosen for the interview.  You haven’t managed large budgets? You haven’t managed large teams? Don’t have ‘accomplishments’ to brag about that don’t sound like, well, bragging?

What’s a candidate to do when they want to work at google or apple? Or some other fabulously innovating company that values and develops their talent – when you don’t have it on paper?

Different people handle this situation in different ways – but here are a few I’ve seen:

1. Have a simple resume, get a job in a company at the bottom of the ladder (i.e. unpaid internship, administrative assistant, etc.), and work your way up. This if fine for the young, patient, and ambitious. Especially the males, they statistically do better with this method. Women who attempt this generally stay towards the bottom of the career ladder.

2. Volunteer either in or outside of work for large-scale projects, so you have those accomplishments to put on your resume. This is great if you’re unemployed or don’t have a lot of obligations, as that it’s time consuming – but for someone trying to manage a career, long commutes, and family or other obligations it’s not always practical.

3. Lying. People figure into the recruiters-are-ditzes stereotype and hope their exaggerating what and where they’ve done it won’t be seen through. Ethics aside – people figure ‘everybody’s doing it’, which is unfortunately accurate for a lot of people. Ewwwwwwww.

4. Humor. I’ve seen a woman returning from being a stay at home mom have on her resume, “CEO of Smith Household.” Or, “Executive Director of Childcare.”  You can throw in a few things that might help your personality come across to recruiters. I know that whomever is reading my resume is probably sick of looking at resumes, especially ones that all sound the same – so a little fun with it, tastefully, might help get attention.

Unfortunately, as you can guess, lying generally gets people the furthest into the interview process. Depending on the employer, often the liar may even get the job. Some jobs you only have to ‘talk the talk’, and it doesn’t matter if you ever did or ever will ‘walk the walk’. But for other positions, actual skills and experience are necessary to do a job appropriately. Once you’re figured out you’ll be back on the job hunt again, bringing you back to the beginning of the cycle where said evil people belong.

So what do you do first?

You be patient. You network. You continue to improve your resume. You follow the places you want to work, be on top of their openings that you’re qualified for. You attend events to meet people who work for these companies. If you have time, offer to volunteer or intern for them. You do everything in your power to set yourself apart from the herd appropriately in all of your social media profiles. You follow people and companies on linkedin. You join industry groups on linkedin. You ask others who were in your boat who’ve succeeded how they did it. You You You…it’s all about YOU, and what efforts you are willing to put in.

And then hope that one day it’ll all pay off, as you sit enjoying the view from your corner office of the company of your dreams. Sigh. Dare to dream.

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What Not to Wear to Work

Bill Gates in business-casual attire.

Via Wikipedia - Gates in (Nerdy) Business Casual

I recently remarked to my husband that I wish I could wear PJ’s to work or something equally as comfortable. He said the only socially acceptable way to do this is if we move to Staten Island or New Jersey. But what about all the other people in the office who are wearing things I wouldn’t paint my house in?

I’m not saying my office per se, but in general lines have blurred when it comes to what’s appropriate to wear to an office. I think the suits-only companies left are few and far between – primarily high-end law & accounting firms. I’m sure there may be others, but generally most offices have taken the ‘business casual’ or plain old ‘causal’ workforce attire.

Casual

Anything goes, and if you wear a suit people will assume you’re going for an interview somewhere else after work – unless the head honcho is in town. That doesn’t even apply if you work for a start-up or trendy DUMBO place – the CEO’s there probably are wearing their hipster faded jeans too.

Business Casual   

The ultimate of gray areas. When people ask me what that means at interviews, I generally say, “No jeans, sweats, sneakers, t-shirts, large logo’s, or workout wear – and anything else goes.” What does it really mean in an office environment? It means 3 people in the same exact position & salary – one will be in a collared shirt, tie and slacks. The next guy will be in flip flops, shorts, and a t-shirt. The third person will be in a head-to-toe ed hardy or similar design/logo-covered sweat suit with expensive sneakers. Depending on where you work is how much will fly causally.

Business Attire

AKA suits. Or at least a shirt and tie with a jacket perpetually on the back of your chair. The ladies get to mix it up with either pencil skirts or pants. It is expected that your clothing is tailored to fit you. You should look and act like a professional.

Dress-down Fridays?

I’ve seen the flip flops with shorts in one department of a company on a Friday, where a different department a supervisor remarked, “I couldn’t help but notice you were wearing jeans on Friday…” When in Rome…even if there is a dress-down policy in some departments, it may not apply to all. Take a hint from what your supervisor wears. Also if you have an important meeting on a Friday, that’s a good reason to dress well anyway.

Dress for the Job You Want, Not the Job You Have

This is old advice that many have lived by, and I’ve seen it work successfully. It may come across as awkward if you have a large divide in what the next level of administration up from you wears, i.e. if you’re level dresses casually as call takers, but the supervisors wear suits, it might seem weird if you walk in suddenly one day and going forward in suits. I suggest taking it up one step, but never over-dress. If the boss doesn’t wear a tie or suit, you shouldn’t either. It doesn’t mean that you have to go casual. Wear sleek, classic styles that would make you stand out from the jeans crowd, but not peg you as someone trying too hard.

Dress = Atmosphere

Business clothing brings with it the ‘business’ atmosphere. You wouldn’t yell out, “Who wants to come for pizza with me for lunch?” in a business environment. But if everyone’s dressed casually, why not? I saw an article featuring a start-up that had clothing for the start-up CEO. Yes, I’m serious. It was basically very overpriced durable hipster suit jackets to be worn with jeans and collared shirts. The craziest part? All the comments left on the article were either commending the company – that it’s so hard to figure out what to wear when you don’t want to overdress – but also don’t want to be the brunt of ‘Zuckerberg’ jokes because he’s still wearing sweats with flip flops a few billion later.

Then women got in on it in the comments section – like how men don’t need $400 suit jackets to wear with jeans – women do! That the men are all wearing collared shirts & jeans – but what do the women wear to look put together but casual, and still get taken seriously?

The women were jealous and were hoping this company would do a women’s line. Wow. All I could think was that uniforms are great. That high-paid executives, even business owners, have trouble presenting themselves with clothing – and wouldn’t it be easier to take out all the guessing?

Even if the uniform is black suit, light colored shirt, at least you won’t have to spend hours guessing what’s appropriate for work that day!

So in conclusion  –  know that whatever you wear will be judged in your place of employment. It may never be expressed to you, but the overall impression your coworkers and superiors have of you will be largely based on your appearance. Yep we’re that superficial, now you know – don’t pretend you don’t.

Wearing beach clothes to work is fine if you’re in a dead-ended job and plan to burn your bridges with them on your way out – but if you even think you might want to use them as a reference for your next ‘real job’ – dress up a bit more.

You have nothing to lose except a little comfort. Go get into your t-shirt as soon as you get home, pop open a cold beer, and return to being the unprofessional sloth you really are deep down inside. At least this way no one at work will ever be on to it, and you’ll have a professional reputation!

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What’s the Big Deal About Superwoman? Let’s be Friendrepreneurs instead.

I’m much more successful, and accomplish a lot more that she did.

All my not-single ladies – yeah fellow mom’s & doers out there – why do we idolize Superwoman? Why is she the proverbial role model? All she did was hold down an impressive job.

Did she balance work, a husband, children, guests, friends, a clean home, diet, exercise, live on a budget in a recession, stay on top of the news, culture, and technology and make sure everyone around her was happy – on high heels?

Oh wait, I do all that. It hit me while I was studying for the GRE’s and doing grant writing for grad school scholarships while pumping at work (yes I’m a nursing mother in addition to all of the above) that Superwoman has nothing on me.

I’m still the one who makes sure everyone has new socks when they need them and clothes that are seasonally appropriate in their closet with food they like in the fridge (thank you online grocery shopping) with fun filled weekends with careers and schools they enjoy and benefit from and and and…

I’m the person everyone I know turns to when they need anything from advice on the cheapest place to buy boots through how to get a new job or new husband – and expect this on a volunteer basis, because hey, what else does Sharon have to do?

I think Belle said it best in Beauty & The Beast, “There must be more than this provincial life.”

Women have ceiling to uphold, glass or otherwise.

We all work, whether for pay or raising a family – it counts. Don’t forget about taking care of yourself to avoid burnout, even though I know you don’t have the time for it.

I’m a firm believer of working smarter, not harder…just then why am I working so hard? Why do I need more hours in the day? Why is sleep so far down on my list of priorities that it doesn’t even faze me that I need 3+ cups of coffee a day to stay alert?

I’m probably only one of the many women out there that are constantly brainstorming new ideas for businesses, just hoping one will stick. I’ve invented a phrase for my entrepreneurial friends like me:

Friendrepreneurs. Let’s work together.

I’m hoping that I’ll find a lucrative enough idea for a business that I’ll be able to feel both fulfilled, able to pay private school tuition, work less hours to be around more for the kids, employ every talented person I know, and have time to do the laundry for a change.

When you walk into my cluttered house you can tell artists live there, not just by the cinnamon bark colored walls with the buttered popcorn crown molding and art. Our home is the epicenter of the creative beings who inhabit it and visit it frequently.

Yes we hope to upgrade said home to something suburban with parking and more room for those visitors and a backyard for the kids, but it will remain the same happy, peaceful haven that people enjoy being at. I’ll make sure of it, just another part of my job.

It helps that I have an amazing husband who knows what I need and supports me and every eccentric whim of mine, and that I have staffed incredible strong women in their upper 50’s to watch my children and do  my laundry as that I’m at the office 9-6ish. Those are my supporting actors and actresses that help me be the rockstar I am, who I love and know benefit from the strength and skills that I provide.

I’m frequently asked by those who know me why I speak so quickly, why I’m always ‘doing so much’. Why my handwriting is so fast and rushed, why my signature only has time to be 4 letters. Why don’t I slow down?

It’s been quoted that Abraham Lincoln said, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” If I took more time to do the things I do, much less would get done.

I do wonder from time to time if it’s all appreciated or worth it. Not from a self-pity, low self-esteem point of view. Rather I just wonder what would happen if I stopped. If I woke up one morning and said I’d rather go for a day at a spa than being productive. My nails and makeup are always done while I drive, after all what other good uses are there for all that time spent at red lights? And why waste money on manicures if I can do a fab job myself. More money to take the family out to dinner instead. Oh wait, I cook better meals than most restaurants, so we don’t go out to eat much…so maybe more money for vacations? So we can go somewhere fabulous for the weekend? Nah we’ll go on a priceline budget trip to Connecticut, but take as much of the extended family as we can afford with connecting rooms instead.

Now if anyone is still reading this rant, which I’m guessing many of you are, you might be having various trains of thought, but I’m hoping you’re wondering how you can do more. And you can, because you’re a woman, and we’re amazing. We’re beautiful each in our own ways (now if only you’d all believe it and stop starving yourselves and put down the wrinkle creams)!

My way to find more, to aspire to do better things, is to dream. Everyone once in awhile both on my own, and with my husband, I make us sit down for a brainstorming session. We discuss our dreams and goals. I ask him to let his creative mind wander, and ask the following questions of ourselves:

  • What would we do if we could do anything? If money, time, and resources were of no issue.
  • Where would we live if money, politics, and family weren’t keeping us where we are?
  • What would our ideal lives look like?

By focusing on those main questions every few years, we come up with a mental list of unofficial goals. I have yet to write them down. This way they stay in our minds and hearts, and stay flexible. Our wants and goals evolve and grow as we do – as should yours.

Take some time to dream, even if it’s only one hour once every few years – so at least you know why you’re hustling, what your working towards, and what will make YOU happy (oh yeah and your family/friends too).  Don’t let yourself become the aimless rat in the wheel – run for a purpose, and pat yourself on the back for all that you do.

Superwoman couldn’t handle all of this, trust me.