Wednesday, April 11, 2007

3 Rs and a Screwdriver

I've been a bit busy lately, with

Reading: an interesting mix of fact and fiction as research for

Riting: The Nobble. It exists as research notes, a family thicket, a timeline, and a few - um - scenes. This may take some time.....

and Rithmetic:

One million aches: 1 megahurtz

Basic unit of laryngitis: 1 hoarsepower

Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement:
1 bananosecond

1 million microphones: 1 megaphone

2000 mockingbirds: two kilomockingbirds

1 millionth of a fish: 1 microfish

1 trillion pins: 1 terrapin

1 million billion picolos: 1 gigolo

10 cards: 1 decacards

10 rations: 1 decoration

10 millipedes: 1 centipede

2 monograms: 1 diagram

8 nickels: 2 paradigms

2 wharves: 1 paradox

(OK, so the last bit's just padding, but it's fun. Some of these appear on a Teacher's Day-to-View calendar, but you'll find more here.)

Actually, there's not been much writing either, except of the Application-Form-plus-CV-and-Supporting-Letter variety. I used to think that a CV was a simple record of what one has been doing. Pshaw! What a foolish notion!

As any CV-writing website - and there are several out there - will demonstrate, a CV is a delicately balanced tool with as many potential variations as a screwdriver, and the jobseeker must choose the appropriate one in order to gain access to the potential (pause for swift intake of breath and adjustment of tone to reverential) employer.

Hmm... Screwdriver: connotations of DIY, shaken-not-stirred, breaking-&-entering, taking-&-driving-away. Sometimes I am troubled by my subsconscious........

OK I don't want to jerry his Jag, roger his Rover, or do anything at all to his Beemer. I just want an interview.

So I'll stop worrying about (a) Slotted, (b) Phillips, (c) Pozidriv, (d) Torx, (e) Hex key, (f) Robertson, (g) Tri-Wing, (h) Torq-Set, (i) Spanner

Thank you Wikipedia ..........and.... I'd better go hone a new metaphor....... I mean key.

So, first read over your CV file, which you have of course diligently reviewed every six months since you completed your education, sometime in the last millennium. (You haven't? Well, pshaw to you too!).

Now, what exactly do you want to do with it? (Sorry. What is your objective?) Do you want to apply for a job in the same field?......... in a different field?............ apply for a particular job vacancy?

Does your CV fit the bill? Yes?

Brrrrrrringggggg! Go straight to style*.

(Er, what?



If not, what's the problem? Underqualified? Overqualified? Too young? Too old? Unemployed? Fired? Gaps? Inexperienced? Criminal record? No degree?

Don't fret. Be positive. It's not just what you've done, it's what it says about your character, strengths, and potential value to the employer lucky enough to land you. It's not just what you say, it's also how you say it. It's not just what you put down, it's how you lay it out.

Et cetera!

And now, balanced precariously as you are between optimism about your innate fabulousness, and anxiety about the intricacies of the above, perhaps you would like to consider whether the appropriate style* for your CV is: Chronical, Targeted, Combination, CV, Inventory or Functional?


OK. I've stopped.

Speaking as someone for whom the term career might have been invented (Consider it as a verb rather than a noun.....) I present a bit of a conundrum for a prospective employer with formal procedures and conventional expectations. I have been involved for an extreeeeeeeemely long time in community work, community arts and arts education; sometimes it's been paid work, sometimes not; sometimes freelance, sometimes on contract; but always productive and satisfying. Add to that the fact that, for over a decade, virtually every project or contract has come via referral, and the CV has been something of a formality; and it becomes apparent why, this close to my 50th birthday, I find myself consulting websites on how to fill in a CV that conveys all of the above as energetic, multi-faceted, etc. rather than...... something less marketable....

It's actually been a very interesting exercise. In common, I think, with most people, I find networking and self-promotion quite unsettling, but I do understand that if you don't lay out your stall properly, potential customers will pass you by. When it comes to creating what I sincerely hope will be an effective CV, it's at least as stimulating as a sudoku puzzle - and I like sudoku! What gets me is not the listing and highlighting, the boxing and bordering, and the honest business of selling the product (me!). It's the gimmickry of goal statements and what I shall call dynamic jargon.

Habibi regularly receives emailed CVs (or biodata - not a term I'd heard of til I came here)


OK: tangent time!

(It did not bother me that a company that I used to work for counted its employees as 'work units'. It was a big, well-run, 24/7 company, and no-one ever actually called me Work-Unit 2222 to my face. However, quite apart from the fact that the term 'biodata' does not strike the ear with either the self-confidence of 'CV' or the gravitas of 'curriculum vitae', it says 'Work Unit' to me.

It says that the person who puts this term at the top of her written representation of herself has been conditioned to see herself as a mere cog, a drone. That kind of conditioning would also explain the whipped puppy eagerness of the 'goal statements' which pant across the page, scattering 'Pat me! Pat me!' promises in all directions.

I'm out of practice. This is coming out sour, and, I think, disingenuous. If you come from a relentlessly competitive background, an employment culture of survival of the fittest, and have seen both the rewards of success and the price of failure, then of course you will have absorbed the attitudes, and the language, which such a culture generates. But it can be counterproductive if recruiters from other cultures read it through their own cultural filters. My English reluctance to sell-sell-sell would probably play as arrogance or complacency to a recruiter from an aggressively go-getter culture. Let the Games begin!

Exit Tangent now. Do not pass Gravitas. Collect Jargon.)

...As I was saying, Habibi regularly receives emailed CVs (or biodata!) couched in extraordinary language, much of it mishspooled. I've already dissed goal statements (In the tangent. If you skipped it - sorry!), but let me get to what I'm calling dynamic jargon.

I have two sections entitled 'Responsibilities' and 'Achievements'. Fine. So I'm responsible for this, that and the other, and have achieved the other, that and this. Yes? No!

But it's true!

Yes, but it doesn't convey your energy, your focus, your achievements!

......m-my ..responsibilities....?

Such as?

Erm, administration, stocktaking, bareback-riding, disembowelment..

No, no, no! You must be more dynamic!


#$(%^&!!!! (sigh) Have you considered - enabling? facilitating? maximisingoptimising?

I -


Actually I -



Inflitratingexculpatingcoruscatingmasticatingsyncopatingadumbrating! Calibrating! Amputating! Mutilating! Flagellating!


- I beg your..... Where did she go?

So, dynamic jargon. I know it's just the current convention, and presumably it indicates some level of professionalism to HR personnel awash in a CV sea, but I suspect that it started off as someone's strategy to make sure she stood out from the crowd. Now we all have to do it!

By the way, I shamelessly cannibalised fairly typical advice from a variety of sites. The one I recommend, and include some terms from, is They are not to blame for the way I used said terms: I really did need guidance on how to put a CV together, and theirs is the most straightforward and thorough of the bunch. There are some typos here and there, but the advice is realistic, and free, and they have templates in different styles and for different purposes. Don't hold any of the above against them!



Deepak Morris said...

I intended to post a comment.

I wonder if I have.

I shot an arrow into space...

MamaDuck said...

Er.... Mama Duck calling Planet Deepak.....Come in Deepak...?
Didn't you say something about coming back to visit sometime soon? Make it quick?!