Tag Archives: career

If We Were Honest on Resumes

Simon Cowell used to say it on American Idol,  “If I’m being honest . . .”  then he would insult the very being of some wannabe pop star.

Sometimes, honesty hurts.  Consequently,  in decent society (and by decent society I mean not reality TV)  we make nice-nice  while expressing our opinions of others to avoid causing them emotional injury.  Other times we choose not to be honest about ourselves to avoid the appearance of  being (gasp) boring.   We lie, omit information or engage in puffery (ha! I got the word “puffery” in a post) so that we seem fun and important.     It’s expected, really.  It’s the secret of success.

I once had a job where I had to screen  law school students for professional positions.   My best work friend and I used to love reading through their resumes and laughing at the  obligatory “Hobbies and Interests” section, you know,  that last part of the resume when candidates try to make themselves sound well-rounded and  interesting, giving the interviewer something to talk about other than grade point averages.   Call me cynical, but I never believed even  half of it.   My friend and I would sit back with the pile of resumes, go straight to the “Hobbies and Interests” section, and read between the lines to reveal what we thought could be  the, well  . . . truth.

We had a system:

  • Avid sports fan =  Watches TV –ESPN, all the time
  • Enjoys hiking and exploring the outdoors = Owns a bicycle but not a car,  doesn’t shower on weekends
  • Crafting, knitting and scrap booking = Lies — and often
  • Dancing and spending time with friends = Possibly a slut (probably knows Avid Sports Fan, above– from the bar)   

It’s not that there is anything wrong with how people actually pass their time, we just can’t put it on our resumes.  So  my friend and I  amused ourselves by trying to  crack the code.

If  job candidates were being honest, the hobbies and interest section on resumes would  state things like:

  • I watch TV from the minute I get home until I go to bed.
  • I look  for split ends; I hate my hair.
  • Electronic stalking.
  • Hair removal, ‘nuf said.
  • I like to have staring contests with my dog.
  • I spy on my neighbors.
  • Shopping.   I look nice, don’t I?
  • I meet strangers in public places, aka — online dating.
  • Plus the ever popular,  “Social Media” for six  hours a day —  usually while watching TV or at work.  (Readers say, “Amen.” )

If applicants were being honest, maybe they’d omit the “Hobbies and Interests” section entirely  (I always did, but I’m a rebel) .

They could simply tell the interviewer:

I need a job so I’ll have some money to buy equipment for a real hobby but have  no time to actually do it.

And wouldn’t it be refreshing if a stellar candidate  just said:

Look, I have a 3.9 GPA. I’m President of every club at school.   I study all the time.  When I’m not studying or at some meeting, I’m drinking, eating or sleeping.  If I’m lucky I do my laundry.   My primary interest is maintaining my GPA and getting this job so that I can make a lot of money.   Then maybe I’ll buy a boat or something and can put sailing on my resume, but I won’t need a resume then, because I’ll have your job  — if I’m being honest.

For a hilarious example of an honest interviewee, check out the movie  “Office Space.”

In Office Space, Peter tells the Bobs:

“Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I’m working.  I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.” 

I love Office Space, but I digress . . .

And by the way, as I write this, I’m not doing a damn thing, . . . except writing this.

Just Me With  . . .  Hobbies and Interests:   I enjoy reading, writing and meeting new people.  And by that I mean  . . .  Twitter. 

One of My Most Embarrassing Moments

I used to teach seminars  relating to discrimination in the workplace, specifically, sexual harassment.   You know, those annoying people brought in to identify improper workplace behavior and talk about how to respond, etc.

Well, one fine Spring I was sent to a company to teach a series of these seminars.   I stood, mostly, in front of a class for three hours at a pop.  What was different about this time was that I was pregnant  — with twins.   You know how women “show” more quickly  with the second pregnancy?  Well, with twins it’s even faster.    However, I hadn’t told anyone at my job that I was pregnant — again.  One pregnancy was tolerated in my white shoe law firm, but two?   Oh no.

So I was trying to do the “pregnant professional woman hide your pregnancy” thing as long as possible.   I was about four months along, looked bigger, but mostly in the belly, hips and thighs.   There was one skirt suit  I could still wear if I didn’t button it.  It  was the  kind with a longish  jacket that required no blouse and  a matching  skirt just above the knees.   Professional, but not stuffy.   But, because of the pregnancy, it was tight.  Yeah, that skirt was screaming.

And I was tired.   I had a two hour commute to the location of this particular seminar and I was pregnant and bloated and  uncomfortable in my non-maternity clothes.  Plus, I couldn’t even complain to anybody because it was my big secret.

At the seminar I talked incessantly about the hostile work environment kind of sexual harassment where it’s not that someone is saying have sex with me to keep your job, but where the environment is sexually charged and makes an employee uncomfortable because of his/her gender.   You know, unwanted touching, dirty jokes, leering,  flashing, and I talked about how dressing provocatively could make co-workers  uncomfortable.   I  noted that sometimes bad behavior  is not  legally actionable harassment but there simply needs to be a conversation.  Often the offending party doesn’t even know he or she has made someone uncomfortable, I explained.   These required seminars can be a pain, but the important thing employees are supposed to get out of them is that they understand the law a bit,  along with the corporate policies, and most importantly, they know  what to do if there is a — situation.

The seminars went well, people stayed awake and were engaged.   I felt like crap, though. and was so, so very tired.   Any chance I got during  the program,  I would perch on a desk.

After the seminar, a woman came up to me to ask a question, or so I thought.   She really wanted to inform me that while I was up front discussing inappropriate behavior, and how people act and dress in ways at work that make others uncomfortable,

. . .  the whole class could see up my too tight skirt. 

(*sh*t, f*ck)

I played it off and said that this is exactly what I was talking about.  My “reveal”  was  accidental and I, of course,  did not mean to make anyone uncomfortable.  I  thanked her for coming forward and offered my apologies  if I offended her.   (By her demeanor, I clearly had offended her.)  She said that she thought I’d want to know since I was talking about all “that stuff.”

Epilogue:   Told work about my pregnancy when I got back.  Switched to maternity clothes immediately.

Just Me With . . . an unintentional crotch shot and the ability to laugh at myself.