1.25.2008

pragmatism vs the human resources dept

Recently it came time for the age old cycle of cubicles to begin at the great corporate offices of my square job. I observed its passing by performing the traditional scrounging up of that personal documents directory and dusting off the old resume file as an offering to the wise and enlightened souls in that holiest of enclaves, the Human Resources Department. Who among us can know what judgement they may pass on it? Assuming it gets whatever approval it is they've decided it needs before the department I apply to gets to read it, there may be a chance the new gig could pan out. But the hushed whispers by the copier and flurries of email as yet offer no indication of who will go ... and who will stay.

In the meantime I'm trying to bring my self sales pitch up to date with current projects and relevant "truths" about my go-to attitude and never die work ethic. I tend to practice an extremely utilitarian resume regimen, partially due to my pragmatic nature, and partially due to my strong distaste for word processors of any kind. Often I store my resume as nothing more than plain text or in rare cases I'll convert to rich text if needed. I firmly believe in the whole job courting process as a two way street, with both job seeker and interviewer testing and evaluating each others fitness and qualification; and it begins with the resume.

An incident just outside my office last summer helped me reach this way of thinking in a round about way. I was walking back from lunch with some co-workers and we were loudly bitching about some bit of ofiice stupidity and as we passed through groups of fellow cubers one of my friends let a few not so subtle f-bombs fly catching the attention of some nearby do-gooder who decided to address the issue. He walked up and said casually "You may want to watch what you say out here, you never know who some of these folks might be. Could be executives, or someone in a position to give you a job one day." Something occurred to me then that sent him away with a foul look though. I said, "If someone decides they'd rather not hire me because I throw the occasional 'fuck' around when I'm angry, I'd really rather not work for that person."

The same holds true for the flashy / eye-catching (but still professional of course) resume theories. In some fields such as design, marketing, or the arts I can see an argument for it, but then perhaps a portfolio would be the more appropriate showcase? However in the technology industry I expect to work for someone with an eye for details, a respect for efficiency, and a keen sense of their staff's abilities. If some snappy fonts and a dusting of power words are all it takes to sway your judgement of me, I doubt you and I will work well together. Better for both of us to just move along.

The other theory I often hear regurgitated without thought or personal insight is that a potential resume reviewer may have a great many applicants to asses, and some moderate flair to draw their eyes to your best qualities helps them to make a quick and favorable decision about you over others. Now my pragmatic nature abhors time wasted, mine or otherwise; but is it really so unreasonable to expect someone who's hiring new staff as part of their chosen profession to not go about it half assed? If I said in an interview that I hadn't fully read the job description I was applying for, but the bullet points really caught my eye what would that say to the interviewer?

I'm sorry but if I'm expected me to work under the direction of someone who simply can't be bothered to examine all the relevant facts before making a key business decision I can all but guarantee that I will not only be unhappy working with them, its very likely they'll soon be hiring unqualified or incompetent individuals as my coworkers as well. Pretty shortly I'd be right back at square one, dusting off the resume and telling the "truth" all over again.
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