The Mirror’s Cracked, Mr. Cain

I am amazed by the insensitivity of politicians and the media right now. I can’t imagine anybody saying that 14 million unemployed and another 12 million under-employed people have chosen to be without a job, or are working in a job making significantly less than what their skills and experience are worth, yet that is the new proclamation from republican front-runner-of-the-week Herman Cain.         

             How did you find your job? I was lucky. Can you help me? I’ll try. Do you know someone who’s hiring?  No, but let me see your resume and we’ll look.  Experience is a tricky devil. It is the big fish in the bottom of the lake that just taunts you.

             If you put the year that you graduated college, the employer can figure out how old you are simply enough. 22 + the number of years since graduation = roughly your age. Not fair, but probably fairly accurate for most of us.

             So the question becomes, can you tweak your resume to disguise your age? This is a delicate balancing act. In this recession, some job coaches are saying it is ok to cut your resume off at ten years’ experience. That is fine, but what about the year you finished your education? Listing it and then only the last ten years of work may create a gap between graduation and your oldest job. So, to avoid that gap, some leave out their graduation year. My friend was worried that if she put down all her job experience, she would price herself out of a job.

             I have toyed with both resumes. I am not comfortable with creating a gray area. Seems a bit like telling someone the good fishing hole is over by the overhanging branch when it is really by the big rock. In the end, the employer will figure it out and you then have to deal with the consequences of the little box on the application that says if you lie on an application, you can be fired.

             Younger job searchers have the problem in reverse. Not many employers want someone fresh out of school with no job experience. Some are tempted to add extras or leave off dates. Same advice – be careful how you fudge, it will come back to haunt you.

             The career-changer has a different set of challenges. He has to prove his skills and feels as if he has to justify his decision in every cover letter. The trick here is to make your resume reflect the skills you need to effectively do the job you are seeking. In other words, the fabulous deal you got with the Pepsi distributor for your job as buyer may not mean much to someone who is looking for a personal assistant. The trick is to list the great deal as a negotiation skill. After all, it did take some sweet talking to get a case of soda for $4.50!

             The final word on experience is truth. The old axiom of truth in advertising pays off. As the politicians will tell you, spin is everything. The trick is to list the truth in terms that the prospective employer values. The big fish can’t resist the perfect bait.

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Posted on October 22, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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