Getting the job

I am dedicated, determined, innovative, creative, hardworking, organised, critical, passionate.

 

So proclaims my CV, and the CV of every other person of my generation who finds themselves unemployed, disillusioned and, frankly, a bit confused. After all, we are the things that we claim. Believe it or not, the media portrayal of lazy, lethargic students unwilling to make more the slightest of efforts is a misleading one. We want to make the effort. We want to prove ourselves. We want to work.

 

The problem is that no one will give us a chance. I can’t blame them; reading CV after CV, page after page of dull, cliched, meaningless dross, must be tiring. It must be frustrating, to try to try and extract some semblance of personality from that mess. CVs want to simplify you, to boil you down into your education, a career aim and a list of “key skills”. The inevitable consequence of this simplification is that everything becomes hazy and indistinct. Employers have no idea who to pick because everyone seems to be so similar that you can’t help but wonder if every graduate is made in a manufacturing line, emerging with that factory fresh smell of self assurance and just a little too much cologne.

 

As a writer, the issue seems obvious. After all, every CV breaks the fundamental rule of good writing: show, don’t tell. It forces you to list attributes and experiences as if they were self explanatory and full developed when the truth is that this vague corporate speak does nothing to promote you, if anything it lessens you. What does hardworking mean? Are you going to work hard 9-5 but not a minute more? Are you going to always try your best? Are you going to stay until 2am when there’s a deadline to be met. Are you prepared to live in a makeshift den under your desk, eating pot noodles and worshipping the kettle?  Nobody knows but you.

 

Something about that should be setting the alarm bells ringing in your head. Language is the great communicator, it’s sole purpose is to help you understand others. A CV is filled with the stuff, in fact its totally reliant on it, yet it barely says a thing about you. Even Webster gets it wrong, limiting a CV to “a short account of one’s career and qualifications prepared typically by an applicant for a position”.  Again, we’re missing the person behind the statistics, the ghost inside the machine, which is a little strange seeing as that’s one of the most important parts of any prospective employee. Dedication, integrity, passion, drive and vision aren’t qualifications, they’re traits. Listing your friendly demeanour as a key  skill along with typing speed and Office proficiency implies that it’s something that you’ve learnt. When you’re trying to distinguish yourself from the robotic ranks of other seemingly silicon graduates, your personality shouldn’t really be listed along with your capacity for other mechanised functions. You can be taught to type faster, you can be taught to write in the correct grammatical phrasing, you can even be taught how to . What you can’t be taught is the things that give you the capacity to learn and it’s these fundamentals that define your suitability for a job and you as a employee.

 

How on Earth can we make an employer sit up and take notice of us and everything we can offer them if we’re confined to the tyranny of the Latin headed cage? Be different. Be diverse. Make your  CV stand out in ways that go far beyond fonts and formatting. Do whatever you can to stand out. If you say that you’re bright, creative and unique prove it by doing something out of the ordinary and keep at it until they notice you. You’re not a robot. You’re not the manufactured spec that appears on your paperwork. You are a person, and the key to getting yourself out of the grey ranks of the unemployed is to show the world just who you are.

 

The problem is that no one will give us a chance. I can’t blame them; reading CV after CV, page after page of dull, cliched, meaningless dross, must be tiring. It must be frustrating, to try to try and extract some semblance of personality from that mess. CVs want to simplify you, to boil you down into your education, a career aim and a list of “key skills”. The inevitable consequence of this simplification is that everything becomes hazy and indistinct. Employers have no idea who to pick because everyone seems to be so similar that you can’t help but wonder if every graduate is made in a manufacturing line, emerging with that factory fresh smell of self assurance and just a little too much cologne.

As a writer, the issue seems obvious. After all, every CV breaks the fundamental rule of good writing: show, don’t tell. It forces you to list attributes and experiences as if they were self explanatory and full developed when the truth is that this vague corporate speak does nothing to promote you, if anything it lessens you. What does hardworking mean? Are you going to work hard 9-5 but not a minute more? Are you going to always try your best? Are you going to stay until 2am when there’s a deadline to be met. Are you prepared to live in a makeshift den under your desk, eating pot noodles and worshipping the kettle?  Nobody knows but you.

Something about that should be setting the alarm bells ringing in your head. Language is the great communicator, it’s sole purpose is to help you understand others. A CV is filled with the stuff, in fact its totally reliant on it, yet it barely says a thing about you. Even Webster gets it wrong, limiting a CV to “a short account of one’s career and qualifications prepared typically by an applicant for a position”.  Again, we’re missing the person behind the statistics, the ghost inside the machine, which is a little strange seeing as that’s one of the most important parts of any prospective employee. Dedication, integrity, passion, drive and vision aren’t qualifications, they’re traits. Listing your friendly demeanour as a key  skill along with typing speed and Office proficiency implies that it’s something that you’ve learnt. When you’re trying to distinguish yourself from the robotic ranks of other seemingly silicon graduates, your personality shouldn’t really be listed along with your capacity for other mechanised functions. You can be taught to type faster, you can be taught to write in the correct grammatical phrasing, you can even be taught how to . What you can’t be taught is the things that give you the capacity to learn and it’s these fundamentals that define your suitability for a job and you as a employee.

 

I am dedicated, determined, innovative, creative, hardworking, organised, critical, passionate.

So proclaims my CV, and the CV of every other person of my generation who finds themselves unemployed, disillusioned and, frankly, a bit confused. After all, we are the things that we claim. Believe it or not, the media portrayal of lazy, lethargic students unwilling to make more the slightest of efforts is a misleading one. We want to make the effort. We want to prove ourselves. We want to work.

How on Earth can we make an employer sit up and take notice of us and everything we can offer them if we’re confined to the tyranny of the Latin headed cage? Be different. Be diverse. Make your  CV stand out in ways that go far beyond fonts and formatting. Do whatever you can to stand out. If you say that you’re bright, creative and unique prove it by doing something out of the ordinary and keep at it until they notice you. You’re not a robot. You’re not the manufactured spec that appears on your paperwork. You are a person, and the key to getting yourself out of the grey ranks of the unemployed is to show the world just who you are.


May 17, 2018

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