Saturday, June 29, 2019

Your Resume and You

It is so nice not to have to worry about this shit anymore....

Being retired rocks.  Well, it rocks if you saved at least two dollars in your IRA and can live comfortably, if not extravagantly on what you've saved.  Of course, your impending death puts everything in perspective at this point.  But oddly enough that is a calming experience.  It puts your life in focus, and makes you realize so much of what you obsessed about in life before - your credit rating, owning a home, your career, status, your education, your debts, and so on and so forth, are really just window dressing in the greater scheme of things.   Once you are comfortable and don't have to work, a lot of shit comes into really sharp focus.

There was a recent click-bait listical online about "credit nightmares" and it was almost comical to read - and sad, too.  In every instance, the "victim" in the article was a victim of their own malfeasance - taking out payday loans for example, and paying over twenty grand of interest on a few hundred bucks in principal.  Or the guy who got all pissed off when Bank of America lowered his credit limit on his credit cards by $30,000.   You read that right, he didn't have a credit limit of $30,000 - which would be obscene - but had it lowered by that amount.   No wonder Americans have so much troubles - they bring it on themselves.  It is funny to read these stories (and sad, too - you do feel sorry for these folks, even if most of their troubles, like mine, were self-induced).  But it also seems so distant.  I have no need for debt in my life now, and my credit score is consistently over 800, which is ironic, as I have no need to borrow money - and no means of paying it back!

A reader writes:
I got a well paying job after I graduated. I hated it, so I worked for a couple of years and then quit. I had hefty savings as I didn't spend much money. I thought I would be able to find a job I liked,but somehow that didn't  happen. 
I managed to goof off for 3 years and my savings are coming to an end,so now I guess I have to go to my first job. 
How do I explain the three year gap in my CV? I am around 29 now, got my first job at 24.
I am not sure if I am being trolled here or not.  But it intrigued me.  I am so glad not to have to deal with this sort of thing.  First of all,  I don't give advice, so I am not sure why he is asking me, who has been out of the work force for decades now, about resume advice.  What I knew about the subject is decades old.  I am not sure people even write resumes or Curriculum Vitae (CV) so much as they upload this crap onto or Linked-In or whatever.

So glad I don't have to deal with this shit.  No, really.

The first thing, of course, is to put your resume dates by year.  You don't have to break things out by month or date.  This may make the lapse seem shorter.  But you should be prepared, if you can get a job interview (and the market is getting a little tighter as the economy contracts) to answer questions from interviewers as to what you did for those three years.

If you spent the time living with your parents' basement, playing video games, downloading porn and masturbating and collecting swords, well, you are going to have a bit of trouble.   On the other hand, if you did as some young friends of mine did, and hitchhiked around the world and expanded your horizons in a "gap year" maybe you can pitch that as an effort to "find yourself" and figure out what it is you want to do with your life.  And while meditating in a temple in Kathmandu, you decided what you wanted most was to be an assistant purchasing agent for WillGrowCo, or at least that's what you tell the HR guy at WillGrowCo, if you get an interview.

But situations like this illustrate how the early years are so important.   Employers are looking for people who want to work and are self-starters.  And if you quit your job after a couple of years to "goof off" for three, the employer might think, rightfully, that you may repeat the same pattern - even though it is unlikely.

You see, the human brain doesn't stop developing until your mid-20's.   Age 25 or thereabouts is usually when people start to wake up and realize they are on their own in "adult life" and they need to get their shit together.  It was the age I stopped smoking pot and finished my EE degree.  Age 28 was when I stared law school.    Maybe by age 60, I will finally grow up - but I doubt it.

But the sad fact is, today you get judged by your actions a lot more harshly than I was at that age.   I mentioned my friends who hitchhiked around the world - twice - in their 20's.   They worked slacker jobs and saved up their money and quit and did what they wanted to do.  It all worked out for them in the end.  They both have good paying jobs, him a fireman, her a spokesman for the vegetarian society (!) and a house and two lovely kids.   So you can explain these gaps in employment and still get a job.

It all depends on what you did during those gaps - and how long they are.  Three years starts to get to be a little long.   But if you go by year instead of date, maybe you can make this look more like two, hopefully.

The other part of the problem is that job skills get stale.  Working in a good-paying job doesn't necessarily begin and end with punching in the morning and out at night.   You often have to keep your skills current, and also make and maintain contacts in the industry.  In Engineering and the Law, this is particularly true.   Technology advances, and you have to keep up.  Laws and regulations change, and you have to keep up.

I am not sure what to say to this young person, other than, yes, it will suck trying to find a job.  Your resume may end up in the trash without a second look not only because of the three-year gap, but because of the limited work experience to begin with.   But if you keep trying, you will get a call-back from somewhere, and if you can pitch it right, you may be able to posture this three-year gap as some sort of learning experience, or at least make it look less like a slacker move.

A job is not a right.  And you can't just walk away from a job and expect to pick it up, where you left off, years later.   Your youth is a time you should spend working, because let me tell you, it becomes damn hard as you get older, and eventually impossible.   Your skills get stale and it is harder to keep up with changes.   And if you are an employee, it is typical that by age 55 they show you the door - kicking you out to hire some 20-something for a lot less money.

And that's the good news for our reader.   Most job postings want younger people with "1-5 years experience" -  no less and certainly not more.  Once you have more experience than that, they can't afford to pay you.  Also, they wonder why you'd walk away from a job after five years - or were you fired?

So in contrast to that, two years' experience and three years off doesn't seem so bad.   You have a leg up on the 40-something trying to keep up and wanting twice your salary.   And you have a big leg up on the 50-something who isn't getting any callbacks.

Just keep applying, something will happen.  Or failing that, make a lateral career move to a related field.

Like I said, I am so glad I don't have to deal with this shit.  The prospect of a job interview makes my skin crawl.