I type, I do shorthand

I have the worst time putting together a Curriculum Vitae. It wasn’t so bad back when I was a secretary — fudge a little on typing words-per-minute; fudge a bit more on the shorthand words-per-minute — I typed, I did shorthand, I filed, I answered the phone. I did what secretaries “do”. There was a job description that anybody could understand. And you didn’t mention, if you expected a good reference, that the boss would frequently toss you his notes and say, “Here, put that into English, would ya?” because he’d realized fairly quickly which of you was the better writer.
A new career and a few decades later, and simply saying what you do “I write, I edit,” — the bare truth — won’t turn any hiring manager’s head, even if the job to be filled is writer/editor. They want to know how you impacted outcomes, or made the company money, or moved things forward or — well, I try to ignore the jargon so I can’t even think what it might be, but they want you to tell them just how fabulous you are in 500 words of jargon or more.
My lack of jargon isn’t my biggest impediment to a truly spectacular CV, however. The hurdle I have to overcome is my inability to lie, and here I’m like most women.
A recent study, reported on in the Harvard Business Review (and which I wrote about  recently) found that while men and women are both prepared to lie to get a job, men will stretch the truth even farther than women. The study was looking at whether there are any reasons beyond mere gender to explain men’s greater success in the working world. It’s not all lies, of course — it’s exaggeration, the way I used to exaggerate my typing and shorthand skills. I figured that my early inability to meet speed expectations would be put down to nerves and after that, they would either become used to Kim-speed, or would be so impressed by the rest of my performance that 55 WPM would seem fine.
Other studies have shown that most people will lie at least a little in order to get a job, but even as my job description has become more vague, my recounting of it has become more truthful.
That’s because I always assume I’ll be found out if I lie about the big stuff. While I blame that inhibition in myself on having older brothers who never let me get away with anything, I think there’s also a certain amount of social conditioning that discourages lying in women while rewarding men for talking big — women aren’t known for their fish tales, after all.
Still, it makes me wonder what my CV would look like if it were written by a man, and I wonder whether going to a resume expert would make much of a difference. Would I be impacting outcomes all over the place? Gotta say, it sounds painful…

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Looking for work

3 responses to “I type, I do shorthand

  1. alison p-h

    Great post!

  2. Kirsten

    This blog is looking damn fine.