My serenity prayer

Did you know that Jesus’ most frequent words of advice were “fear not”?

That’s according to Quentin J. Schultze, author of an informative and interesting guide to resume writing that I skimmed before sending my own post-layoff CV into the world. (Things I did differently because of the book included introducing myself with a one-line zinger: “Writing and editing professional with 20 years experience in busy national newsrooms”; and starting off with a listing of my skills highlights, where once I would have started off with experience or education). I’ve had two direct responses to my CV — a former colleague advised me to take the “conversational tone” out and use bullet points instead, advice I’ve taken under advisement; and another contact, a former CEO and former journalist, who said, “I LOVE your CV. It’s clear, it says what you do, and no weasel words.” (I paraphrase everything after “I LOVE your CV” — I was a little taken aback.)

Anyway, Schultze’s point when he quotes Jesus is to say that once you’ve sent your resume out into the world, you can’t worry about it. It is what it is, and you can’t change it. There’s no point worrying that you’ve got the wrong degree, or the wrong kinds of experience for the job in question, or that you’ve highlighted non-professional experience to sell yourself to employers.

And one reason why you shouldn’t be sweating that stuff is if you’d done the work beforehand, ya great freakin’ idiot, all those concerns could have, should have, would have already been addressed. Even if you’re not quivering in your shoes about your resume (and seriously, who among us doesn’t fret a little bit about whether we’re saying the right things, or  have the most up-to-date style) you should show it around a bit. For proofreading purposes if nothing else (because Spellcheck and autocorrect sometimes create more problems than they solve). Show it to people in your industry, to friends and colleagues who can be trusted to tell you the truth and not just blow smoke about how it’s perfect and you’re perfect and the world is sunny and bright and la la la la la.

This isn’t Schulte’s script here, it’s mine. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — other people often have insights into your abilities that you simply don’t see. And people in other industries can be helpful too. I once gave my resume to a friend with a PhD in English literature who was working in a government department and she turned it into something I didn’t recognize — I was creating solutions and impacting outcomes all over the place (I like to believe that the language she used hurt her as much as it hurt me). The point is she used words I wouldn’t have used to sell myself — and the resume was far more effective for that. I’m straightforward — I do this, I do that — and I’m no salesperson. Are you?

There’s really no excuse for having a bad resume, after all (and I’ll admit I prefer the Latin Curriculum Vitae here not because it sounds more scholarly, but because I don’t know how to do the accent aigu on the Es and it pains me to be writing resume). There are resources for free in the library in the form of books — and sometimes in the form of seminars; there’s a ton of information online (pick and choose here, as with all online resources); and there are job-finding agencies and groups that live, I say LIVE to help you out. It’s their whole reason to exist. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, that will hold you back more than a bad resume. CV. Whatever.

And in times of trouble, repeat this to yourself: “Grant me the serenity to accept that these are the skills I have to put on my CV; the courage to put myself forward as a competent professional; and the wisdom to know when I’m being too humble.”