Wednesday, July 27, 2016

More writing misery, plus a little spot of cheer from Frankie.

Unlike Cassandra, I'm not teaching a summer class, so for the time being I'm not obliged to read papers that start with "In today's modern world, ethics is a big problem" or " defines 'ethics' as 'moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior.'" or "Throughout history, mankind has considered ethics to be a big problem."

I am, however, the administrator of our online resume book. Students upload their resumes, and it is my duty (and pleasure! Really! At least most of the time!) to provide feedback and suggestions for revision, in order to maximize our students' chances of getting a seat in the brutal and bloody game of musical chairs that is the current job market. 

Well, yesterday I got a resume that was...amazing to behold. 
Five pages. Comic Sans MS font (yes, really) in two colors. An objectives statement that was 100% word salad. Clip art of flowers. 

I did not post the resume as written, but instead (because I care!) spent half my morning crafting a series of gently-worded suggestions for improvement, including a short list of recommended fonts and a customized objectives statement derived from a painstaking exegesis of the coherent portions of the resume.

Why? I don't know. Because I'm a sucker? 

The student immediately submitted a revised resume and already has two job interviews set up. 

She wrote back, "Thank you for your feed back however I honestly believe there isn't an exact structure to formulate a resume."

Okay, then. Best of luck with that. 

Now here's the tiny bit of cheer I promised in the title. My murder mystery, The Case of the Defunct Adjunct, will be free on Kindle worldwide July 27-29, along with over 40 other mystery, thriller, and suspense novels. And to the best of my knowledge, not one of them contains the phrase, "In today's modern world..."


  1. Wow. That's a bad résumé...but I think I can top it. I saw one--for an academic position, based on the context in which I glimpsed it--that's the absolute worst thing I've ever seen. This farce of a résumé
    * was photocopied, not laser-printed, and apparently on an old and blurry machine;
    * appeared on goldenrod paper;
    * included honest-to-god color clip art of flowers (the cut lines around the images were visible, and the flowers' color turned out various muddy shades of black);
    * featured an email address (likewise cut-and-pasted onto the document, and at a jaunty angle) that proudly advertised the candidate as an out-and-proud, non-cisgender member of an ethnic minority.

    It's the absolute worst, most hideously inappropriate travesty of a résumé I've ever seen. It was awesome.

  2. Frankie, were you tempted to ask her why she uploaded her resume for feedback, then? Or just raise your hands and let her perfidy ramify throughout her life?

    Mindbender, I'm of the opinion that if there's something enemies might want to use against you, it's best to be up front about it from the earliest moment of the job search. Thus an email address that identifies you as a member of various minorities is not necessarily inappropriate (besides, often departments are searching for diversity, and that's a subtle cue.) I hope we are past the days when identifying yourself as non-straight was viewed as sharing info about your sex life, and thus inappropriate for the workplace (although I guess if the email address involved whips and chains or any words found on urbandictionary, I'd change my mind, however much the parties involved want to claim that has to do with orientation.)

    The rest of your list, though---!

    1. I thought of the issues you mention in relation to the email address. The problem, of course, is the colored paper (a phenomenon I've heard of, but only via "don't do this; it doesn't work" lists) and clip art and generally bad formatting of the resume are going to make it really easy to dismiss any complaints of discrimination.

      I'd think that using a blandly professional email address and hinting toward minority identity via entries on the publications, professional-association, and/or, if appropriate, university/community service sections of the resume, or even a carefully-worded sentence or two in the cover letter (probably pitched toward the ability to work with diverse student populations) would be a wiser way to accomplish that purpose.

      Mind you, I have no experience with this, since I'm white, straight, and cisgender (in fact, I occasionally have the opposite problem: I study the literature of a particular racial/ethnic group, and my last name is not uncommon among members of that group, so people sometimes assume I'm a member, too. I've found no way to avoid that confusion without really ridiculous prose acrobatics in the cover letter, but I always fill out the AA/EOE form promptly. And of course these days anyone can google their way to my faculty page, which includes a picture).

    2. @Curly Charlan -- I get your point, absolutely, and I agree. This candidates's email address, however, was something quite far beyond the pale, both in its actual wording and in the candidate's fit for the job.

      In the interests of maintaining plausible anonymity, I shan't give specifics, but the job was in a small field that is pretty darned non-cisgender friendly (at the grad level, there's a big emphasis on social justice; a bunch of the heavy hitters are gay guys; one of my profs was transgender) yet highly values professionalism in the corporate workplace. The email address was so self-revelatory that it virtually screamed, "I have no idea what this job is really about, and I am a bad, bad fit."

  3. And somewhere someone is shaking their head and saying "how could they let her post that?" (maybe because, as a student in the program, she has the right of access to certain tools, and some horses can be led to potable water, and have it pointed out, and still insist on drinking from the stream emanating from under the latrine?)

    And thanks for the tip. I think I actually bought the defunct adjunct, but I'll have to check (and check out the rest, and catch up with my leisure reading. I suppose it's good that I have a lot of fun things available to read that I want to read, but the backlog is getting a bit ridiculous, which suggests that this summer has not contained enough of the activities we associate, perhaps nostalgically/unrealistically, with summer).