Resumé Rehab

March 16th, 2015

treasure map web

I don’t have a resume. In fact, I haven’t had one for 20+ years, so how can I be sure I actually exist? Even before I was self-employed, my resume was spotty with some awkward gaps. Ten years as a stay-at-home mother. Another five going to college while a single mother. A degree and my first real job at age 33. A slow start with a meteoric rise with a publishing company. A brief stint with a software company. A bad breakup and an illogical move to a faraway state. Making ends meet as a liquor store clerk, glorified chambermaid in an inn, incompetent waitress and so on until I started the improbable venture of creating a magazine from scratch. When I was the publisher of my own magazine, I occasionally thought I should update my resume. Then I lost my old one and the dates of the various phases in my job history became hazy in my mind. Sometimes I would be asked to submit a bio, but rarely did I need to document all the ups, downs and dates of my so-called career path. The longer I went without one, the more I resisted it — until the thought of assembling one became almost painful. As if I would have to relive the hardscrabble years of single motherhood, the insecurity of being an older student in graduate school competing with kids from Harvard, Yale and Ivy-whatevers, the guilt of neglecting my kids while focusing on my shiny Big Job, the regret of relationships that never had wings, the constant self-doubt around people whose accomplishments far outweighed mine. I’ve always had the niggling feeling that I’ve cobbled together a life without benefit of schematics or instructions, and a resume only reinforces that. Now that I’m back to working part-time as a writer and consultant (whatever that is), it seems even more daunting to sit down and fill in the back story of Me. It would undoubtedly be reassuring to be able to look at a list of orderly career stages neatly dated and documented with action words (Created, Led, Developed, Initiated). A linear map of my life. Instead, I have a rambling story of work interrupted by dead ends and detours, rest stops and road-side attractions and long intervals of just being lost. It’s more akin to a kid’s treasure map or a visual resumé than an adult’s career bio, but I doubt the board seat I’d like to apply for would accept a CV drawn on a napkin with a crayon.

5 Responses to “Resumé Rehab”

  1. Joey Potter says:

    Wonderful essay. I have felt the same way about my resume. Now, with my retirement, it’s an historical document of a “professional” life. At least I haven’t had to “doctor” my experiences and live a life as a fame-whore (like a few people I know). Thanks for sharing this!!!

  2. Amey warder says:

    Yay! You are you and that is all you need to be. Anyone that spends time with you and reads what you write will
    Know what they are getting. An honest writer who makes everyone feel at home, when they read your stories or essays. Such fun to hear from you!

  3. Veronica says:

    There’s always a long pause when someone I’ve just met asks, “What do you do?”

    Everything. Nothing.Things that are important to me and meaningless to people I meet.

  4. Not Albertine says:

    Nikki~
    How you capture the realization that in this century, one is ‘naked’ without a resume.

    In New York, altrough I’m retired I still needed a resume to volunteer! I tried to dress-up the career one, but finally just threw it out and created a new Volunteer Resume.

    Yep, now my resume has only volunteer experience…nothing about my 30 year career. Proust does write about how the person you once were dies…and a new self emerges.

    “I was older then, I’m younger than that now.” Bobby D.

    Come visit!

  5. You have zero need for a resume. Your words, always wonderfully chosen, your lists, the way you notice details–these things tell everything that needs to be told about you as a writer, an editor, a creative!

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