“I chase stray turkeys, catch them and bring them back to their pens,” he answered in the most matter-of-fact way to one of my interview questions. I hired him immediately to assemble and repair bikes, a job he then held for four years, even through the winter. I figured anyone willing to chase down turkeys was willing to learn to do pretty much anything else.
Years later, when I was looking for an artist with some practical skills, I interviewed a young, freshly-minted BFA and asked him what the most interesting thing about him was.
“I worked on a pig farm for six months.”
I hired him on the spot.
Every December, I get the dreaded email from accounting reminding me that the end of the year is coming up, books will be closing, taxes will look like this, etc. Every year, I get that longing to make all of this someone else’s problem by just getting a job.
This year, the PPACA made December worse as I agonized over the health care plan choices, the tax advantages over doing this one versus that, comparing the seemingly endless choices of Gold, Silver…blah, blah, blah.
“If I got a job, all these worries would go away,” I tell myself.
I pull up my usual job-seeking tools; Indeed, LinkedIn, twitter, my résumé… I sigh deeply as I realize that there are many more choices, checkboxes, switches and levers as choosing a healthcare plan. I’m a very talented, smart — dare I say funny — guy with a lot of skills, experiences and a deep body of work. Why are companies not lining up, calling ME? Why do I have to go begging them to interview me, much less hire me?
I start with my résumé. Since I haven’t updated it since last year, I add a few things, edit this line and that so it looks like every other résumé an HR person will see for every other job listing. It is organized into skills, accomplishments, job history, education and awards. It has all the keywords that will be scanned into the ATS (Applicant Tracking System.) I know all this stuff as I used to work in Human Resources.
I know the problem; I look like everyone else. I don’t jump out in any way. But I also know that any wacky way to set myself apart from the pack on my résumé will be met with distain or indifference by the HR department. They don’t like “different” as it indicates an employee who would be hard to manage (guilty!)
I also know my résumé will most likely be scanned into an ATS which ignores formatting and reduces me to a bucket of matchable keywords. I still gotta try.
Since I’m not unemployed and don’t have to land a job (all serious offers will still be considered, though) I have very little to lose by trying some unconventional stuff. I’m experimenting with a tl;dr line at the end of my résumé that sums up the most interesting thing about me.
No replies have yet come back with a burning desire to give me scads of money to do little to nothing every day. A few colleagues have suggested — after taking a long pause — I perhaps work my network a little more and my résumé less.
So far, I have responded to twenty-two job listings, all with my tl;dr résumé and a custom cover letter as they requested. Nineteen days into the new year, I have gotten no replies. I’m still hoping.
*tl;dr = Too Long; Didn’t Read