The New American Dream

My partner just took a job offer. Three years. Six figures. Only one small detail; the job is in Ohio. We live in Phoenix.

We’re lucky. We rent so no worries about selling a house. But I’m staying in Phoenix, because I have a job here. When we’re apart we Skype every night. We fly on weekends to see each other when we can. If something should happen, I can downsize easily, even move to Ohio if I need to. If I find a job somewhere else, I know what would need to go into storage and what I could take with me. Cars are paid for. We buy on the cheap. Some credit card debt, but nothing that is crippling. And if we have to find a new place to call our base camp, then that’s where we’ll touch down for a while. Friends shake their heads and wonder how we stay together. It sucks in many ways to be apart by a few thousand miles and three time zones. But in these times, you go where the job is. Beats unemployment.

Not too long ago, the American Dream would have entailed finding a long term job, buying a house and staying in one place together until retirement or death. Not anymore. With the economy today, a technical nomad is the dream. You go where the job is, be it Ohio, West Virginia, or Abu Dhabi. The main questions are “How Much”, “How Long” and “Can I stomach the local food”. It is a life designed for only a few; mainly because only a few are crazy enough to call it life. High risk, high reward.

It has its advantages. Travel opens you up to new people, new experiences, although I do not recommend sleeping in airports, especially in countries where the politics are shaky. Rebels always tend to want to take the airports first. But beyond that, you start to grow an international network of acquaintances and friends who understand that home is where you currently hang your hat. Eventually, even though your friends are underwater on their mortgages and the local job market sucks major donkey balls, you start to wonder if you have it backwards. You come home between contracts, look around and then, when the next contract comes up, you ask the three questions and you’re back out there chasing it all over again. High risk, high reward. Beats unemployment.

The Resume: Spring Collection

The time has come to face the facts. I came to a realization a couple of weekends ago watching CNN. Specifically, the conversation was about the job market and finding that “dream job” that everyone talks about but very few apparently have. And so the conversation boiled down to that old standby, the resume. Listening to these people going back and forth over what needs to be seen and what is a faux-pas of epic proportions, it hit me that really they were talking about fashion; that the resume is basically what one’s style is, not one’s substance. And I came to the conclusion: much like Anna Wintour at Vogue every now and then proclaims that Brown is the new Black, I am proclaiming the heresy of heresies: the resume is dead.

You read it here, folks. The resume is dead. Gone. Not ever to return. Not even a “long live the resume”. Finished. Ka-put, dahling.

Why, you may ask? Let’s looks at this in the cold light of day, shall we? If you look at all the “tips” you hear about writing the “perfect” resume, you’ll drive yourself over the cliff. From all the tips you hear, the perfect resume is tailored specifically to the exact position you are going for, so that it reflects the fact that you are the person for that position. It must be one page long, covers everything you ever did in twelve point type, has every keyword a recruiter will ever use and never, never looks too crowded or too sparse. Also there must be space for someone to take notes.

In addition, if you are changing professions, a functional resume is great as long as it is in chronological order. You also need to let any future employer know exactly what you have done, but since your work responsibilities always fit underneath that job title perfectly, mentioning what those responsibilities actually were is redundant and therefore should not be included. You need to boldly list your accomplishments, but do so in a way that does not look like you’re bragging.

This would be all well and good, except it really doesn’t matter anyway, because all those resumes that are handed out at job fairs and the like are basically thrown into the trash once they make it back to the HR office. Well, that is if someone even accepts them. “You’ll need to visit our website” is the latest catchphrase that basically means “Keep that filthy piece of paper out of my face”. And what does that website ask you to do? Put your resume in their format. So there you are, rewriting your resume yet again in a format that does not allow you to do any of the things the talking heads on CNN just told you to do.

I think I had come to this realization some time ago, when a recruiter basically took my resume and immediately asked where the keywords were? I replied that the systems I have used are at the top of the page. “No, no.” she said, “You need to list keywords for every single job you have on the resume, even if it seems redundant. Hiring managers are only looking at keywords these days.” I wanted to tell her that any hiring manager that makes decisions based on single words and not the substance should be looking a job themselves, but decided against it.  I glad that I held off, because after some research, she was right.

There is an interesting white paper from The Sierra Group, entitled “The Traditional Resume is Dead: The Technology Behind Recruiting”. In four pages, they point out that recruiting has become an assembly line process for most employers, and that the practice of resume blasting has increased the load of resumes greatly for companies. The result? You are never going to stand out no matter how good your resume is. Given this economy, the chances of them finding you through the noise of useless resumes are greatly reduced. Remember, Human Resource Managers are more interested in finding the best candidate or candidates, not just those who meet some minimum standard of a screening process.

So, with all these barriers to the traditional resume, how do you break through? Networking sites like LinkedIn are the main way that people are reaching each other. I have known people who basically do nothing but find out who the best recruiters are for their area, link to them and then cyber stalk them. Creepy for some, but, some folks are that desperate.

Other than that, the answer to the question of breaking through to get that job varies from person to person. One thing is certain. The old ways of job searching are long gone. Just like Brown is the new Black. At least for this season.

The Handy Dandy Mission Statement

This is a reboot of sorts.  Before, this blog was more of a snarky review of everything technology related.  Now, it is more of a review of technology, methods and madness that the IT community faces on a daily basis.  OK, there will be some snark, but the bulk of this will be attempted with a semi-straight face.

Mainly, I hope to show the difference between the hype and the reality of technology.  There is always that magic moment when people realize that brand new technology X will not solve all their problems.  It doesn’t mean that the technology is bad or poor or evil, it simply means that X does not do what people originally thought it would do.  Every company’s needs are slightly different .  The phrase “Your Mileage May Vary” is key.

So, here we go again.