Applying to the Wrong Job
There is a surefire way to tell if the job you are applying for is completely wrong for you. Totally foolproof. Simply check your resume for lies to yourself. If you have any of these, don’t bother turning it in to anyone. You’ll be miserable if you get the job.
I kid you not.
Here is a nice example of one of these lies, if you are confused. We’ll use my resume from a few years ago, back when I was still trapped in the office job cycle. It is important to keep in mind that at the time I was desperate for work and would have taken anything!
Objective: To gain experience in administrative support and financial planning with a promising company
Oh really? This is a blatant lie. I wrote this on my resume so I could get a job, not because it is what I wanted to do. In fact, this person sounds exactly like the opposite of who I really am. If I was telling the truth at the time, my objective section would have looked more like:
Objective: To make some cash while I begin looking for an escape route from any more tedious office jobs that I am sick to death of.
So this was my first lie. Already I was compromising who I really was in order to look good to my potential interviewer. I had already opened the door to a long, dark road leading to a dead end. Now check out some other lies:
Skills and Qualifications:
- Excellent visual display and presentation designer with knowledge of Photoshop, Bryce and Visio.
- Outgoing, flexible, engaging, and a strong problem solver
- Team player that also thrives on working independently
Stop right there. First off, I have no idea what a “visual display and presentation designer” is. Mostly likely it was my desperate but subconscious attempt at encouraging a potential employer to give me some form of creative work. On another matter, I don’t even know what I meant by “Bryce,” because I think they are a company. There is no program called “Bryce” that I’m aware of.
Next, I call myself “outgoing, flexible, engaging, and a strong problem solver.” Well, I’m happy to admit that I’m actually not that outgoing, especially at work. In the past I have kept to myself on the job and I am NOT engaging (I’d rather most people would just go away when I’m trying to concentrate!) So here is another example of me trying to put on a fake persona for a job.
Finally, I talk about being a “Team player who also thrives on working independently.” Wrong, wrong wrong. I am NOT a team player! Never have been and never will be. I find that when I work with others I just get frustrated. I like people but I don’t like brainstorming sessions with others. I have plenty of good ideas on my own and half the time I’m just frustrated by how working with others slows any real productivity down. For me, it’s a waste of time. (2013 Edit: I’m totally a team player now. Love working with others on projects. However, I am usually the leader of these initiatives 😉 )
I’m not even going to go on with my own example. You get the point.
Repeat the following after me: If I change my personality on my resume to get a certain job, I will have to become that personality. After awhile, I will begin to stop acting like my true self, and I will be chasing someone else’s goals instead of my own. This process will make me miserable and hate my job.
It’s totally logical. First you lie to your potential employer, then you put on an act until you can’t stand it anymore. It’s a vicious cycle. The only way out is to be honest with what you want. Your job search may be far more restrictive, but I guarantee you that the potential results will be far more closely aligned with who you are.
As a good practice, write your REAL resume, as if no employer would ever see it. Write it out in its entirety, complete with education, skills, objectives and past job history sections. Put down things you are TRULY proud of both on and off your jobs. Write down things you are good at, even if they seem to have no logical basis or use in the real world. Talk about how you can juggle 10 balls at once. Write about how you started a chess club in high school. Talk about your trip to California that you videotaped and made a horror movie out of with Adobe After Effects. Anything that to you is an accomplishment. I don’t care how cheesy it sounds.
For your past jobs write what you ACTUALLY did. If you hated your boss, put that down and say why. If you liked certain aspects of a job, do the same. Be positive when possible.
Make sure you have an objective section at the top. And in this write anything that comes to your mind. What do you want?
At the end of this exercise, look at your real resume. Are there any themes that jump out at you? Do you see patterns in your accomplishments and/or skills? Take note of these, and start looking for jobs/business paths that most closely resemble these. This is what kind of “job” you should go after, and probably what you should do with your life.
I hope you never compromise yourself on your resume again.
Handcuffed by Your Salary: The Evils of a Regular PaycheckMay 2nd, 2015
Hey! Why Has My Paycheck Shrunk?February 10th, 2013
It’s All in the Writing: Make a Professional Impression With a Few Choice WordsFebruary 5th, 2013
Disappearing Act: How To Make Yourself Less Available at WorkJanuary 28th, 2013
How to Avoid Company MeetingsJanuary 26th, 2013
Wendy May 13, 2008 at 2:51 pm
I agree one hundred percent and think your idea about writing out a truthful “practice” resume is a good one. I intend to try it, painful though it will probably be. Thanks for the great insight into your past, too. It’s not always easy to be honest with others, especially those who are considering you for a job. But you’re right; “playing a role” only gets you more role-playing on the job, until you’re eventually “found out.” Better to start off on the right foot, no matter how desperate you may be!
Kelly May 24, 2008 at 7:57 am
I think this is an excellent suggestion, the totally truthful “for my eyes only” resume as a draft for a more honest approach to work, and I’m going to do it. I found your blog through the link you posted on one of the Facebook INFP groups, and it’s so great to see you and others address the same issues I find in my own life!
Scott Jackson June 1, 2008 at 9:07 am
I figure with the resume, the world runs on bullshit so adding a little more doesn’t hurt. I don’t think what I wrote on my resume has any real effect on how I am at work.
Mike June 1, 2008 at 2:55 pm
Thanks – it definitely can be a helpful “Self-discovery” sort of exercise for people who are searching for the right career. It’s interesting to see how close to what you are already doing (professionally) your new “Resume” seems to match!
And Scott, LOL
nell December 29, 2011 at 1:13 am
I LOVE this article.
I’ve been unemployed 18 months. Initially, I tried to find work that might use my strengths. Which is only a teensy bit removed from my experience – I’d been moving in the right direction – but too far, it seems, for hiring managers. Five years ago, a career switch might have been possible; not so now.
As employability ebbs further away, I’m finding myself lying to myself *all the time* in my applications, in a bid to just get anything that will keep food on the table. It’s hard to think of my next gig – which will be awful and underpaid, undoubtedly – as a stopgap. It will set the salary and terms for the role after that, and the next.
I’m honestly horrified by immediate future. This might help me shape an interim view. Printing, and doing.
Ryan July 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm
Feel you 100%
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