Tuesday, March 16, 2010

selling myself...short?

Recently I’ve been updating my resume.  Initially I did this to submit with my application to the Greater Kansas City Writing Project (I got in, y’all – hooray for writing!) but when I was writing my cover letter, I started thinking about how hard it is for me to talk myself up.  I’m almost 35.  I thought I was far away from the days of insecurity and false advertisement.  I mean, I think at this age you get what you get.  I might have been able to sell you something different or flashy ten years ago, but not today…not only would you not believe it, I don’t have the energy anymore to pretend I’m someone I’m not.  I got really frustrated putting my resume together because for a potential employer, it looks on paper as if I’ve not really done very much with my life.  I’ve had two jobs that are worthy of noting in my resume – as much as I learned from bartending and waiting tables, I don’t think they have much to do with writing or who I am now in my life.  The rest of my time? I’ve spent much of it in school – man, UMKC should thank me for all the money I’ve dumped at them just for being a nerd.  Here is what I would like to share on my resume that I can’t or won’t:  I gave birth.  That should be worthy of note, I think.  I had a med student shove a foot long needle in my spine and then I gave birth. BIRTH…you know, birth. Twice.
I nursed my babies and changed their diapers and got up with each of them multiple times a night. One of my girls (I won’t name names, Lucy) didn’t sleep through the night until she was 13 months old. We were so excited when she finally did that I got knocked up again. I have cleaned up barf and poop and boogers and more spilled food and drink than I would care to recall.  I have read Goodnight Moon 1,368 times.  I can cook the shit out of a chicken nugget.  I am the mother of a child who has food allergies and because of that I have learned more about food and nutrition than I care to share. Seriously, I am a plethora of ridiculous food based knowledge. I can multitask like nobody’s business. I can talk on the phone while changing a diaper and cooking dinner and wiping a nose.  I wash my hands 68 times a day.  I make a good princess and an even better superhero. I can drive safely while two children sing at the top of their lungs to Lady Gaga. I can name every one of the Seven Dwarves, all of Dora’s friends (even that crazy taxi driving squirrel) and, sadly, I know what happens in every Disney movie released in the past three decades.  I can make a mean glass of super chocolatey chocolate milk.  I give fantastic hugs.
I started to get down on myself when I was looking at my resume and at what I considered my lack of experience, but then I just got irritated that I couldn’t figure out how to include any of the stuff I just listed without sounding crazy.  It looks on my resume like I spent much of my adult life unemployed.  When, in reality, I work for two of the biggest hard-asses around.  I’m going to teach them how to talk their mama up, because I should use my girls as references.


  1. 1) It sounds like you've got your priorities straight.

    2) What is it you want to do? Make more of the moolah?

    3) I really think you need to stop downplaying your restaurant and bar work. Listen, I work in IT. By nature, most of my co-workers are marginally autistic sociopaths! (I am not necessarily excluding myself from that group.) If I could teach them the value of being on the other side of the table (like people who have worked in service industries have) that would be invaluable! I'll even go on and say, that given the right opportunity, I'd take somebody who knew and had the skills to defuse conflict, reach compromise, and keep the customer happy ANY DAY over some technogeek savant!

    Point being - I don't know that I'd say you were a cocktail waitress at the Silver Slipper (or wherever) but there are employer neutral ways you can fill in perceived gaps in your resume.

    4) I do think you're going to struggle giving up some of your flexibility. Especially with the younger one's food allergies. I would be scared shitless to hand her off to somebody who might screw something up, but - sincerely - God bless you - I imagine that's something you live with every day.

    5) We use a scary effective interview method here at work to weed out the fakers from the real people. I'd be happy to e-mail it to you, or even set up some time to go over it. (Playdate!) lol. Point being, nobody is going to ask you harder questions, and if you can master that, everything else is cake.

    6) You know, you *are* qualified to do a lot of things out of your house via the power of Da' Internets ya know? What did your undergrad end up in? I know several people who are making significant income doing freelance work out of their house. And these are "real" jobs.

    Hang in there, hang in there, hang in there!

  2. thanks Mike. I have a plan, but am not ready to share any of it just yet. I thank you for the insight, though. I never would downplay the service jobs - I think everyone in the world should wait tables once in their lives just for appreciations sake. it's just that it's been a long time since I've done those things.

    as for the adjustment, I know it will be bad - but we've lived off of one salary for long enough that I think having another will far outweigh the bad stuff. and Zoe, well, I can't say enough about Zoe's teachers at her preschool right now - she's been there since she was a baby and they are AMAZING when it comes to the food allergy stuff - plus, she's getting older and wiser and more able to be vocal about her needs. sadly, she's learned at a young age what will make her very ill.

    anyway, thank you for the note. I'll let you know what is happening when I figure it all out. I feel like I just decided for the first time what I want to be when I grow up...we'll see where it goes :)

  3. I have not worked in 9.5 years, and only one of the companies I have ever worked for is still around...that would be the one that I got laid-off from 9.5 years ago.

    Anyway, when I started trying to create a resume recently I didn't have much to say, employment-wise. It was mentioned that I play up my education...well, I finished high school and one year of college...not so impressive. There's always a section for hobbies, but what job cares about crocheting and crossword puzzles?

    I really had to think hard on what I could state as my strengths to get perspective employers to take notice. Like you, I wasn't going to make up a bunch of fancy stuff that wasn't really who I am, and honestly, I'm a mom. I have been for over 16 years. That is definitely my greatest accomplishment, the one thing I've spent the most time doing, and the toughest, yet most rewarding, job on the planet.

    Having thought of this I decided to break it down...I can problem solve, I can multi-task, I can handle distractions, I can communicate clearly and usually effectively, I can keep my cool under the most stressful of situations, and I don't give up.

    Where mentioning boogers and diaper changing might not be what they're looking for, I bet you could write about your job as a mom, the skills you have learned, the patience and commitment you can put into a job, no matter how tough it may be, attention to detail, etc.

    Being a mom is the most important job you'll ever have and you should be proud of your accomplishments. There is no reason, that I can see, that the things you have learned through parenting wouldn't directly relate at least to some parts of most jobs. I say use it...if nothing else, the uniqueness and creativity of your answer should get their attention!