When it is More Than a Resume: Tales from the Job Hunt Trenches

Denise Nunezby Denise Nunez

This summer I drove through several states, visited another country, climbed to the top of a mountain and managed to avoid updating my resume in the process. When I finally started to rewrite my resume, I stumbled over a writer’s block that is more likely due to a block in the concept of who I am rather than just not knowing which action verb to use to lead off those critical bullet statements.

As a midlife woman who gave up a couple of careers to stay at home, I am struggling to redefine myself after having focused on raising kids, volunteering, working part-time jobs and completing a grad degree in library science. Employment-seeking wisdom dictates that anything accomplished over ten years ago is not relevant to my current job search. In addition, any jobs, experiences and education completed in an unrelated field must be mined for those gems of transferrable skills that are relevant to my new career objective. And speaking of career objectives – resume experts say to drop that line altogether from your resume since your objective is to get the job you are applying for using a cover letter and resume that is custom-tailored to that position. We are told to have our one minute elevator speech ready to summarize who we are and reminded that even one minute of time is considered an epoch in today’s career search process.

I find I am very reluctant to throw myself into the dog-eat-resume world of the recessionary career search and I am actually starting to feel a little indignant about the whole process. Who I am cannot be summed up in one minute. I cannot tailor myself to fit a narrow job description. And saying most of my experiences before age 38 are irrelevant goes against my grain. Notice I just gave away my age to the mathematically inclined; another resume sin. In my case, that would mean I have no hard earned electrical engineering degree, no career as an Air Force Officer, never took an artistic detour through graphic design studies, never sat on a city commission, and did not help to launch the first US direct-to-home small dish satellite service. Not that these things were great accomplishments in themselves, but they represent great learning and personal growth that have contributed to who I am today. However, these parts of me would not make the relevancy cut for inclusion on any of my personal promotional pieces including my resume.

I have to rewrite myself and perhaps let go of those things that are not considered necessary for my new library career.

So who am I now? About four years ago I decided that my interests and skills were taking me toward becoming a children’s librarian. Perhaps an odd choice these days, but there is something magical about the written word. I specifically said written and not printed word, since it does not matter to me what format the word is in, just so long as it is out there. Those factual or fanciful words are to be honored and maintained; shared with everyone; and it would be my privilege to get them into the minds of children – those beautiful open minds that soak up information like political analysts soak up poll statistics. Information, from static words to moving images, represents possibilities to children. Information that may help solve a problem, soothe a hurt, inspire a vocation or just merely entertain for a moment…it is all good. As I decided to embark on this journey into a new career as a children’s librarian, I was idealistic, excited and proud. I was going to put the profit-seeking world behind me and serve the greater good of society in the time honored tradition of librarianship. I would be connecting people today with the preserved information, ideas and creations of those who came before us. But unfortunately, the current economy has not been so well preserved and job opportunities for public librarians are a faded, worn, dog-eared version of what they were in the not so distant past.

That brings me to the critical nature of the resume: the single sheet of paper intended as a surrogate to represent ourselves in the stack of hundreds of resumes on any hiring manager’s desk for a single job opening. No wonder I am frozen in the headlights of the oncoming job search. In order to write a concise description of who I am and what I have to offer, I have to know who I am and state what I have to offer…strange how that works. To “be” a librarian is something new for me. I have to rewrite myself and perhaps let go of those things that are not considered necessary for my new library career. I imagine myself as the hiring manager (I have been in that position before) and decide what skills and attributes I would look for in a children’s librarian. And now, I stick to them like book glue.

I find myself starting the resume over with a clear mind and a blank sheet. But all of my past is not really lost. While my path to this career point may have been a little off-beat, it is this circuitous route that has led to a breadth of knowledge and experiences that allows me to reach out to people with a wide variety of interests and to be a beacon of calm during the after-school rush to the children’s section. My past experiences are not really irrelevant. They are a part of who I am even if they are not listed as bullet points on a piece of paper. So I can move forward, intact as a person, finish my resume and carry all my life lessons with me into my future as a children’s librarian.

Denise Nunez is a May 2011 graduate of SJSU SLIS. She lives in Southern California and enjoys yoga, hiking, long-distance walking and, of course, reading. Denise is looking forward to many adventures as a children’s librarian.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Amanda

    Thanks for this article. Just the inspiration I needed to tackle my own resume.

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