Friday the 13th of January, 2012: Let’s back up the timeline slightly, to the day I realized that I would not be working to the end of the month. It was clear that I was going to need a resumé, and that my most recent one was 19 years old. What do job seekers do these days? And what is the proper way to spell resumé in English? Google search to the rescue!
Having learned some French in high school, I knew that the word was really résumé. But why did I rarely see it written that way in English? My quick research revealed that the second accent helps the reader distinguish the term from “resume” in a way that suggests the proper Anglicized pronunciation: Reh-zoo-may. So resumé it is.
With that out of the way, where should I compose it, how should it be structured, and what should it contain? I realized that my employer would repossess my PC, so the document would not live long there. A CNET review led me to a web site that got me started, so that’s where I put it. That was useful at the time, but turned out not to be such a good idea.
One of the most dreaded, productivity-sapping, yet wonderful exercises at Bell Labs was the annual performance review. Although the process changed with time, spinoffs, and a merger, the basic idea remained the same: you write down what you accomplished during the past year, your manager writes his (I never reported to a her) summary, and the system decides your rating and rewards. Besides the rewards part and its loose correlation with your actual contribution, the other wonderful result is that you had a detailed written record of everything worth including in your resumé. Cool.
The first 14 years of my career were already summarized in the resumé that I prepared in 1993. I had some fresh source material to cover the time up to early 2011, when I applied for elevation to IEEE Senior Member. All I had to add was the last year. That should be easy.
With 33 years of diverse experience, what should I leave out to keep the document under the recommended two pages? Or does the two-page limit even apply in this day of electronic applications? It took several weeks before I learned the correct answers to these fundamental questions, although at the time I had no idea that I was facing such a learning timeline. Most of this blog will detail that learning from my viewpoint.
My resulting First Resumé ran slightly longer than four pages. Comparing notes later with members of my cohort, mine was not even the longest draft around. We had some serious editing to do. But for my first few job applications, this four-page version would have to do. As you will read in a later post, it did suffice to get me to my first phone interview.