Ugh. The “biography” that I sent out combined with my “accomplishment sheet" in a networking blast contained a publishing error—margins that didn’t match up. My fault--should have proofed the final--again. Then I received two differing comments from recipients of the documents, recommended for me in outplacement meetings instead of a traditional resume. One individual thought that with minor adjustments the two pages could become self marketing tools if I want to go into business for myself. Hmmm. The other asked, “Why are you sending these out instead of a resume? You know what I do when I receive these? I throw them in the trash.” To her defense, when I was recruiting; I rolled my eyes at these documents too. I reminded myself that the pieces are not designed for the traditional recruiter with a box to fill, but to highlight a range of experiences--to jog a reader’s brain for ideas for future opportunities, outside of the recruitment arena.
Earlier that morning, for the second time, an informational interviewer did not read the biography or accomplishment documents that I emailed ahead of our scheduled meeting. After ascertaining she did not know my background, I explained my goal of a career change and handed over a resume, stashed in my portfolio as a backup. After a glance at my experience, she asked: “Why do you want to change careers when your entire background is in recruitment?” It was all I could do not to audibly sigh. I will forge forward, once I drive myself through this mini-relapse into the “chicken or the egg” syndrome. How do you interview for a job when you don’t know what you want to do?
I am closer. My self analysis after the last two months is this: Middle Passages follows years of squeezing my desire to learn to write into late nights, Saturday mornings, and fifteen spare minutes when I could find them. The blog, which began unexpectedly as a means to clear my head after that first sleepless unemployed night, has evolved into my delight. I savor the writing process, each lousy first draft, the reading aloud, the editing, the cutting, the unending challenge to paint an ever clearer picture with words, but it’s a love that is unlikely to pay the bills. On the practical end though, these 54 blog pages serve as proof of my ability to document things clearly, cleanly, sometimes with humor, and, to adhere to deadlines (albeit self imposed). Middle Passages is my evidence in spite of the history recorded on the resume, that I can write.
On paper the hat I wear reads “career recruiter” but for the last 8.5 years, I recruited less and supervised more. My staff knocked on my door with questions, issues, concerns, and I offered ideas, recommendations and solutions, while managing a $2M budget and developing process improvements. I am a professional with skills in problem solving, communicating, training, listening, interviewing, and networking. But guess what else folks? I’m digging a toehold into the side of a mountain, my hand is grasping for the crevice above and I’m hollering down a long valley: “Hey out there! Can anyone hear me? I am a writer too.”
In White Oleander, by Janet Fitch, which I read until my eyes bled the last two nights, the main character looks at different homes and says: “In a single block, there could be fifty separate worlds. Nobody ever really knew what was going on next door.” A resume, like the façade of a house, is a snapshot revealing the surface--a roof for the hair, two windows for eyes, an overhang of a nose and a yawning door for the mouth. Enter though, and the first floor may contain one great area with a floor to ceiling river rock fireplace climbing up the wall and airy plate glass windows framing the trees outside, or the home could be walled off into pastel painted rooms surrounding eyelet canopied four posters, with a narrow hallway connecting to each.
As a recruiter, I too was guilty of digesting only the evidence residing on the surface of the printed page. Fingers crossed that through this networking process, I’ll find a person who takes the time to tunnel below, who has faith that something even better exists just below the surface.