Sunday, April 27, 2008

...the rich are very different from you and me...

This afternoon I met with a young woman whose resume I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks. We initially got off to a rocky start, because when she first sent me her existing resume, she inadvertently included an email from a friend who’d looked it over, who’d written: “On the Profile section (Objective) you really need to dress/jazz that up. Say how you are eager to work for an outstanding -------- organization; how your skills/knowledge can help that organization be more successful...DO NOT pay to have your resume done--that would be fine if you were a CEO or something.”

Uh-huh. Well, if only she were “a CEO or something”, then she’d actually have a job history, and I’d have had something to work from, rather than starting from scratch. I sent her a copy of the changes I’d made to that point with a rather crisp email saying that if she shared her friend’s sentiment, I wished her luck, and perhaps between the two of them, they could write her resume, but I wasn’t about to do it without being paid for my time. To my surprise, I received a contrite email from her assuring me she was willing to pay me for my time, and asking me to continue.

Which I did. And at her request, I drafted some cover letters for her. I put everything into a binder: resume; a cover letter template; an email cover letter; a networking letter; a slightly longer, more formal, snail mail cover letter; some brief suggestions on how to discuss and negotiate salary; common interview questions; and questions she could ask a prospective employer when, at the end of the interview, one is asked, “Now, what questions do you have for me?”

This afternoon, at the appointed time, I met her at my local Starbuck’s. She was already there when I arrived, which I took as a good sign, and I was pleased to see that she’d brought a copy of what I’d drafted, and per my request had highlighted the things she had questions about. I’d color coded a number of things that I had questions about, and we started with those. For example, I’d said she was Highly Organized because that’s a very desirable trait in the type of job she’s looking for, but I had no idea if it was accurate...she hadn’t used this phrase to describe herself on the resume she’d sent to me. So I asked her if this was accurate, saying we’d definitely want to delete it if it weren’t.

“No, that’s TOTALLY me!” she exclaimed, and so we went through the rest of my color coded items until we got to the education section, which I’d placed last. On what she’d sent me, she’d indicated she'd already graduated, but I knew she’d taken classes this spring.

“What’s your date of graduation?” I asked.

“I’ll walk in May!” she exclaimed, smiling.

I congratulated her, and said, “Well, that brings up something else. You’ll be a new graduate, so unless it’s really awful, we should list your GPA.”

“Oh, it’s REALLY bad! We CAN’T list my GPA!” she said, and then she continued, “I don’t even’s all up in the air. I mean, I’ll WALK in May for sure, but I won’t know until after I’ve walked if I’ve passed a couple of my classes...but I’ll walk no matter what...”

“OK,” I said brightly, “then we WON’T list your GPA! Now, what questions do you have for me?”

She looked at the resume and frowned slightly, then wrinkled her nose and smiled and said, “Well...the Objective...I don’t know if that’s correct...”

She hadn’t had an Objective on the resume she’d sent to me. It was something I’d added, and I looked now at what I’d written: “Objective: To secure an entry level ----position offering personal growth, challenge, and responsibility”

“Well, we don’t have to have it,” I said.

“No, no, I think it’s GOOD,” she said, “but I don’t know if it’s ACCURATE, the way you’ve worded it...”

“OK,” I said, genuinely puzzled, “What do we need to change?”

She wrinkled her nose again, and said, frowning slightly, “Well, entry-level...I don’t know that I want to start at entry-level...”

She glanced at me and added quickly, “I mean, I know everyone has to start SOMEPLACE, but entry-level...”

“Well, but you have no work experience!” I exclaimed, looking down at her resume to confirm that since entering college 5 years ago, the pretty young woman sitting before me had worked at exactly ONE job, from July to August 2005, which I’d changed to “Summer 2005" on her resume.

“But I did an internship!” she said defensively, and I could hear entitlement creeping into her tone.

Ah, yes, the internship. Not a full semester, supervised and graded, at-school-internship, but, by her own account “a friend of Daddy’s, June to July 2007" internship.

I took a deep breath and smiled.

“OK, so not entry-level, what were you thinking?”

“Well, management, of course...” she said. “I mean, I guess I’d be willing to do a management-training track, if I had to, but really I want to be in management...”

Uh-huh. No work history, because no work experience during college, not even summers, and in spite of not having to work at all while attending college, took longer than 4 years to complete college, with such a low GPA that she won’t say what it is, and it can’t be listed on the resume.

Management indeed

“Well, you’ll have it electronically, so you can word that however you want to word it,” I said, diplomatically.

“I have another question,” she said.

“OK!” I smiled, steeling myself.

“You haven’t put my availability on here,” she said.

“I don’t usually list it,” I said, “but you could certainly add it if you want to. When are you available?”

“Well, that’s the thing,” she said, smiling again, “I don’t know. It’s all up in the air. If I have to retake a class or two, then that’ll take until August, but even if I don’t, I’m going to Europe for two weeks this summer, and I have to find an apartment...”

“So it sounds like it’s best not to list it,” I said.

“I guess. I have one more question.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Well, why’d you list my education LAST? I mean, isn’t it usually first on a resume? I had it first before...”

I sighed. “Here’s the thing,” I said. “When I interview people, I have a copy of their resume in front of me, and we go through it, in order. A lot of people do it like that, and because you’re a new graduate, if you were an honor student, I’d put Education right up there on top. But you’re not an honor student, and we can’t even list your GPA. So if I put Education first, the first thing that could happen in an interview is that a prospective employer might look at that and say, Oh, I see you’re a recent graduate, what was your GPA? And then you’d be off to a bad start. It’s not your strongest point, so I’ve put your strengths up front, and Education last.”

She was OK with that.

She’s very pretty, very young, and apparently very rich. She told me her father’s “in the business” and has connections that she’ll use. Judging by the number of middle aged guys ogling her in Starbuck’s, I’d guess she’ll have a job in no time, in spite of her lack of experience and being unable to list her GPA. Hey, for all I know, she’ll be fast tracked for Management...


Chris said...

You should have given reality a hand and smacked her, because you know reality is going to:)

Erin said...

I think your title says it all! I'm always amazed at how different people view the world!

Anonymous said...

You should have had her fill out an application at Starbucks.


Erin said...

heh. she's totally fast-track management material. Yes, I'm really cynical, but that's OK, because I am also right! :)

Tammy said...

I hope her parents are very proud...argh! What a waste of that college education.

BTW, you did a beautiful job and managed to remain calm. ;)

Lisa :-] said...

Ick! I think I'm going to be sick now...

With all the HR issues I've had to deal with in the past months, this story certainly does not restore my faith in human nature or the younger generation. I have to wonder exactly why she needed a resume...?