Friday, December 1, 2006

Reading Between The Lines

There's a lot of stuff you can say in a resume, whether it's one page of bullet points or a 10-page masterpiece (that won't all get read by the way), but that doesn't tell the whole story.

The personality of the person applying for the job is important too. Will they be a good fit for the role? Will they get on well with the team already in place? Do they say one thing to you and mean another?

A work ethic is something that you can't write down... it's something that you should already have built in. My work ethic is very high -- but you expect me to say that right? This is a job search blog after all. ("Nah, we thought you'd say 'I'm bloody lazy and only want a job because daytime TV is crap.'")

Here's some extra info that you won't see on my resume, just to fill out the profile...

Contrary to popular opinion, in England our parents don't send us up to clean chimneys at the age of five, and we don't live in a cardboard box "bah tha side of t' road." (Thanks Monty Python.) But I did "start work" when I was around nine. I used to get up at 6 a.m. for a newspaper delivery round. It was only about 30 houses I delivered to, but when you're a kid it seems like a real job.

Come rain, shine and snow, I did that for about two years and earned the grand sum of three pounds a week. Saved up for comics, toys and a Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer which -- in those days was like the Xbox 360 or PS3 -- and had the 48k of memory I thought would last forever. Christmas was good because there'd be an envelope stuck to most of the doors containing a few extra pounds from the customers... all apart from Mrs. Brown at no. 32, cheap old biddy. (She had a hair sticking out of a mole on her cheek too, funny what you remember.)

Anyway, started our version of high school at 11, and outgrew the newspaper round, but was really into earning extra cash apart from the pocket money my parents gave me. So I started a part-time job two days a week after school and Saturdays. That was in a greengrocers (grocery store) just stacking shelves, making sure the fruit and veg was fresh, that sort of thing. Stuck at that for a couple of years too.

So, high school finished at 16 and I was thrust out into the real world. Through my dad's friend (already networking!) I started as a messenger boy working in a London stockbroking firm. I had to carry stock certificates and other documents across the city, menial back office duties and -- my all-time favourite job -- clean out the coffee machine. Cool!

After the fifth time of spilling coffee dregs down my 1986-style light grey suit and yellow tie, I decided enough was enough and asked the company to pay for me to attend a class after work once a week to become a "real" stock dealer. They were the whizzkids of Thatcher's Britain at the time, gelled-back Gordon Gecko hair and Porsches, and I wanted in.

So, took the class for two months, failed the exam the first time, passed the second -- and I became a junior dealer on the desk. Of course I was everyone's whipping boy, always are in that high-octane, big-pressure monied environment, but it was cool, fun and exciting. I was very naive though, and didn't understand the way the world worked...

One day a partner upstairs in the hallowed halls had a bit too much gin and tonic at lunchtime, and screwed up a big order that put the company in a lot of financial trouble. Of course, being the new kid on the desk, I had to phone around the markets and clean up the mess. I was pissed off that I had to work double hard to clear up that guy's mistake who had been in the biz for years, and made some comment to a colleague about "the old fart being drunk again" or something. Of course, that comment wasn't taken well -- even though it was true -- and I was told not to repeat stuff like that. [Blogs are great, aren't they?]

From that moment I realized it was them and us. One set of rules for certain people, and if your face doesn't fit or you don't play the game, then you're screwed.

I was out of there at 19, strapped a backpack on and saw the world -- well -- Australia, Asia, The Middle East and a lot of Europe anyway. Best education is life education, and it changed me as a person. I wrote a book about two years in Israel too.

Went back to college at 24 to get my journalism career underway, which is what I'd always wanted to do anyway, and the rest is all on my resume.

I now bring a wider outlook to my career and always look at the big picture in situations. I take a deep breath before making major decisions, I'm not quick to judge people, I speak my mind (which offends some, but at least we both know where we stand), I always rely on my instincts and make sure that anything that has my name on it is the best it can be before it goes out the door.

So, that's all the extra stuff that doesn't include words like "synergy," "process management" and the classic "let's run it up the flagpole and see how it flies."

But, I can still say more in an interview situation. Hint hint.

Have a great weekend, see you Monday back in the job search trenches.

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