C'est Moi

Is this me?

A punctual and reliable worker. Takes pride in doing a job well, enjoys working with people and willing to learn new skills. Good telephone manner and interpersonal skills, with the ability to communicate with people in their own terms.

No, that's a description of a receptionist who is (a) very competent (b) neither liked nor disliked by collegues and (c) aproximately as exciting as an overdose of ketamine. However, for the purposes of the job market, it's me.

Is this me?

I have been involved in software development and end user support for most of my adult life, designing many kinds of hardware and software systems, training users in their operation, and modifying the systems in the light of user feedback.

Well, computer programming is what I did between the ages of fifteen and twenty four, and user support is what I've done since then, though not as a job, so in a certain sense, it describes me. But only in the way that "refused to wear jeans and owned two goldfish" describes me.

I hated to wear jeans at age five, and kept goldfish at twenty three.

In my efforts to get some kind of job, I've been reading websites on how to write CVs. There's some useful advice like "Put your name in big letters at the top", "Don't mention age or marital status" and "Don't give references unless specifially asked".

They also advise me to use lots of "action verbs". Now, in linguistics there's two basic kinds of verb - those which describe an action but don't specify the result (eg. throw, kiss, want, push, kick), and those which tell you about the result but not how it was achieved (smash, cover, kill, reward, make).

Which of the two do you think are what management professionals call "action verbs"? That's right, it's the second group.

These people seem to genuinely believe that things like creating. managing, overseeing, controlling, and enhancing are actions, performed by managers through an effort of willpower. The things that need to be done to make these results happen are relegated to some shadowy netherworld, performed by unseen menials who don't exactly exist.

Anyway, the one piece of advice which is always implicit but never written is "tell as many lies as you think you can get away with". Or "mislead the employer with selective truth, distortion and whatever outright fabrication you're sure they won't notice".

Why do this? Because everyone else is doing it, so if you don't you won't get a job. That's the logic of competition, and one day some economist or management consultant will be bright enough to realise it and brave enough to say it.

I wonder if there's a formula somewhere for calculating "Optimum cheating strategy" - measuring "benefit of cheating" against "corruption of competition" and "probability of getting caught".

So far, I've managed to avoid putting any actual lies on my CV. It's just got lots of what politicians and journalists call "spin" - misleading truth.


  1. Just one little thing from your post. I've been advised that you might as well give your references right away. They actually go as far as to tell people to leave off "references available upon request" on the resume because that is already expected. Now they are pushing for portfolios. --Like I'm a media person!

  2. I've been given lots of contradictory advice - include "referances available" and don't, list subjects in qualifications below degree and don't, include email adress and don't...

    Personally I can't see the harm in providing references, provided they don't push the length over two pages.

    Portfolios?! If you were a photographer or graphic artist yes, but for retail work? That's mad.