Sometimes not everything is apparent in a résumé, cover letter, or interview. Sometimes non-job-related are equally helpful at demonstrating skills and abilities, but there is no way to integrate them in the job-hunting process. Thus here is what my résumé doesn’t show ans what can be learned from it.
1. I am an elderly caretaker.
My grandparents are no longer in good health, can no longer drive, and are slipping mentally a little more each day. Since I graduated, I’ve been a part-time caretaker and chauffeur for them. I take my grandmother out for groceries on a weekly basis and carry the purchases. I drive them to doctor appointments and to any related testing. I help out as needed around the house and the yard. I also endure repeated calls throughout the day asking to have information repeated because they don’t remember it. For the majority of the last two months, since my grandfather fell and broke his upper arm, I have had to spent time sitting with him first at the hospital, then rehab. Someone has to be there at meal times to help with his food and periodically throughout the day to help keep him calm.
In many ways these duties can be likened to dealing with elderly, disabled, and/or difficult library patrons. I know there were times when I used techniques I learned on the job with family and vice versa.
2. I’m a farm girl.
I grew up on a farm. My neighbor’s owned it, but Dad was their invaluable handyman and I was treated like I was part of the family. So were my parents. We still are, but the farm had to be sold two years ago and I still see it outside the windows each day. However, for over two decades of my life I was a farm girl. I walked the fence line to check for problems. I assisted Dad in repairing infrastructure, tractors, and trucks. I picked vegetables, dug up potatoes, and shucked and blanched corn. I helped in a supportive role with hay and straw baling by helping to prepare and deliver food and beverages. I could have done more, but I was and am still too short to be seen from a tractor-top perch. That kept me from being in the field carrying the square bales despite the fact I’d later sometimes carry the bales to the feeding managers for the cattle’s enjoyment. My favorite duty however, was catching dinner. Who was I to refuse a chance to go fishing?
Living this way means one has to know the value of hard work, not just mentally but also physically. Plus I did all this plus maintaining my honor student status which shows great time management skills.
3. In the past, I’ve used my other skills to supplement my income.
I’m a crafter and a pretty good amateur photographer. I’ve used these skills in the past for supplemental income and to supplement budgets for student organizations. Granted it has been since high school since I did much in the way of “commission work,” it is something I have though about returning to, especially with the existence of Esty. I frequently make jewelry and have done both original and repair work for family and friends. I’m also handy with a camera. In junior high and high school I took many photos for the yearbook (and I was the only student not on the yearbook committee in high school to do so). I also photographed and took portraits at several events which were then sold to raise money for the organization. Now my focus is mostly landscapes and nature photos, which I’m considering beginning to sell as well. None of this is on my résumé.
Crafting and photography are not the only way to manifest creativity. Often when someone is creative in one way, they are in many ways. This helps lead to new, innovative ideas that can benefit a library, archive, or company. Sometimes It can also lead to interesting ways to solve a problem. Or a crafting event.
4. I’ve worked summer and short-term jobs that are not listed.
In college, the only summer I succeeded in finding a job I worked at McDonalds. I spent two months taking orders, operating a cash register, and cleaning the lobby. In graduate school, I had a short-term summer job at Ellis Library, also in the reference department. It was my job to check the status of a specific shelf of books and figure out if they belonged in reference, other parts of Ellis, a branch library, or if they needed weeded (removed for those not in libraryland). After that was completed, I shelf-read the reference and ready reference sections to check for duplicate and outdated titles/editions. After completing the list, I checked the retention patterns and ensured they were followed, as it seemed that it hadn’t been for nearly five or six years. This meant I transferred hundreds of titles around the libraries as needed and removed several hundred others completely from circulation. While this was only a month-long, ten-hour-a-week position I did learn a lot, especially about the breadth of reference material) and it required a strong attention to detail and ability to work independently (a skill also used in my assistantship). The reason these positions are not on my résumé is because they were too short-term and my résumé is already too long from the jobs, skills, awards, and curriculum vitae type material on it.
5. What about transferable skills?
While some programs, such as Microsoft Office, are nearly universal used what about other types? Take for instance screen capture software. I used Tegrity as part of my duties as a graduate reference assistant. The similar program Camtasia is more popular and offers more features. However, I’ve only seen it demonstrated as Tegrity was the library’s official program for screen-capture purposes. Both offer the basic tools, such as record, pause, finalize, and add captions, but Camtasia offers many more editing tools. Someone who has learned Tegrity could easily learn to use Camtasia and its extra tools. For another example, Print Shop is a software I’m very familiar with. It can be used to create cards, brochures, banners, and more plus it offers advanced basic photo editing tools. If one knows how to use this product, they will be equally at home using Microsoft Publisher. With the photo editing tools, one has a basic background from which to begin utilizing Adobe Photoshop (through admittedly, I can’t do anything fancy with Photoshop; just crop, touch up, and repixalate. That’s what I did some with The State Historical Society of Missouri but I’d love to learn the artsy side of the program.)
Then what about people skills? One thing I’ve had trouble convincing hiring manager outside of libraryland is that patron service skills are the same as customer service skills. It’s just a different name because we offer services for free (or to be more correct, at tax payer or the parent institution’s expense) instead of selling them. Or that organizational management and leadership skills could be substituted for lower-level management and supervisory experience as the main difference is one is done freely and the other paid. I could probably come up with more examples given more time.
As you can see, there are many hidden skills either not seen or not considered in the hiring process. While in some cases it is because the duties lack resume space, in others some don’t see the transferability of skills. While some could be remedied in the interview process, others are unlikely to come up due to time or because they are irrelevant to the topic at hand. Perhaps resumes, traditional or visual, are no longer the way to go. Perhaps those documents should be supplemented with other material like a personal statement that touches on points not addressed in the cover letter or resume similar to those above. Or maybe everyone needs a blog and it should be considered as part of the hiring process because it can demonstrate these other skills.
Thoughts and ideas? Would you include something I haven’t? Does this make you rethink the hiring process?