29 April 2009

CV Blues – Putting myself together

There is nothing more tedious than re-compiling a complete chronological CV and translating your overseas work experiences from English to German. Thankfully, there are such things as procastrination by blogging, back up files (somewhere) that survived Fujitsu's warranty repair service stunt and an over-meticulous former Me.

Just about when after two years of trial and error and dubiously listening to the Careers Office's advice to throw any chronology over board and instead stick the relevant experiences in descending order of relevance with a paragraph of detailed description, I have finally managed to change my German-speaking (and especially Catholic) country habit of giving testimony on everything you have done (handing out burgers) or should have done in your life (finish school earlier) and learned the skill to piece together tailored Cvs for particular groups of jobs, dump the linear mindset and embrace my lateral one. I still have that feeling though every time I send off an English CV that someone is gonna come with a bat and an overdimensional index finger to demand answers from my scattered past.

It is somehow ironic that for a country like the UK where every person is CCTV-ed and their international movements registered and the government holds God knows what for information on you, employers don't care so much about you declaring everything whereas in Austria, where privacy and civil liberties are in high regard, you are supposed to write down your complete life story.

How the hell do you adequately convey the significance of your university clubs&societies in German? How do you translate “press monitoring”? Do photo shops nowadays offer passport pictures in digital format? What did YOU do between 03/2005 and 05/2005? And then the English system is so drilled into my head now that I now actually second-guess whether this or that experience is really relevant to include after all, even if it is a German CV! *sigh*

While before, I used to strongly define and associate myself with my linear evolutionary achievement list (all enshrined in a Master CV believed to be lost in the Fujitsu-incident), I now have adopted a more wholesome image of myself and my development. Also, I currently suffer from CV blindness from all the puzzling together of individual Cvs. This finally explains why they say, “Know your CV by heart on the interview day!”.

“Where do you see yourself in the next five years?”
“Jeez, I can't even recall where I was in the last five years...”

Copy-pasting Cvs from five simultaneously opened word processing documents, makes the mind wander after a while and it gets inventive stretching and flexing the conventional CV into post-modern solutions. My life for example, would be much easier with a spreadsheet table made of two axes: On the vertical one all the employers and on the horizontal one all the skills. That way, I would just have to fill in the boxes with dots or leave them blank; enter a few dots whenever I start a new job and the best part is: It all neatly fits into one page. Would be an interesting experiment to send it out and see how many original HR people out there with sense of humour find it refreshing. Hm, maybe I would even land a job in a think tank!

Also, if there are any techie-savvy software engineers among you, an (ideally reliable) international CV converter (language and format) is probably going to be the next best thing what with growing international labour movements. Programme it, patent it, put it on a disk or even better, the internet and make applications less time-consuming (and life more competitive) for everyone!

Also, we, the serial applicants, all love online application forms. I once registered on a job database website (you guessed right, I can't remember for which one), where you could either enter all the fields manually or – and there goes the hit – you could choose the option to SCAN YOUR CV. In practice, you upload the CV file as usual but instead of saving the file, it automatically scans your CV and fills out the blanks in the online form in realtime! It's so creepy when one moment you browse your PC and click “Upload” and ten seconds later your whole life is in all the correct blanks! Suddenly “SOAS” is in the field “Second University” and “University of Vienna” automatically in “First University” in the education section, even if they were on the last page of my own CV and listed in reverse order!

And last but not least, my ingenious idea of “speed-interviewing”, perhaps at a ratio of 1:20. That is, for example 100 applicants spread on five recruiters from the same company. Every applicant gets three minutes and after one hour everybody can go home. This would probably still won't eradicate the unwritten irrational laws in the world of human resources:

First Applicant: “I am so delighted in getting this opportunity! I have always wanted to work for X because of Y and I have Z experiences! I was particularly impressed with how the company reacted to A, B and C”
Recruiter: “Sounds great! We'll get back to you.”

Twentieth Applicant: “This whole speed-interviewing idea sucks.”
Recruiter: “I agree, you're hired!”

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