Friday, April 21, 2006

S.A.M in search of....

Amongst the other things that the dreaded question brings up, is the acknowledgement that I must do something I hate. I have to update my resume.

I hate resumes on principle. I hate the fact that, on one sheet, I have to sell myself. On an 8.5”x11” sheet, single sided of course, I have to somehow create a lasting impression of my numerous, dazzling talents (edited, of course, because how could I possibly fit it all in…). On one sheet I have to mesmerize whomever is reading it, and in turn, bestow me with that most wonderful of gifts: an interview.

Let’s face it, a resume is nothing more than an intricate personal ad, codified into a professional document to be scattered across thousands of desks, read by random, anonymous faces. Yeah, it’s a bit longer, and you get to add more detail. But the goal is the same; you desperately want the reader to look it over and get interested, maybe feel something a bit warm and fuzzy. A tingling sensation would be very good. Get them excited, and baby, you’re gold.

The Architecture world demands another dimension to the process. See, you can’t just send off your resume using a nice, generic MSword template. No, you’re a designer, and a designer doesn’t use anything generic, anything that doesn’t have some intent. After all, as you will be repeatedly told in your professional practice class, you resume is more than just a sheet of qualifications. Your resume reflects, in its layout, in its choice of font, sizing and organization, you as a designer. And you don’t want to give off the wrong first impression.

The minutia of the resume boggles. There are books dedicated to its design. I know, I have several. I also, can you imagine, spent two years advising others on their own resumes. I’ve spent hours editing sentences to make them “action-oriented”, critiquing layouts for being too complex, too confusing to read at a glance, reminding countless others what exactly “relevant work-experience” is. All in the name of hitting that elusive jackpot – getting hired.

But, secretly, while I made my notes, gave my advice, I wondered if it was worth it, if a resume truly influences a potential employer. Was the fuss worth it? Did it need to be so carefully scrutinized, its balance of text to whitespace honed to utter perfection? Was it necessary for them to know the activities I participated in, or the awards I may have received. As long as pretty samples of work were involved, and I had the requisite knowledge of AutoCad, and nowadays, Maya or 3D Studio Max, did anything else matter?

Sure, work experience is important, and that becomes much more of your resume as you get older, work more. But the catch-22 of recently graduating is that, well, experience is generally the lightest part of your resume. At least experience in a firm. Or, it might just be me.

So with work experience lacking, I look at my resume and wonder, what must a potential employer be thinking, as they scan my resume. (If they scan my resume.) Would they appreciate my hours spent as a teaching assistant, the choice I made to spend a year at my alma mater, lending a sympathetic ear to younger archies as they traversed the potential pitfalls of their future life? Would they understand the reasons for my “year of drifting”, or care that I’ve volunteered my time to teach children about architecture? Or would they pay more attention to the fact that I only have a basic understanding of complex digital modeling, and little experience in a firm?

Maybe it would just be easier to place a singles ad:

S.A.M. (Single Architecture Male) 4 Cool Job.

S.A.M in search of internship at exciting, dynamic office. Would prefer financial compensation commensurate to cost of living, but would accept peanuts if firm work has been widely published or you are constantly referenced within the circles of architecture literati. Am able to decipher complex jargon and interpret conceptual B.S. Versatile, can perform many positions, and have experience using multiple forms of media. Depending on status within constellation of “starchitects”, would consider responding to “bitch” or “monkey” for the honor of having your name listed on my resume.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're thoughts on resumes depressed me. Has it occured to you that you don't have to think in terms of the resume example presented to you in high school? As an architect, figuring out how you prsent your experiences and interests could be an interesting project. Get your Mies on and think outside the box.

5:55 PM  
Blogger the silent observer said...

Umm...the examples of resumes I was referring to were definitely not presented to me in high school...more like my professional practice class my fifth year of my professional degree...

And I think a personals ad is a pretty "outside of the box" way to get hired, if I humbly say so myself....

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. I have to say, the personals ad is pretty good. Both grumpy and clever.

2. The fact that you took your pro-prac course so seriously as to regurgitate that resume format still depresses me. Are you valuing professional standards more than design questions?

12:34 PM  
Blogger the silent observer said...

Hi again...

Actually, I didn't take pro-prac that seriously. I was just lamenting the fact that, by default, the process for applying, at most firms, includes this rather random document that is suppose to capture who you are. And I was annoyed with the fact that the standards presented to us in pro-prac were so rigid.

Do I value one over the other? No. I think the design question is important. But, I also am pragmatic. I have to acknowledge the existence of those professional standards, as well as the reasons why they are there. Can I work my way around them. Hopefully. Do I know how yet? Well, maybe...but I am open to ideas, got any?

4:34 PM  
Blogger the silent observer said...

Oh...and I'd love to know who you me sometime.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you are getting closer. There is a standard procedure for applying for a job, but getting a job takes a little more creativity.
The resume is a document that tells a prospective employer what you've achieved and what your interested in, and that is pretty important information. However, that does not mean a resume is bound to an 8.5x11 Word file. How you present that information is really up to you, and really the possibilities are endless. How you approach that problem will say more about the kind of architect you are than the actual resume data.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About me:
I'm a recent graduate, underpaid and overworked.
If you think you're pissed at the world now, wait till you start practicing.

4:50 PM  

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