The Expanding Resume: Capturing a Life in Outline Form


04 Mar
04Mar

When I fully retired from my paid work several years ago (shortly before I started this blog), I had a lengthy resume/CV that covered the essential details of my work life. Of course, since I primarily used my resume to obtain new contracts, its emphasis was on my consulting business of 18 years. 

But now, like all the books pertaining to the kind of work I did (evaluating educational and non-profit programs), it felt like another piece of history. Until I saw it in a new light. 

Although I am a writer, I have little interest in writing a memoir or my autobiography. Without children or close relatives for whom such a tome might be of interest and without any unusual thread that might be of interest to anyone else, such a project didn’t seem worth my time. However, here I had this barebones document—an outline of my education, work, and professional life, including publications—that could serve as the foundation for a more expanded version of that whole side of me--a reminder, mostly to myself, of what I did all those years and perhaps, should my cognitive powers fail, a story to be shared with caregivers. Furthermore, I had been a career counselor for many years, and resumes were the bread and butter of that profession.

Thus began “The Expanding Resume” project—a work in progress.

I stuck with the usual sub-categories but filled them in as needed. But there are no rules!

Education: Typically, for anyone with a college degree, the educational section begins with the undergraduate degree. But what about before age 18? I beefed up this section with the names of my schools all the way back to kindergarten and included other programs that involved significant time commitments. I also added my coursework to my various degrees to remind myself what I’d studied. 

Consulting: The rest of page one consisted of a selection of my consulting contracts, especially the more recent ones, with the dates and a brief description of the nature of the work. When my resume was a living passport, my original objective had been to confine these projects to one page. Since length was no longer an issue, I went through old contracts (shredding them afterwards---yay!!) and included all of my contracts, even the ones that were terminated prematurely, along with how much I’d been paid. 

Work: Prior to my consulting business, I’d held a number of jobs. All of the professional jobs were represented, if only with a few lines, but what about my first job after college—a secretarial job in the Civil Engineering Department at M.I.T? If nothing else, that job became the catalyst for my participation in what was eventually called the second wave of the women’s movement and, thus, was an important part of my personal development. I remember meetings and hours of discussion with the all-female and well-educated secretarial staff at M.I.T. And there were the pre-B.A. jobs, too, including the one-week stint as assistant to my dentist the summer I was 16. I even had to mix mercury for fillings. (I pity the poor souls whose cavities were filled with my elementary attempts at getting the consistency right.) Based on other documents I came across and my own memory, I elaborated on the full-time jobs I’d held, no longer needing to worry that I was being too detailed. I could even say how painful the experience was! Since I decided to include my bosses’ names, I refrained from personal assessments of them. 

Professional Activities: On the original resume, I carefully selected the professional activities that enhanced my other work. Now, I was free to add with abandon even those that were decided failures—book proposals that were rejected, projects that never came to full fruition as well as those that relate more to my post-retirement life as a writer, artist, and down-sizer. 

Publications and Presentations: As someone who spent the last 20 years of her working life in a quasi-academic field, I was a contributor to a number of professional journal articles. Now, I’ve added my fiction and my blogs as well as my committee work related to writing and my pro-bono editorial work. 

Honors and Awards: My receipt of the Lower School Art Award after the 4th grade was one of the proudest moments of my life. Such an ancient honor was not appropriate for a traditional resume, but it belongs in my expanded version. 

My current version of "The Expanding Resume" is 18 pages. And the beauty of it is that I can keep adding to it in any way I like as I come across new details because the only person who cares about it is me. I can then throw away all those scraps of paper with random information that I've kept. An unexpected benefit is that each new entry triggers memories and stories that create a richer auto-biographical stew. 

What's in yours?

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