Friday, July 21, 2006

Dumbing down my resume

When I made up my resumes during my round of job hunts after graduation, I put every conceivable related skill on most of them. I can do a lot of random things, and I was hoping that if I had some obscure skill that they didn't know that they needed until they saw it, I'd be more likely to get a job.

Well, I don't know if my skill list had anything to do with my getting this job, but I'm seriously reconsidering this strategy for the next time I go out job hunting. Why? Because I don't freaking WANT to use some of these skills.

I took a statistics class in college. It was required. I slept through most of it because I had already taken an equivalent course in high school (and my school refused to give me the college credit I was supposed to get for it.) One new skill I did learn from this boring, boring class was the rudimentary use of SPSS, which is a social sciences statistical software package. I put this on my resume.

Several months ago, when I actually had some work to do, there was talk in the department about getting someone to do statistics. My supervisor brought this to my attention and suggested that if I took some more classes, I could be the statistics guru of the department and do lots of analysis for our studies in-house. I looked into this briefly, but inside I wanted to have a temper tantrum. Why? Because I hated every minute of using SPSS and doing complicated statisics. I'm fine with doing some quick Excel formulas, but I really, really, really don't want to make statistics the main thrust of my job duties. Fortunately, it turned out that what they really wanted was a statisics PhD to run some fairly complicated analyses, and my little bit of knowledge wouldn't cut it. (True to form, they never got around to finding the PhD, and a few months later I was asked if I would like to learn how to do the analyses.. I said okay, with reservations, but they never got around to that either.)

Now I'm considering leaving statistics off my resume entirely. Yes, it makes me a better candidate, especially in research, where it could potentially enable me to get greater collaborative power with the higher-ups running the studies. But I Really Don't Want To Do It. I wouldn't be applying to any jobs where statistics was part of the main duties of the job. And there's always the second chance of bringing up my limited statistics skills in the interview. Is this career suicide? I don't know. I don't think so. But a life without SPSS sounds pretty good to me.


ricemutt said...

We come from opposite sides (I love SPSS and statistics), but I totally get what you're saying. I wouldn't want a job where using SPSS was the main thing I did.

If you're applying to jobs that don't center around statistics, and it sounds like that's what you should be targeting, leave it off. Chances are they won't know what it is anyway. I wrote a post this week about writing targeted resumes, and as you gain more work experience, you'll find you'll increasingly need to cater your resume and be choosy about what to include and leave out.

If you want to mention you've got statistical skills, you can generalize it a bit and just mention an example in a bullet point somewhere instead of calling out "4 years of SPSS experience" somewhere else on your resume.

The good thing is that if you ever need it to get a job, you can revert to emphasizing it later. That's the great thing about having lots skills: being able to choose which ones you want to sell :)

Tiredbuthappy said...

Yeah, I feel you on this Penny.

I can tinker around in HTML. I know my ass from my elbow in Photoshop and Dreamweaver. But I am an abysmal designer. I don't enjoy it. I'm not good at it. I don't want to be the accidental web designer of some po-dunk library.

Unfortunately, it my case, it WOULD be career suicide to disguise my web skills. So I just have to be careful that they don't work too much design into my job description. (It's happened before and I learned my lesson.)

sf mom said...

If you really, really don't want to do statistics, please don't.

One of the best books I ever read was called "Doing what you love and loving what you do." It was a fabulous book about finding the work you love. If you move forward with statistics (or any other job that doesn't fulfill you), you will find yourself several years from now (or sooner) hating it.

My whole purpose in life is to be happy. Maybe it's part of yours too?

sf mom said...

Wow, I'm having Friday evening brain-freeze. The book I meant to reference earlier is How to Find the Work You Love, by Laurence G Boldt.


Ms. MiniDucky said...

Definitely leave it off..... I have been working with my boss/supervisor on hiring a couple of new staffers for the office and in reading resumes, I've found that he/we look at overall strengths and at "random/misc" skills to see what else the applicant can bring to the table. For example: he's very aware of the need for multi-lingual staffers and so any languages you list had better be legit fluency cause he actually does want to utilize that skill. Oops.

Then Things said...

I went through something similar recently but sometimes having a skill can lead somewhere that you didn't forsee. At my job we don't do much web work but we had one hospital client whose site we had to update. This was not a design job but just realllly tedious HTML, and I was not looking forward to it when my company offered to pay for further HTML training for me. Well we stopped doing the service for the hospital about a month after my training was over and now I've positioned myself to be more important for our clients that need web work (that might actually be fun jobs!) However it sounds like for me it was clearer how those skills would translate to what I wanted to do (be a more skilled designer) than in your situation. But ya never know where a unique skill will take you!

Anonymous said...

Leave it off.

I get sick & tired of people tellling me I am overqualified.

Its like do they really think I would prefer not working at all?

I relize they think I would leave as soon as something better comes along, but if that were true I would have been working the last 5 years.

Im now no longer overqualified but now obsolete per its been 5 years since ive been a systems analyst and have already dumbed the resume down twice.

Im in the process of making a 'entry level' resume that will make it look like Ive been a operator or a technician all my life. (only half of it).

One shouldnt lie, but I do not consider leaving stuff off wrong (I have 4 entries left out per being there only 6 months or less.

I explain the gap as education or jobhunting.

On that which I keep much of what I do can be reworded (dumbed down) and still be accurate.

Anonymous said...

Its funny, but 3 years ago, I obtained a dataentry job on CICS.

Despite having been a CICS programmer for 8 years and major training in it.. I got the job only after I dumbed the resume down and presented it to a different interviewer.

Anonymous said...

Those who say its wrong, are usually the ones who discriminate the most (per a former manager).

The likelyhood of my ever getting back to $35/hr is not there.

Im having to settle for 1/3 or less.

Even so, if I got decent pay & medical benefits, I would be very unlikely to leave even if a better job came along.

Yea right, with all the major layoffs, Im going to be competing with all levels of people for any job I try to get.