I became aware that the work environment that my goddaughter would enter would be much different than the one I began my career when she asked for help on her resume. You see, I follow a familiar routine waiting for the other shoe to drop having bounced between being a contractor and a full-time employee for the past four years. I have grown accustomed to leaving without a trace after 6 pm since I don’t fret about the “golden handcuffs” (such as health insurance, sick leave, accrued vacation, 401(k) plans, and stock options) that shackle other full-time employees to the notion of “job security”.
I did not quite know how to prepare her for such a future, so I wrote a letter from my experience, strength, and hope as words of encouragement to sustain her on her journey. I wanted to pass on an excerpt of that letter to others who may need the same encouragement:
“I have been thinking long and hard for awhile about any wisdom or experience that I can share with you that would help as you start out on your professional career. I even go back a few years ago when I gave you a book on career planning that I hoped would prepare you for the many job searches that will occur in your work life—some you will get to choose, some that will be chosen for you.
You see, my “career” has consisted of 16 jobs since I graduated from college in 1981 (being employed anywhere from six months to six years). During that time, I have survived six layoffs lasting anywhere from three to nine months. I have also worked as a contractor for three different companies in the past four years. Every time, I managed to put food on the table, clothes on my back, a roof over my head, and put a few dollars in the bank for a rainy day as I accept that my “career” will often consist of looking for the next job.
With that in mind, I have tried to craft a resume for you based on what I know has worked for me. Take the words that are contained with not only my experience and wisdom, but also temper them with your own wisdom and experience as you find your way to where you want to go.
Still, just as important as the journey from here to there, is the kind of person you become along the way. You see, when I got laid off for the first time in 1994 (when you were not even in kindergarten), it gave me time to do more than just put food on the table, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head — It also gave me the opportunity to spend time with you and recite my three rules (as necessary): “Please and thank you. You have to listen to me. You cannot always have your way.” Those rules grew with time and experience to be the lessons of life that carried you off to college and I knew you would be all right.
These lessons of life will serve as your compass because they are the values that your parents and I have raised you so that, when that day eventually comes, you can go to farther off places and we will know you will be all right. “Please and thank you” is a reminder to be respectful of others, and that “No” is a complete sentence (no reason needs to be given). “You have to listen to me” is a reminder to consider others in your choices and be accountable to others for your actions. “You cannot always have your way” is a reminder that if it is not possible for you to accept people, places, situations, or outcomes for what they are, then it is probably about “you” rather than about “them”.
So, my fondest wish is that you find your path to a fulfilling life, passionate and exciting, with the knowledge that God has given you a purpose, meaning, and plan with the full support of your Mom, Dad, and I.”