Writing a resume at 42 years of age, (I decided against “old”) is an excersize using all underused areas of the brain. Writing a resume from scratch, as a stay at home mom, 17 years after the last resume you wrote, in less than the 24 hours that you allowed yourself (thinking it would take 2 of those hours, max, because, come on, what is being a mom if not producing the miraculous out of the thin air of imagination into reality every single day?) is simply put, the largest, most punishing, brutal honest self-assessing task you have performed in said 17 years.
Birthing three children, I had help. Birthing this new identity, it’s all me, baby.
There is not a whole lot of information out there for women in my position. That is, there is not a ton of published information. I have no doubt that there is a vast untapped resource, it is just that it is temporarily stored inside the spirits and minds of millions of women who have bravely faced this mountain of “returning to work in the public sector”, and have climbed, sans equipment, hands and feet scaling up their own uncertain, unmarked, undiscovered paths.
A friend I admire and love sent me a job listing this week, the first one I’d seen in all these years that made me sit up, made my heart beat a tiny quick step faster, made that interesting part of my brain light up; and as I drove home after reading the text I tried to pinpoint the emotion I was feeling. Then I hit on it, I was excited! Not an emotion I have been all that much of within the last year. Or two. Maybe three.
In early August my blog will have its one year anniversary. This is something so mammoth in its happening, so unbelievable to the me of a year ago, that it’s going to require some celebrating.
This past year has seen transitions epic in Jurassic size for no only me, but a couple of people I’m blessed to know, and when catching up with them each recently, they have shared a sentiment I echo:
“Wow, I can’t believe where I am now, thinking about where and who I was a year ago!!”
There is something to this year thing. I wrote about it early on in this blog, a sort of written (and turns out super effective) therapy. I’ve always thought that after any big life change, pick your poison: new addition to your life in the form of a pet or a person or a life enhancing technology (my iPad Air), job loss, loss of a loved one, national tragedy, move to a new city, state, country, home; it takes a year to fully heal, fully process what was to what is.
And healing, I’ve found, is not a point A to point B kind of graphing equation. It’s far more circular, and correct me if I have forgotten my shapes, but a circle has no beginning or end.
((Note: being a parent has given me a re-education of sorts in elementary math. My boys know quite well that I stopped being the parent to approach for math homework puzzles beyond Kindergarten. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been learning right along with them. (And only if you are an educator teaching common-core could you help your child with math now, anyway. I dare every politician, administrator and education higher-up who makes and installs mandatory testing and curriculum; come and teach in a real life classroom for a week, then we’ll talk. Then maybe you get to do your job. That’s a blog post for another day.))
Seasons change. Some drag their feet, as willing to move as a traumatized toddler to a dentist appointment. Some flow like an all to fast raging river in flood stage. Others look nothing like they were originally designed to function, wearing the clothing of another season. (Thanks “progressive” 20th and 21st century humanity for global warming. You’ve totally ruined my four season home.)
So here I sit. Typing a blog post when I need to be editing my resume. My scary, larger than life, depressing, exciting, anxiety producing, humiliating, angst ridden task page sitting so innocently in Pages.
1999. January. I opened Microsoft word, updated my recent work experience, printed a copy of my cover letter and resume doc, and mailed it to the last position and place where I would work for someone and was compensated for said work. That was it. It was a 100 times easier than this time around.
2015. June. I settled into my faux industrial wood and metal chair at the most urban recently updated starbucks in Spokane. I consumed my melty grilled cheese as I Pinned 26 ideas on what to include in your resume for teachers, 49 of the best resume templates you’ll want to steal, 32 power words to include in your resume and for good measure, an ice cream recipe I can make for the 4th. I happily took notes listing my volunteer work, my skill sets, and work experience as I sipped my sugar and whip Carmel-ribbon concoction of joy.
Then when my hands were empty, I sat, ready to type. Okay, I thought, so the research took an hour, well, I’ll be done in the next hour. I texted home to say so. Then, typing my name into a template, I realized this is actually real. No matter what I think my qualifications are, no matter how much I believe I am completely able and entirely willing to accomplish whatever job is set before me, I have to concisely and confidently describe that in a one page 8-1/2×11 rectangle.
Which by the way, I no idea how to do. At least in 2015,. Which led me to research how to write a modern resume as a SAHM returning to the outside work world. And I discovered that I need to actually work on my Linkedin profile that I started because well, everyone has one. (Tip: Huge for employers now.) Take a look at and clean up all of my profile pictures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and my blog so that if someone actually wants to see me face to face, they’ll be able to recognize me. (So, goodbye gorgeous photo from 2010). Also, I found 23 cliche and out of date words to eliminate from your resume.
That’s when I sent my frowny face text to my sisters that conveyed what I was feeling. I will re-enact for you now, in an emoticon sentence.
I’m so nervous and I feel like crying. I need more coffee. When I graduated with my one degree, a Bachelors in Elementary Education, we thought fax machines were the new future in technology, we still used floppy disks and had 20 disk CD changers in our cars! Time is ticking too fast and my stock has gone down, it’s the 11th hour and I’m seeing warning signs! Ok, so one skill I have is the ability to play the piano and sing. Write that down. I need more coffee. This feels like the dark side of the moon, or a total eclipse of the heart. The mountain ahead is so massive, I’ve got not strength to climb. Ha! I like this pig, it makes me laugh. I feel so unworthy. Yeah, I have been married almost 19 years and have raised three relatively happy and healthy boys. Now I am teary. In Starbucks. Go order more coffee, decaf now. With cream and three raw sugars. Why don’t they have Top-Pot donuts anymore? I’ve never clicked with the “cafe” line of treats. Deep breath now. Boarding roller coaster. Hit send.
Maybe I need to go to Target to clear my head. Thinking……waiting……
I know what you are thinking ( because moms are masters at reading minds)- my emoticon sentence is so super streamlined!
That’s when I stood up, thanked my exceptional barista, who could have been my son and who wanted to nickname me hollywood on my cup but typed in hollyhood, stuffed my technology into my hipster reusable bag, grabbed my backpack purse (because it’s summer, and I’m a mom, and actually it’s really cute) and dropped them into my van.
Before I left, however, I visited the Fro-Yo place next door, piled some Tart with fresh raspberries and sat outside on the shady side of the Staurbucks, streetside, watching the rest of the world fly by in cars. All headed somewhere.
A warm breeze fluttered the forest green bistro umbrella above me, shading me from the shade, frozen yogurt cooled my mouth, and I Iistened to the twenty-six year (they talked about their age) old women at the other table talk, as their conversation floated my way; about where to go eat out, and about the cute guy she was with the other day who could only listen to Christian music. I really like the blue shade the one girl had dyed her hair, I thought. I bet I would have totally done colors if that had been big in my teens and twenties.
As I let my gaze take in the concrete jungle scenery, I scanned the empty lot filled with weeds, the gas station across the corner, and then my eyes caught on an entrance to the church directly across the three lane one way street.
The church had stood in that place for long decades, the city changing like a time-lapse photo around its brick walls, inhabited now by a new denomination, same faith. The double doors at the top of the three or four concrete steps were a deep red, but the color just drew my eye to the words inscribed in the stone above the doors, from long before this day.
“GOD WILL TEACH”.
I couldn’t see the end of the sentence from where I sat, but I liked the composition of the picture I saw, and so tapped a few pictures to later edit.
Then it sunk in. As much as I knew God had sent this opportunity my way, as much as I had prayed the many years before for something, anything outside of watching the world go by outside my front window as I washed my family’s dishes, I’m not sure I had invited help from my Source of all for the acutal gritty getting the words down on paper work of my resume writing.
I think most of my years before this past one, which is a story all it’s own, I had taken to believing that questioning myself, my every motive, every thought, every deed, every step was just the way I had to live. We get some of that from those around us, some from the messages slammed our way every day, some we mistakenly take on, not knowing any other way of thinking about who we are. But humility isn’t shame.
There is a vast canyon separating shame and confident humility. One means you know who you are. One means you are imprisoned by who you think you should be.
To be able to write a resume, any resume, is to own who you are. To write your story from a place of content and peace, knowing that what you have been, and who you are, is a wonderfully unique and complex outcome of a life of billions of choices, occurances, meetings, losses and loves.
To live a life like that, a life worth living, that has been my quest, my pursuit this past year, and really my whole life. It just took timing.
When you look back at your past year, or your past careers, or maybe as I am prone to do, often, examine your whole life, the lens you view it with is everything. The lens doesn’t change the actual facts, the realities, the truths of your story, or the characters. But seeing things fuzzy, distorted, wavy, that doesn’t make us defective; it just means we haven’t been fitted yet with the best magnification for correcting our defects of vision.
If you have the correct presciption, if you find the wisest counsel, if you find a vetted map, you will find your way to the place you seek.
This is what I learned after my seventeen years and less than twenty-four hours self-sought resume writing course.
1. Before you actually choose your template, your font, your power words, find you. Choose you for the position. Choose a position for you.
2. All the resume tips and hints in the world may get you looks, may even get you interviews, but they don’t define you. You define you. Take the time to schedule things that make you shine, make you feel good, before you get to the hard work of defining how you fit into the position you are applying for.
3. You are really painting a picture, solving an equation, writing a story for whom or what ever you are applying to. The most courageous thing you can do is to be open, to be honest about the actual you. Because if you get the actual job, the actual you is going to be performing and carrying the workload. For the sake of the work community you may be joining, and for the sake of your mental health, be real. Think through if you will do any and all work set before you? Do you have the strength, and the resources or the will to find them, to be all in?
4. Most workplaces and/or work involve people. There is no perfect person. There are, however, an infinity of personalities, upbringings, values and experiences piled into each and every one of us. There are very few who come to adulthood completely emotionally and relationally intelligent. If you notice that on this spectrum, you struggle a bit with relationships in any part of your life, know that there is training. You get further training in a specific career, getting people skill training is exactly the same. Give yourself that gift.
5. Do your best. Yes, I know, in this American, and increasingly so, world economy, that sounds ridiciulous and child-like. Exactly. Here’s the deal; each person at any given time, is doing their best. Even if you think (assume) otherwise. You only get to be you, and you only get to be in your head, your heart, your body. Start there. Stay there. Do the best you can do. Grace is easier than judgement. For all involved.
So, I didn’t help you format your resume, nor mine. And I haven’t edited my resume, yet. Time is ticking. But it is time that I have needed to even get to this place, this space of being sure of who I am.
And I’m done letting myself down. Of all the projects I’ve procrastinated on, of all the promises I haven’t kept, and of all the things I told myself I would do and didn’t, none have ever left me feeling anything but shame. Guilt, I can live with. It’s a thing telling me that I let someone down, and I can take steps to make amends. Shame, however, shame is a bully and a liar, and all it tells me, all it tells you, is that you failed all those times before, nothing has changed, and so we will never be able to change.
Of the jobs I’ve held, created, built, been offered, turned down, accepted, been rejected from and applied for, at 42 years, I’ve had enough.
I have enough. Training, skills, strength, apptitude, intelligence, adaptability, experience, exposure, counseling, education, flexibility, excellence in and for and at. I have passion for this position, for today, this place I’ve landed, and climbed, and crawled and ran to get to.
So whatever I send today as my completed resume, I will stand in it. If it is a representation of me, at this moment in time, the best possible I can do, then, yes, I am who I say am I.
And a whole lifetime more.
It’s time. I’m going to update this blog post, exchange my slippers for my Camper boots, and go to the mountain to climb over my insecurity and the old echoing voices telling me I’m not good enough for this, or for anything.
And then I’m going to make that ice cream recipe I pinned. It’s hard work climbing. Also, it’s going to be 100 degrees here. Spokane isn’t supposed to be hot or summerlike until after the Fourth of July. That’s a fact that locals have relied on for decades.
Times are changing. That’s fine. I’ve got this.