Revising some concepts – or “and you thought you knew what a resume was”

So, let’s revise some concepts today folks, because there are some stuff we believe to have a universal meaning but in reality they don’t. At all. So it’s good to clarify that some things might exist in different countries around the world, but their purpose might actually differ quite a lot from one country to the other.

Let’s take the example of a resume.

Back to basics: what IS a resume? One could think that it is a document in which one sums up one’s professional experience and academic background in a way to try and convince those nice people from HR that you’re the best person for a job open they’ve posted. Are we confortable with that? Great. So that means that a resume is a fundamental tool for someone who’s looking for a job. Hell, I’d say THE most important tool.

But that’s not really what a resume is in the US.

Oh my dear American friends, once again you surprise us all by picking something that was perfectly functional and practical in the rest of the world and ta-da! Play a bit with the purpose of it. Kinda in the way you do it with the metric systems. Really funny, you guys!

Ok, so here’s the deal: it’s not like people don’t ‘know’ resumes in the US. They do and they know it’s something you use when you’re looking for a job. But its purpose here is not to help you find a job. Rumor has it that actually no one, in the entire history of America has ever landed a job just through sending a Word document to the HR department. Ever. The purpose of the resume around here is to make it so the person who’s looking for a job feels productive and materializes his/her job search.

It’s an instrument to pacify unemployed folks. That’s all.

And it’s not just that, because you don’t have to only send the resume, which would take you 15secs between writing an email and attaching a doc to it. Na-an.

“They” want to guarantee that the unemployed occupies a large slice of his/her time in this task. Maybe they think that the more time you spend on the process of sending out a resume, the soother you’ll be, happy to be actively doing your job search.

So not only do you have to prepare and send your resume, but you also have to write a personalized cover letter, explaining why you specifically have an interest and would be “a great fit” for that company.

And you add to that a questionnaire that was carefully crafted by smart, but sadist psychologists, aimed at leaving the applicant in a complete state of agony and despair. An average questionnaire of this type will not only frequently ask you completely irrelevant questions (sign? Summer or winter? Allergic to nuts? Favorite Harry Potter book?) but it will also make you fill out, by ‘hand’ all the information that is already stated on your resume.


“Yep, you got it right, dear applicant: please type in your entire CV again in this lovely 12 step registration program we’ve created. And don’t worry. We’ve made sure that it’s done in a format that will make it really annoying for you to copy-paste. Thank you so much for the interest in our company and good luck!”

And in the end, the question that is just impossible to be answered correctly by 90% of Brazilians: “Do you consider yourself Latin American, African descendent or European descendent”? Uhmmm… Is there an “All the above” option?

So you’ve learned through any LinkedIn group chat or blog entitled “7 ways to land a job in the US – guaranteed” that the chances you’ll get a job through that process is about the same as bumping into Beyoncé in the subway, but that’s one of the few things you have in hands, so you still do it.

At this point you might ask me: so HOW does one get a job in the US then?! Ahh, my dear friends, the word is networking. You have to go to every kind of event remotely related to your field of work, stick a name tag on your chest that sadly brands you as “Camila – unemployed” (which you will always forget to take it off and will only hours later understand the sad looks people were throwing at you at Starbucks) and chat around as if you were the LeBron James of social skills.

My goodness, is there anything less pleasant than this situation? It’s like a job fair meets speed date, in which you have to keep thinking on what to say next, how to impress everyone with your memorized elevator pitch and still sound amazing and cool.

Why would they make people go through that? I say let’s go back to the old good resume, great professional background sum up, objective way to see if someone will fit a job or not. Sounds pretty effective to me!

Anyway, gotta go know, just bumped into Beyoncé at the subway and she’s come over to help me send some resumes. Wish me luck.



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