02 February, 2010

Resumes/CVs are the worst

I was going to say that they're inaccessible but I think that while resumes make me especially anxious as a person with ASD, they probably kind of suck for everyone, and it's not necessary for me to frame it as an ASD thing. They're just a bad idea.

It is better to have an application that's a form all the way through. It can ask for "previous jobs" and "experience in this field" and all the information you're supposed to put on a resume. There seems to be no reason to ask for a resume instead and a resume is a bad idea for several reasons:

1. It is just more work to type up and format a resume in a word processor and then save it and attach it to your application, or print it and attach it if your application is a physical one.

2. It seems like the employer can get better information by asking exactly what they want to know. The applicant might not have the same ideas as the employer about what is relevant information.

3. It is a lot harder to figure out from scratch what you are supposed to say than it is to follow a form. I tend to think of this as an ASD thing, but it's hard for me to imagine that figuring out things from scratch is an activity even normal people enjoy. To write a resume, you have to figure out what you have done that's relevant, how to organize it, and how to describe the experience and its value. When you're answering questions on a form, you just have to describe it.

I do think it's harder for me than it is for normal people (this stuff is always difficult for me to judge, I'm not inside their heads and frequently I think I'm just a big faker--at the same time I can get pretty nervous and exhausted, so I guess I'm real). I didn't get a job last summer and while part of this was the recession, I would have applied to more jobs earlier in the year if I didn't find job applications to be incredibly overwhelming. First they ask you to find a lot of information like the phone numbers of previous employers--which is perfectly understandable, even though it involves me feeling incredibly anxious about having to ask people for references, which is dumb because they usually don't even check your references, I think. Actually what is the point of references, then? Well, anyway. Just as soon as you have yourself in fact-finding gear, they make you switch to a gear where you describe your previous experience. Okay, that's easy, I like my experiences. But then you have to switch into the terrible gear where you're supposed to talk about your emotions and why you want the job and would be good at it.

So, here's the thing: presumably I'm a good writer. But I'm not good at writing the way I'm supposed to. I remember my parents and guidance counselor making me rewrite my college essay a million times because the writing style was "too young" (obviously I am "too young"--that's what DD means, and lots of people who meet me think I'm four or five years younger than I am--but it wasn't okay for me to be visibly "too young" because apparently that said something negative about me). Also, I dreaded essay questions on tests until the middle of high school because, invariably, just answering the question wasn't enough. As a younger person I was constantly being coached and corrected after I sent emails or made phone calls, because I supposedly didn't say enough.

So, you can imagine why "Explain why you should have this job" or "How did you become interested in [whatever disability population I'm applying to work with]?" makes me feel very...oh, boy, I'll finish this next week. Or next millennium. It's not because I'm not qualified for the job or because I don't have a lot of genuine and sincere interest in it. It's because I don't know all the other stuff that is required, besides telling the truth--and being a 21-year-old, I tend to want to squander my spoons on a trip to the burrito store or a movie with someone who makes me nervous. Not admirable, but pretty average, I think.

Actually, given my areas of interest, I have to figure out if the truth is even called for. Last year I basically lied on my job applications and in my interviews, which made the whole process a lot more difficult. It's hard to explain how you got interested in disabilities or why you think you are good with DD people if you can't explain that you have a developmental disability yourself. I guess I thought they would think I was a serial killer, or at least a bad role model. Instead I must have just seemed like someone who had a very hard time answering simple questions.

By this point, I feel that it's not worth it; I'm a college student with parents who don't especially care if I have a paying job, so even though it would upset me to not have a job, it's not the end of the world if I don't get hired because I'm honest about my ASD. Next year when I'm looking for a more permanent situation, I may have to break out some fake backstory about an ASD cousin or something, just to be safe--but for the time being, if my disability is part of a relevant, truthful answer to a question, I'm not going to hide it.

So that makes things better. But to make things worse, there's still the resume. And people who don't answer your emails and you have to email them again feeling like you're going to barf because you know YOU ARE BOTHERING THEM. YOU'RE SO OBNOXIOUS. But regular people are obnoxious and they just don't think about it. And that's why they have jobs.


  1. What about a portfolio (your magazine and some of your music, as well as written stuff, for example the How to be human category)?

    There are so many ways to promote yourself online.

  2. I was thinking about interviews and filling out job applications the other day. I had someone help me make a resume but interviews and job applications are just as bizarre to me.

    You are freaking me out a little because I will have something on my mind and then I read your blog and there it is. It's either some sort of supernatural psychic wavelength or just me being a paranoid autistic person. Probably the latter.

  3. I actually found writing a resume to be fairly easy, and potential employers keep telling me my resume is well-written and contains exactly what they need to know.

    It has a list of all the lab techniques I can do, and also a list of all the science courses I've ever taken.

    Not having a work history, I kind of *have* to go into intensive detail about my educational background, otherwise I'd just have a blank sheet of paper. The choice was kind of made for me in that sense.

    But yes, "tell me why you should have this job" has always been a stumper for me.