NANOWRIMO DAY 2 – RESUMES AND CAREERS

What is it about resumes that makes you rethink your entire existence. If you’re Gen X like me, a resume update is a ticket on a fast train to realizing how old you are. I haven’t had to update my resume in a few years. I probably should since I got the promotion but I’m fairly superstitious and updating my resume feels like I’m looking for a job. And I’m totally not. I love my job. I love the people at my job. But because of my job, I see a lot of resumes.
Did you know the rules for resumes change? Yeah. Me neither. When did that happen? When I was in my teens and early twenties, you had a cover letter, a one page resume detailing your relevant work history, and three professional references. In the five interviews I have held for positions on my team, I have seen resumes that used more paper to print than we’ve used in the office all year. I’ve also had people apply with no resume whatsoever. Like, how? How did you do that? And because I’m the manager person, I need to ask them questions based on their resumes. What do you ask when you have nothing? Because my brain says, “Ask them why they don’t have a resume.” But I’ve been told you can’t just outright ask those types of questions. I feel like if I could outright ask someone, “Is this your first time or are you just dumb?” that would solve a lot of problems off the bat. And probably save a lot of time. And paper.
I just always saw the resume as a badge of adulthood. You hand, or now type, your work history and show people. Look, this is me. This is who I am. These are the things I’ve done. I look good on paper so hire me. It’s just always been this rite of passage for me. You turn in your resume with an application. That’s step one. They like it and you get an interview. That’s step two. Then you pretend to be a put together human for about an hour as you are questioned, grilled, and judged. And hopefully, invited back for either the job or a second interview.
The process for my manager position was excruciating. I didn’t want this position. Let me make that exceptionally clear. I never wanted to be a manager. I don’t like being the adult. Because managers are the escalation points. They’re the bad guys. The one the customer goes to when they are unhappy with the service they’ve received. I hate being the hard guy. I like handling things myself. If I’m your point of contact then contact me. Let’s work it out. Don’t go to my boss and tell on me like I’m an insolent child. We are adults. Or at least masquerading as such.
That’s not to say I don’t go to my manager when I have a question. Many times I ask her how to word something or how a dispute should be handled. In my experience, it’s frowned upon to tell a customer, “That sounds like a You problem so why are you yelling at me?” It’s also not good form to tell a technician, “How about you do your job and get out there and fix the problem?” I get why we can’t say these things. I also wish we had a customer service Purge day when we could just let loose and tell some of these people what’s up.
But that’s not very adult or mature of me. And definitely not managerial.
But I digress. When I applied, forced, for the manager position, I was told to update my resume. I didn’t understand why. The Human Resources manager told me so it could reflect the position I was in at that time. Why? My boss sees me. She knows what I’m doing. Her boss sees me. He knows what I’m doing. Hell, the CEO heard and saw me. It wasn’t a big office. It wasn’t hard to see me working or hear me on the phone. My boss and her boss are the ones who gave me the customers and tasks I was doing. And they must have thought I was doing it well enough to want me to be a manager. So why did I need to go through all these hoops?
So, I updated my resume. Because that’s what adults do. And I listed out everything I do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. And you know what I found out? It’s really hard to list what you do when you’re so used to doing it. I had to think about what I do. Then I started questioning myself. Is this relevant? Is this necessary? Does this sound like I’m padding? Why do I do this? Am I just wasting time? Is this just a waste of time?
Spoiler alert – I got the job. And now I’m training one of my team members on how to handle my customers. There’s only two but they are a handful. And I know she can do it. But here I am, again, in the position of trying to think of what I do on a regular basis and passing that information off to someone else.
And I guess this is part of the adulting side of it. I need to let go. I need to understand that even though I have been working with these customers on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis that they are not my customer anymore. I’ll still get to handle them but more when things are going the wrong direction. I am leaving them in good hands. Capable hands. Compassionate and empathetic hands.
But they’re not mine. And I’ve worked very hard to build the relationship of my company with these two customers. I’m proud of the work I’ve done with them over the past year and half.
And maybe I’m a little scared. I’m comfortable with customers and processes that I know and am familiar with. I know the way to word things, who to talk to, and how to get things done to make them happy. And still make us money. But stepping into a new role is so, well, new. It’s money, and angry people, and telling other adults what they should be doing.
That’s the one thing I don’t look forward to. I know eventually I’m going to have to fire someone. It’s inevitable. I’ve already had to have hard and uncomfortable conversations with people on my team. And I hate it every time. I’m also friends with everyone. And I know that’s a bad choice. Business and friendship and the like. Yeah. I get it. But I’ve always wanted to have a place where people felt comfortable. Good energy. Happy people. That’s what makes productive workers. I think.
I’m so bad at this manager stuff I bought four of those Dummies books. Management for Dummies. Project Management for Dummies. Leadership for Dummies. G Suite for Dummies. I use them all as reference when I have to interview someone, hold a team meeting…
Holy shit! I forgot the team meeting this month!
I even had it on my Google calendar. Are you kidding me? This is what I’m talking about. I’m supposed to manage a team and I can’t even manage myself. I mean, in my defense, Monday was Halloween and we were busing admiring each other’s costumes and stuffing our faces at the potluck.
A potluck I organized. Because that’s what managers do. At least the good ones, I think. And my team was pretty awesome at bringing stuff everyone could eat and drink. They even cleaned up after. That alone is worth it’s weight in Starbucks. It went so well, we’re already planning our Friendsgiving potluck. The only turkey will probably be with the meat and cheese tray. And that’s OK.
It’s an adventure. Being a manager isn’t always about the spreadsheets or deadlines or phone call meetings that could and should have been emails. It’s about finding the balance. Everyone talks about work/life balance. Here we have a work life balance. Life comes in the door with us. It’s clearly obvious by the cubicle everyone inhabits for those eight hours. We laugh. We cry. We stick my little voodoo doll in jars of dirt when people make us mad. And not all of us will be here next year.
We’ll manage. And so will I. Because as a manager of adults, it’s my job. And that’s what managers do. We find a way. We are the chief problem solvers. Even though it seems like I’m handing off my problems to someone else, I’m really just managing. I’m the problem solver. I’m the one who fixes it.
I like it better like that. When people think of managers, it’s usually the one really bad one you had. I want someone to look back in five, ten, twenty years, and think of me as their manager and smile.
I want to be the manager my manager is for me. My manager is a shining example of grace and leadership under pressure. I wish everyone had a Lilly in their lives. She has grown to be my boss, manager, counselor, guru, and friend. And I am so happy and grateful to have her on my side. My company is lucky to have her with us. I have watched her emails and heard her phone calls. The learning I got from just that is worth more than anything in a classroom. This was practical application of managerial skills.
So, I will sit, and read more emails. I will listen to more phone calls. And I will watch how she handles her team. I will remember how she handled me when I was the only one on the team. And I will strive to manage my team like Lilly. And I will strive to manage myself, knowing I’m still learning. And to treat myself with the same care and compassion and empathy I would extend to my team. Like an adult. Like the manager of adults.

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