wild turtle crossing

slow: writer at play

Vivian Henoch

Vivian Henoch
Northville, Michigan, USA
June 17
Writer and editor:myJewishDetroit.org
I write around. Follow me on Twitter @vivianhenoch or @myJDetroit


OCTOBER 25, 2011 12:08PM

Resuming: the Search for Work

Rate: 15 Flag

“Over-caffeinated writer . . . power-doodler, scribbler of words and big pictures. . .


Strategic. Creative. Team leader. Team player.  Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor. . . stil seeking. . . 



Uch!  If there’s anything more mind-numbing than reading a resume, it’s got to be writing one.  

Know any good resume doctors out there?   Bring ’em on.  Send me their names. My resume needs work. 

Seems to me that my resume was doing just fine, humming along, minding its own business.  It was short and sweet and sassy, when slam-bam, the doors closed on my place of employment and I was sent packing . . . off to see new Wizards, to seek new adventure and fortune, to follow the Yellow Brick Road, portfolio in hand.  

Uch.  If there’s anything more exciting and challenging than working at a job you love, it’s got to be finding another job you love... 


"Good luck," they tell me. 


Now, if only I had a resume-brain: I would take my current resume and shred it.  Cut it to pieces. Reader-friendly?  Who cares!  What I need is computer-friendly, a quick and easy scan online.  A resume is a document, plain and clear, a record of achievements  - not a showboat of work.  For godsake, pity the poor, beleaguered readers in HR who wade through hundreds of resumes just like mine, eating them for breakfast every morning.  


Uch. If only I could take my own words of advice.  

Can there be anything worse than a writer - overwriting a resume?  I don’t think so.  Every time I pull from my files that current “word perfect” resume, I find something imperfect. I revise, I proofread, I second-guess my reader, and revise again, and even then,  I can’t give it a rest.  


Crazy and sad, but true. You’d think after all these years - writing for a living -  that writing a killer resume would be a no-brainer.  Well, not for me.  


Why is everything that I put on the page never enough - and always too much?  Why do I feel every line needs justification?  Why must every word carry its weight in gold?   In what font will the finished document speak volumes? 


Why can’t I keep it simple? What will it take to put that ever-ready smile and best foot forward in cyberspace without losing my footing (and headings, margins and windows) and falling into the abyss where resumes are never seen and companies are never heard from again?




Please, won’t someone just tell me: 


  • Who’s out there, actually reading those resumes submitted online? 
  • How do you flaunt a “wealth of experience” without flashing your age? 
  • Does brevity show confidence and authority?  Or does it suggest a lack of imagination?
  • When asked for writing samples, do pictures work, too?
  • And yikes, is that a typo I just-this-minute discovered in the first line of my cover letter?  

It is said that one’s resume should be a living document (something akin to a living will?)  Keep it current, they say.  Stay hungry, stay foolish, stay curious, never let your guard down on the job, be ready for the next thing, because it’s coming your way sooner than you think.   Get out that resume and update, update, update...


Updating daily, I will say this: grappling with my current resume has been a learning experience -  deflating and frustrating at times, but a learning experience all the same. 


Based on that experience and in the immortal words of my father,  “Do as I say, not as I do,”  let me share with you:


Five Cardinal Sins of Resume-Writing


1. Cleverness.  I could describe how I landed a position at a Jewish organization by mentioning gefilte fish on my resume, but forget it.  Humor on a resume is rarely in the eye of the beholder.  


2. Wordiness: Keeping the writing crisp and short gives you the edge, not to mention fewers margins for grammatical errors and typos.  


3. Carelessness.  Face it, even with a B.A. in English, the best of intentions and the keenest eye, you’re going to miss a typo  -- or a misapplied SpellCheck (like turning an “excerpt” into except.)    Give yourself some time. Cut your resume a break. Have at least two other people proof your work.  And to proofread on your own, read outloud -- slowly. 


4. Blandness:  according to experts, including Resumes for Dummies,  an effective resume is chock-full of powerful, action words.  It’s not enough to be responsible.  Don’t just manage. Launch. Lead. Take charge. Spearhead. Initiate. Excel. Spin your tale. But be truthful. 


5. Artsiness:  Unless you’re a rock star, don’t use a photo.  Unless you’re a graphic designer, loose the logo.   Avoid columns and other quirks of formatting.   Use bullets and stick to basic, computer friendly fonts.



Last Words:  Resume. Shmesume. 


Keep in perspective that your resume is only a tool, a blunt object you pick up, dust off and polish from time to time. Getting the job done is still about networking - it’s who you know, where you’ve been, the links and friends, colleagues and the real connections you’ve made.  

So much for my little pep-talk-to-myself today. If you’ve got advice and experience, resume-wise or otherwise, your words of wisdom are welcome here.  And thanks for stopping by.




(And this just in from LinkedIn...)


  1. 5 minutes To Optimize Your Linkedin Profile 
  2. What Color Is Your Parachute? Hope In A Desperate Marketplace. (video)
  3. Have You Lost Hope In The Job Market ? NBC News Reports (Video)
  4. “2011 Fair Playing Field Act to Protect All American Workers Against Age Discrimination”
  5. New Job Market For Boomers:Short Term Employment
  6. How To Work For A Younger Boss.(NBC Today Show Video)
  7. Are You Prepared For Tricky Behavioral Interview Questions? 
  8. Job Hunting Tips For Professionals Over 40

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I would hope that this could get into broad circulation for all those looking for work and trying to put together a resume which will garner the attention of the "bots" which now scrutinize them.
Regretably, I may be back to doing precisely that soon--crafting a resume and searching. Seems as though my I'm a better sales trainer than sales person.
Good Luck Vivian.. You have a DVD? wowwwwwwww.. Looks pretty impressive to me and I agree the gefilte fish is probably not a good idea>>:)

Your resume portfolio looks pretty snazzy. Good luck!
My experience with resumes is only from the ones I receive from writers who want to teach at my small school of creative writing. I barely glance at their tiresome, boring resumes that all sound the same to me. I tell them that I'd much rather just read a conversational cover letter where they tell me about themselves in a couple of fresh, lively, succinct paragraphs, and then give me a couple of examples of how they would write up their own course descriptions to put on my website, where real people read those course descriptions. This, to me, is a much better way to get a sense of the "applicant." I couldn't care less about the resume, and if I do look at it, it better grab me almost instantly, or I will fall instantly fall fast asleep.
Good luck Vivian! I'm sure your resume is perfect. It just needs to reach the right person.
Who told you that about a photo? Unless you look like Atilla the Hun you should add a small photo in the corner of your introduction letter. It seriously "introduces" you to anyone reading a stack of resumes and may separate you from the pack. No one but you, Vivian, can make a terrible, horrible. no-good, very bad thing like resumes look so delicious. Well done!
well, if only your prospective boss could read this, you'd be hired and done. i'd hate to be dealing with what you are, but i like your last bits of advice the best, the part about connections and links and friends. and i have to say i'm with brazen on the photo. having been the boss who was looking at the stuff that got sent in, i'd say a tasteful photo is definitely a plus. (that other stuff you took pics of, with the terrific graphics? that's great looking stuff, V, even if it's not appropriate for what you're after now.)
Thanks, Brazen and Candace -- the photo no-no was advice I got from a "free" resume reader, trying to sell me a $250 service. The suggestion was that a photo would automatically be discarded by HR - as it would reveal age, race, gender (and in my case, grey hair.)
love the art on your portfolio!
the one thing worse than writing a resume is writing a query letter
Agreed!! Absolutely, nothing's harder than a query letter, to sell a book you've poured your heart into. Best of luck putting your book out there -- you're hunting for big game.
Wonderful post and your paperwork is Art. I have heard that the cover letter is important and that the resume should be one page. I love putting a photo on it. I also think that you can have many different versions of resumes handy. An Art one and one for McDonalds. Just saying....good luck.
I've been in your shoes and I feel for you! It sounds like you're doing all the right things, though. It sucks that passionate, qualified people like you are out of the workforce. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!
Thanks Zanelle and Felicia,

Still hoping (against hope) that the Detroit Science Center will reopen its doors (sooner than later) and that somehow I will be retained as a consultant for the projects that so abruptly were ripped from my hands. Ah, do I protest too much?
In the meantime, I'm up and at'em this a.m, getting yet another resume ready for email. . .yup, there's life after lay-off.
One thing you don't want to put in your resume is how you killed a man just to watch him die!! :D (I thought it showed like 'Get 'er done' attitude and going beyond the service!! ~:( ~:D

One of the companies I put in for actually would rather you submit them a 'Video' than a regular old cover letter. I'm thinking of creating one, just cause I can!! :D
I'd hire you for your stationery alone.
Wishing you the best. I think you've got this.
Vivian, I am doing exactly this. Writing my resume...actually..creating a web site to use as my resume. Had a professional photographer along with a firm of professionals, who are specialists in this...create mine. It is hard to write about yourself. But in the long run, net working is the most important. I also like to go fishing. Am hoping the web site will provide me with some new bait. Will send you more information via message if you are interested. By the way, I think your resume looks fantastic.
Thanks some more... for your comments.
Tink-- your response made me chuckle, a twist on "killer" resume (careful what you wish for, I guess) Go for the DVD-- I'm guessing you'll knock a few socks off.
Pauline-- for stationery alone - it's taken a lot of time, effort (and money) and to tell the truth, my design sense hasn't paid off for my market here in Detroit. I could use something more industrial- strength and automotive... like those orange barrels on the road (for work in progress...) hey not a bad idea. Like it!
Ande -- yes, please do send me your creative sources. I've got my reel on SmugMug... and am also looking at a freebie (and cheap hosting) site called Wix -- seems I can slap something almost-decent together right there, to be done in no time, well some time...
I'm slogging through resumes right now- -over 100 for one position.
I wish a few of them read your post first...
Too bad I'm not hiring a writer---your package looks impressive.
Good luck, Vivian!
The easiest way to get a job is to start your own business, or have someone who owes you get you one. That being said, be who you are. If you successful that will come through, it you are talented that will be seen. Realistically just be yourself on paper. It is the references that will give you the biggest problems.
Pretty cool looking resumes! And a dvd? Girl you are way ahead of the pack~
Great post!