The anti-résumé, or my personal manifesto
Posted on November 8th, 2012
I enjoyed writing this post, although the more I wrote, the vaguer it became. (So it wasn’t quite as fun as I thought it might be.) It’s not so much as an anti-résumé as a personal manifesto.
I don’t know what I think to get out of it, because — in all honesty — I don’t know exactly what it is I want to do. Ideally, I want someone to hire me to think, say, and/or write clever or snarky or brilliant things. Preferably part time, because I still have five-year-old to work my life around. It doesn’t matter to me if that is a law job or a non-law job…or (most likely) if that means I get to wait for my writing ship to come in for a while longer. I just am what I am. You know?
Things I am proud of:
- I overcame a crippling fear of heights to carry heavy equipment up ladders in order to work on equipment that some genius thought needed to put up really high. No. No, it doesn’t. This is where I learned that being the girl in an otherwise all-boy operation means you have to do everything better, faster, and with more elan than the guys. And…you’ll still get sexually harassed. Ah, well. I climbed the ladders and I’m proud of it.
- I turned out to be relatively normal, given a hell of a screwed-up childhood.
- When I was 21, I organized a union.
- In multi-plaintiff litigation, in which the rock stars of my specialty all had horses in the race and briefs in the fire (or some other metaphor), guess whose argument was adopted by the court? Using out-of-state case law that was only barely on point? In a case where the statute of limitations had been blown years before? Mine. That’s how good my brief writing skills are. Yeah, I know it’s not cool for women to brag. I am, anyway. And all those other plaintiffs got to recover, too, not just my guy.
- The only time I argued in the state’s court of appeals, it was against one of the best (maybe the best in the civil arena?) appellate lawyers in the state. There was no case law on point. I used out-of-state case law that was only barely on point. Guess whose argument was adopted by court? Mine. Yeah. I’m bragging again.
- I liked appearing in court and arguing motions of law, but I don’t care if I ever do it again. I did pretty well, but I can take or leave it. The stress of preparation cancels out the rush of winning and I just end up with a net “meh.” And it leaves me really tired.
Skills I am proud of:
- I don’t multitask. I do one thing at a time, and that’s all I try to do at a time. (No one can multitask; it’s impossible.)
- I can talk to anyone about anything. This is a byproduct of that childhood.
- I’m a “no” person. I will say, nicely, all the ways something can go wrong. It’s a combination of a great imagination and a naturally cautious nature. If I’m told to do it anyway, I will. And I’ll do the best job I can. But I’ll explain the problems first.
- Unless I’m being asked to do more work. Then I suck at saying no. I’m not joking here…I really don’t know how to say no. I blame the Protestant work ethic.
- I know how I work best. That is a skill, yes.
- I can explain the same basic computer concepts over and over again to the same person in the same tone of voice. It’s an operator voice. When I was 24, I had a boss I had to teach how to copy and paste….every day. When I was 34, I had a different boss I had to teach how to copy and paste (and open a new document)…every day.
- I can fix my own computer, the network, and the problem we’re having with the printer.
- Motions for summary judgment: I read them for copy errors. I read them for errors of reasoning. I read for procedural errors. And then I respond, I argue, and I win.
- I worked for one of the weirdest practitioners in my city. I made him a lot of money. (I didn’t make a lot of money, and he reneged on our handshake employment agreement, which is a big part of why now I prepare for the worst.) Part of my job was telling him if his pants were zipped up (no, this wasn’t sexual harassment). I burned out, like all of his employees, but I lasted a lot longer than I thought was possible.
Stuff I believe:
- I believe in behaving honorably in all things. In line at the grocery store. In court. With opposing counsel. With staff. I don’t care what most people think of me, but I want to be a person my daughter and husband will be proud of.
- Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien. (The perfect is the enemy of the good.) I’m a recovering perfectionist. No, it’s not a secret advantage. Perfectionism sucks.
- I expect other people to behave honorably in all things, but…I prepare as if they won’t. I don’t like surprises.
- Treat staff with respect, and you will get their best work.
- Related: If an employee isn’t working, it’s best to part ways as soon as you figure it out.
- Related: Tolerating assholes at work just leads to more assholes.
- Related: I forgive almost any slight except actions taken with deliberate malice or an insult to my kid. (In which case, I’m ready for a blood feud.)
- I believe in owning up to mistakes, right away.
You should know:
- I dress up (for this city). When you’re short and look young, you figure out you’re being judged on your appearance. This may seem at odds with not caring what most people think, but bear in mind I care to be treated well. So even though I could type this in yoga pants and a t-shirt, I’m wearing a wool skirt, silk sweater, and a cashmere hat. In my home office. I don’t care how other people look (and I don’t judge unless it’s an egregious brown/black/navy transgression), but this is what I do.
- I have an “on” mode and an “off” mode. I was raised this way. I used to hate it, but it means I can and will perform when necessary, whatever performance entails (negotiations, court appearances, social functions). The down side is prolonged “on” mode leaves me exhausted.
- I have a low threshold for BS. I own my mistakes. I expect other people to own theirs, too. I am completely intolerant of people who try to cover up their mistakes.
- I hate pointless meetings, and I will deliberately derail them when I think I’m being jerked around.
- I hate being sold to. I think it’s demeaning to both parties.
- I am (probably) better than you at: writing, editing, grammar, history, literature, and understanding what motivates people. If you are better than me at these things, I will beg to go work for you. Pretty please?
- I am (absolutely) worse than you at: sports, TV, politics, current events, and I’m sure a ton of other things.
- But I love to learn new things.
- I enjoy people. Really.
- I have a very eccentric, cruel family, which I managed to escape. I’ve been dining out on their nuttiness for years. And…that cruel family and upbringing pretty much informs everything else I’ve written.