Or does my CV make my butt look fat?
Article en français ici
I live in Brussels, Belgium. A city that does not sell green smoothies and has zero vegan restaurants. New stuff that is old somewhere else, somehow doesn’t find ground here. Brussels is fascinating, complex, and a bit slow. Which makes it a little funny. And oh, we have a 20.4% unemployment rate.
Last week, I read an article about a young woman who could not find work because she had too many qualifications. Tell me about the reality of our market. With too much experience (often an euphemism for ‘too old’), one is no longer exploitable. Without it, one is too slow to train. With degrees one is too expensive, and without any, one is a bit like nothing. And don’t get me started on qualified freelance jobs being paid less than a babysitter (netto). Or small companies utilizing human resources (material) for a year or two until burnout.
Back to ‘Two Master Degrees and Still No Job’. What is the solution, or rather: what is the problem? On online forums my questions were daring: “Why don’t you adapt your CV (resume) to the job you wish to find? Leave stuff out, highlight your aspirations!” My logic: it is about you, right? What if you have done stuff in the past that you really hate, or that is not relevant now? Leave it out! Take your life in your hands and build your dream! Is it your life, or are you owned by your degrees/experience?
The responses I got, revitalized my healthy sense of rebellion. “No, I can not leave things out, it would make my CV look bad!” or: “I would lie, and not be hired!”, “No way! How do I explain a gap of 2 years to an employer!?” And one lady told me about an official data bank that transmits records of obtained degrees about absolutely everybody. Get a degree, and your life no longer belongs to —. Right. The only person who can live your life. YOU.
Now let me think. You could tell them you took a break? Or that you simply lived. Or traveled. You decided to take care of your child. Or wanted to think after a bad choice, or be creative, write a book, volunteer in an animal shelter. Get to know yourself. Is that bad? Can a person really study for years without forming a vision of what they’d like to do? Is a degree an expensive paper in exchange for a job, no matter what, as long as it offers security? And do you agree schools and (payed) jobs are the only places to learn and progress?
I believe that thinking this way not only doesn’t suit reality, it doesn’t even support it! The job market has changed drastically, and requires initiative, lots of self employment, emancipation and creativity. And this is impossible without a little self knowledge. Time to get back to basics: what did you dream of when you were little? Find that old dream and let it inspire you. Create a vision, instead of waiting for a safe golden cage. Work on it every day. Get a coach. Do stuff. Get passionate about something. Talk to people. And if your degree does not serve your vision, do something else. Isn’t it absurd to be defined by an activity one may have had for a couple of years?
A few years ago, I was teaching groups of unemployed people, and gave job workshops to those who wanted. One young man with a Master Degree had an empty CV because the world was unwilling to give him the glamorous office job he was entitled to receive. However, in class I could tell he was not able to sit on a chair for more than 7 minutes, and when asked about the content of his so called dream job, our young wolf had no clue. He really didn’t want the job he told everyone he was looking for. No wonder his overall state was pretty bad. (If you wish to know what happened next, leave me a message. I promise, it’s a nice story.)
Seeing so many people live in function of an acceptable curriculum devoid of any sense or vision, does not give me much hope. This country has the highest suicide rate in Europe, and our capital city, one of the highest unemployment rates. I think we can no longer afford to encourage people to build their lives on the construction of a CV. A curriculum needs to empower the person and not drain them. Our society will never bloom and prosper with people who are willing to kill their dreams and creativity in favor of bits of paper. What we need is inspiration. Let us strive to live an empowering life. A good resume will follow.
writing and editing in NL/FR/EN
qualified social interpreter
volunteer social worker