Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Career: Fitting in while standing out...

Many of the students who are soon going to graduate must be currently sitting through a lot of job interviews in hopes of getting placed at a decent company with a decent package and moderate scope for painless promotions in the foreseeable future. However, even though often you are told to be honest in an interview, the honesty doesn’t quite pay off. Some white lies are bound to be spoken at the spur of the moment trying to add more worth to your 3-4 years of fun-filled college life, than there actually is.

However, we can’t be the sole blame-bearers of this unfortunate situation. Remember the time we were asked to be ourselves. That is one thing that was constantly drilled into us from the day we entered kindergarten, to the day we applied to college, to the day we were appearing for our first job interview. However, the hidden connotations of ‘Just be yourselves’ were never explicitly explained. The fuller version of the sentence goes something like this-“just be yourselves that is if you’re a straight A-student with 10.0 GPA, excellent attendance record who takes active part in extracurricular activities, holds at least 5 leadership positions; and even that is the bare basic”.  On top of if it all, you got to have hobbies as well. Or at least must have hopped to an internship to get a precocious-sounding title to put on your resume. The list has neither a beginning nor an end. This somewhat-insane striving for excellence started way back in Kindergarten when you didn’t even know how to spell your name and has continued ever since. Since time immemorial, achievements have been measured, with the number of trophies you have to decorate on your mantelpiece instead of gauging one in terms of actual calibre possessed by them.

You are told each year that-“it isn’t about winning it is about making an effort”. And the same statement is contradicted at the end of the year by luxuriously holding an award-giving ceremonies as extravagant as the Grammy’s with the parents and photographers swarming around the stage like a horde of paparazzi, while their respective wards and the Chief guest painstakingly hold onto the trophy and certificate, gluing a smile to their faces, until the other side gets the perfect shot. It is weird how each year the same thing happens over and over again-first comes the sports day then the annual day. Add a few a debates and extempore in between- and there you have a summary of the whole academic year. To be true, it holds the same demeanour as a mellowed out version of the Hunger Games- ‘there can only be one victor’.

The school is not the only place where the ‘competitive spirit’ is encouraged and celebrated. It carries on to college as well. And then for job selection where the prospective candidates are compared on the basis of the number of trophies you were able to hoard throughout the years rather than on inherent worth and talent of a student. Hence, the true lesson imparted at the end of the day is more on the lines of ‘Survival of the fittest’ rather than the typical- ‘It’s the trying that counts’- lesson that is ideally recited to us.

Certificates and trophies will forever be the judge of your character, skills and aptitude. Come to think about it, it doesn’t even end there. It carries further onto your workplace –be it employee of the year, the funniest guy in the workplace or many more. As the level goes on increasing, they keep coming with newer more innovative names and titles to quantify people’s talents, while at the same time, assuring you that it’s okay not to be the best at everything.

All your life worth of achievements and hobbies your qualities, passions, hopes, aspirations crammed onto one paper along with a latest passport-sized photo and voilĂ - you have a resume. A piece of document, maximum 2 pages long, on basis of which almost 20 years of your life will be judged. Tad bit unfair?  Nope. Absolutely brilliant? Yeah, that’s more like it. (Pun intended)

It might be this reason that compels the students to exaggerate on their job interviews in epic proportions. One can cite many examples of resume- padding, or as one might call it- ‘stretching the truth’ (harmless enough). For instance- sitting at your father’s shop becomes ‘Trained at Business Relations’, working part-time at a coffee shop becomes –‘excels at client management’, working on a project you were forced to do for college (and was compiled and submitted in the nick of time) becomes a whole set of embellished skill set points-‘accepts responsibility, is sensitive, is supportive, works well in a team etc.’, being a control-freak becomes all things positive like –‘good at delegating responsibilities, excellent leadership skills’ and the list goes on till infinity (and beyond). The list of adjectives that make their way onto a resume is unquestionably long. I admit that I am still far from getting a hang of this.

Most employers spend majority of the time scrutinizing the experience section of the resume, and unfortunately, the homespun resume rarely tells the whole story. Most resume do-it-yourselfers fear their accomplishments won't fare well against the competition and they decide to embellish facts in an effort to attract an employer's attention.

Although fabricating the information isn't quite necessary. Most likely the experience you have garnered throughout your work history is impressive enough. The challenge, however, is expressing your accomplishments in a way that entices the hiring organization to benevolently send you the hiring letter.

The trick is to connect the dots right and to not let the truth stretch out a bit too far. It’s quite a fine line though.

Article by Rishibha Tuteja
Last minute Blogger, fangirl by profession. A Bibliophile by heart, Tech–Enthusiast by choice.
She breathes dreams like air and can be reached at
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