Friday, November 05, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

My dear friend Jerome used to say, "If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got, so change it up." Sometimes when I bump up against a wall, I'll hear his voice in my memory, gently reminding me that it's time to stop being Super Deb and ask for help. This week, I asked for help with my resume/CV.

I started by reaching out to the Archives & Archivists (A&A) list serv sponsored by the Society of American Archivists (of which I'm a member). Individuals do not have to be members or even archivists to post to the list. I've read inquiries posted by professionals in other fields seeking advice and the useful and speedy responses by list subscribers.

After thanking list members for their help in the past, I asked if the A&Aers would be willing to send me their resumes and if anyone would be willing to give mine a review. Essentially, I was looking for some typical examples of archivists' resumes and some constructive criticism. I was impressed and gratified by the number of people willing to help. Further, I was moved by the people who took the time to pick through my CV and provide thoughtful and practical suggestions (nearly all of which I've been applying to the document I'm reworking).

It was interesting to see how many people had worked at their university libraries and later had been hired at those institutions. At one point, I felt a bit intimidated by some of the CVs of people who have been archivists for many years and were quite accomplished. However, I was reminded that my internships and other recent work experiences are valuable and worth a look, too.

Probably the biggest challenge is balancing my previous careers with this new one. For years, I straddled a few different, albeit related, fields: technical writing and editing, feature writing and editing, and corporate communications. There were logical career moves that could be linked easily within a chronological resume. Now that I've changed careers to something quite different, the challenge is to write an appealing resume/CV that will show how key experience and skills from the previous fit comfortably within the current work.

While not all of the A&A topics are as collegial and helpful as my "help request" has been, I remain a big fan of the list's members. Now, it's up to me to give help where and when I can to pay forward the kindness that was extended to me.


Mary Girdle said...

I love those little things that people say to you which end up staying with you for life. They give us strength just when we need it.

Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Mary.