Friday, July 29, 2011

Thrown Away

I had my first 40 hour a week job when I was 18 years old. I was a sophomore at Georgia Tech and I was Features Editor for the newspaper. I was responsible for about 10 employees, determined their pay and everything. I recently had some beers with my old assistant editor after losing touch for 20 years and he pointed this out to me. Well, my career pretty much went downhill from there. I have a terrible resumé. No matter how I rewrite it there's never a smooth transition from one job to another one exactly like it with increasing responsibility. Back in the '90s I went to the career counselor at Georgia Tech for some advice on what to do about it and he told me to group my experience by topics like Management Experience, Technical Experience, Marketing Experience. But he warned me that people would still hate it. Anything besides chronology is foreign and weird and why should they bother when they can just go to the next one in line that looks the way they like it? I actually got my last job without ever showing them any kind of resumé. The head guys went to Georgia Tech and just assumed that any graduate of that fine institute could manage the job they needed done. After a few months I realized my boss thought I was an Industrial Engineering major.

Anyway, the other day I got an invitation to sign up for this new thing, a visual resumé. Here's the example, Ashton Kutcher. It's a start up and it's not ready yet, but I thought what the hell. I can do that myself, just to see what it's like.

I thought I'd throw something in Excel just to get my information organized. After I figured out how to get it to generate dates going back in time in quarterly increments I thought I might have to add that to the top as relevant engineering experience. Man, Excel is a bitch with dates. When I exported it to Google Docs it totally hosed them up, too. So there's a tip. Mac Excel dates are not compatible with Google Docs. I haven't looked at the details, but just be warned.

I messed with the fonts and column size until I got it one page wide and it was seven pages long. Oh good lord. As my friend Steve Leacock says, Excel is not a design tool. But at this point I was so disheartened by the truth in the image I didn't really feel like there was any point making it look good. The data on it would still convey the same cruel message. I am a has-been wanna-be. It reminded me of this scene from Better Off Dead. This movie came out when I was working for the newspaper and the studio sent me a package of black and white glossy stills. I ran a picture of Jon Cusack through the hot wax machine and stuck it on my Calculus binder. Seems we have come full circle, Lane Meyer.

Yes, that is Steven Williams, Mr. X from the X-Files.

I did export the Excel file and shove it into Illustrator to mess with it enough to get a GIF I could throw up here. I'm amused by scrolling.

In my daily comics email today I got this Peanuts that also reminds me of my situation, only this one is sort of sweet. It reminds me to thank those of you who read this blog and commiserate with me in my anxiety about the state of the world.

Thank you, readers. I'll try to think of something interesting to do next so I can write about it for you.


  1. Dear Jane Shlabotnik,

    I'm sorry to hear that you're in a slump. The thing to remember about being in a slump is that because you're down so low, you can't see around you very well. Everything looks like it's above you and like you are down in a hole. But since you are on an odyssey through life, the holes and slumps are just like low points in the road. Eventually, you drive out of them and get back to some nice views.

    I've known has-beens and wannabes. Quite a few of them. Most really never were Beens or Dones. They were mostly posers. I'm about 97% certain you were never a poser.

    Just so you know, there are only two reasons I don't shut down my blog, and one of them is because by having my blog, I have access to yours more easily.


    Huge Fan of Jane Shlabotnik

  2. Thanks, Huge Fan!

    Actually I used the lack of precision in that chart to run that job type experience a lot closer together than it actually was. After the first few slumps in the early nineties I realized that something always comes up. As long as I stay prepared to take advantage of any opportunity as soon as it presents itself then I can just relax and occupy myself with other things. I keep my computers upgraded, my car repaired, my phone charged, and a business checking account with an FEIN number.

    My grandfather taught me that the most important thing to do when you go fishing is to keep your hook in the water. I used to take him literally and leave my empty hook in the pond while I grappled another worm out of the can. I might be doing the same thing now. Tradition is a good reason for lots of dumb stuff, right?

    Thanks again,

    P.S. I like your blog. Flying rods! I can't believe what people will believe!

  3. I really love this visualization of your resume. Its awesome. Also, you have done of ton of awesome things! I am very impressed.

    Having a pretty resume isn't everything. Something will turn up for you, I am sure of it.

  4. Actually having a way of displaying various life experience like that should be close to the standard for how to show your life achievements so it's easier to show things that don't fit on a resume well.