People generally present only the best side of themselves when they’re applying for a job. But being truthful is important to me. I have a weird mix of strengths and weaknesses which make me unsuitable as a standard kind of hard-working employee.
So I started wondering… what would it look like if I wrote a truthful CV (resume), including both good and bad? Would anyone hire me?
Let’s find out…
(Also, I would LOVE to read your own unconventional but truthful CV! Write a post similar to mine on your blog and link to it in my comments section below)
At school, I preferred having fun with my friends to hard work. I was talented academically, I just found a lot of it boring. I got reasonably good grades, but I was always haunted by the regret that I could have done better if only I’d managed to be more disciplined.
At university, technically I was supposed to fail my Bachelor’s degree. You see, after the first few weeks of term, I pretty much stopped putting effort into my final year project, which was a huge chunk of my final grade. Mainly I was overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the task ahead of me, so I kept putting it off. But also, a new girlfriend and smoking weed somehow seemed more important.
I was the first person in the 20+ year history of my course to fail their final year project. The faculty called me into a special meeting to decide what they were going to do with me. They noted that in some subjects, I had extremely high grades… it was no coincidence that these were the subjects I found interesting. If it wasn’t interesting to me, I put the bare minimum of effort into it.
The faculty asked me what I felt they should do. I said that I knew that if I’d put the effort into my final year, I could have achieved a strong overall grade. But I also recognised that because I hadn’t put in the effort, it wouldn’t be fair to the other students if they just gave me a grade which I hadn’t earned.
In the end, rather than failing me, they gave me just a slightly worse grade than I could have hoped for if I’d actually been trying my hardest. I was incredibly lucky.
This has haunted me for all of my adult life though. I often have uncomfortable dreams where I’m failing my degree but can’t seem to get my act together for various reasons.
According to the “Big 5” personality test, I’m extremely high in Openness (98th or 99th percentile, I think). This means I love exploring new ideas and being creative. It also means I get quickly bored by convention and routine. Sometimes I take excessive risks in order to make life more exciting for myself.
I also have below average Industriousness. This means I’m not particularly diligent with projects. I find it difficult to start new pieces of work and also difficult to finish them. I often need someone to whip me into action.
However, when I get interesting work, something shiny and new with plenty of scope for learning new skills, then I suddenly become super dedicated and almost obsessed with the project. I can achieve great things in a short space of time. I do well when given a lot of freedom to work autonomously.
So, I’m not a consistent worker. I’m someone who has flashes of brilliance and intense bursts of productive work, but who also can be very unproductive and unmotivated at times. I can be spontaneously and impulsively excellent.
I can get overwhelmed easily, so I need to minimise lots of things in my life… I cut out tasks, possessions and sometimes even people if I’m feeling that things are getting too cluttered.
Career Highlights… and Lowlights
I often used to be quite idealistic and perhaps naive. I used to send lengthy emails to the company CEO telling him how I felt the company could be run better. LOL. On my last day at work, the CEO asked to have a chat with me. He was very candid, he told me that he often thought about telling me “Why don’t you just fuck off?” LOL x2.
One employer had to implement a new Change Control system because I kept getting bored and deciding I would make risky and wide-sweeping changes to production systems overnight.
At one very conservative employer who could spot that I was potentially trouble, I was warned, “Don’t fuck it up.” I proceeded to shave all my hair off, for which I (rather unfairly) received a written warning. I then decided nights drinking Jim Beam was way more fun than work, so I had a terrible attendance record.
At that same employer, I once accidentally flushed a set of company car keys down the toilet. Long story! The HR manager was unimpressed and had to get the locks on the car drilled out.
I once produced a “video CV” as a way of making myself stand out to employers. As a result of that, I was offered a job which paid more than any other position in my entire life, by a huge margin. However, it would have involved living away from home Monday to Friday. That was too big a sacrifice for me – my family was more important – so I turned it down. Money isn’t everything.
I once slept with my boss’ mum. I didn’t know who she was at the time. Many years later, my (now ex-) boss found out. Strangely, he’s never spoken to me since.
In one job, the company had spent millions implementing new IT systems running the core of the company’s business. But they didn’t have a good way of quantifying the system’s performance. They used to just rely on users phoning the IT helpdesk and saying “the system’s running slowly” and then asking the techies to investigate various components looking for issues. It was long-winded and unsatisfying for all concerned.
One day, I was idly thinking about how I might solve the above problem. I got hold of the free version of some software which I thought I could probably cobble together into a kind of rudimentary performance monitoring solution. After some experimentation, I got it working. I stuck the display (a really clear real-time performance graph) up on a large plasma TV, making it visible to most of our open office. It allowed everyone to see exactly how well the system was performing, without needing to rely on vague complaints from non-technical users.
The Head of I.T. chuckled and commented, “That is a thing of beauty.”
That piece of work was one of the decisive factors in me getting the equivalent of a 50% pay rise staggered over a year.
At the same place, I was chairman of the Staff Consultative Committee. I wasn’t content with toeing the company line. I wanted to hold senior management accountable and also let them know what people on the front lines really thought.
It got me a reputation as a trouble-maker. But it also produced one of my career highlights… I championed a programme to change the company dress code, something which many managers before me had dismissed as an intractable problem.
I presented my committee’s changes to the executive board. I balanced company needs versus employee needs. It did more for my career at that company than anything I did in my “real” job.
Yes, I am a troublemaker, but usually with the best of intentions. One manager described me as “a nice problem to have.”
I left the corporate world to co-found a small IT startup company as Technical Director. I thoroughly enjoyed that work. I designed, implemented and supported a fully-functioning IT solution which we then sold on to our external customers.
Eventually the work got boring and the business’ growth stagnated despite the high quality of the technical solution I’d implemented.
I left the startup I’d helped to build under acrimonious circumstances, but eventually we reached a settlement we were both happy with.
I’d been fired from my job prior to that one. Apparently the executives at that company had far less tolerance for opinionated mavericks like me. Again, after a bit of a legal battle, we reached a nice financial settlement.
I’ve self-published a handful of books on various subjects on Amazon since then. I kinda half-fancy myself as a writer, though I’m not particularly good.
And now, well, I’m in a minimum wage job delivering takeaway food… but at least it’s not stressful.
What will the future hold? Who knows!
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