Quick question: How many of you are in the process of opening up your dictionary to find out what the heck that 24 letter word, “Disestablishmentarianism” means? I’m not going to be telling you in this blog so you might want to look it up just to satisfy your curiosity.
You’d be surprised how many times I come across it on resumes however. I’d say at least twice a week someone comes in with it right there for all to see. Okay so not that specific word; and it is a real word by the way, but a word that the owner of the resume doesn’t really know the meaning of. Get the point of this blog today then?
It’s sad but true that there are a number of people handing out their resumes, submitting them online, and faxing them to employers with phrases and/or words on them that they themselves don’t understand. So how did they get there in the first place? A full one hundred percent of the time, someone else with really good intentions chose the words or the phrase and plunked it down.
So why then wouldn’t a person question the writer as to the meaning of a word, or ask that a line be rephrased in such a way that they themselves could understand? The answer of course is usually that the person receiving the help is grateful, doesn’t want to expose their ignorance, doesn’t wish to appear to be insulting the writer, or at the very least, is too polite to interrupt them. What a shame.
Here’s the problem of course. Let’s say all that impressive vocabulary and bombastic manipulation of the written word succeeds and lands the person an interview. Things are moving along quite nicely and then the interviewer references the phrase the person doesn’t quite grasp the meaning of. “Cognizant of the need to promote pluralism”; could you expand on that for us?” And then like a ton of bricks you’re crushed and have only a matter of seconds to scramble and answer. Most of the time, and no kidding, something comes out like, “Ah, well, actually somebody else put that there.”
The defence of absolving yourself of all responsibility will never be acceptable – no not ever. This resume may have been prepared with help from someone else, but in the end, if your name is on the top of the page, it is now your personal marketing tool, and you’d better know what’s on the entire thing and OWN it. Any professional who is preparing or helping craft a resume should at some point tell a client that they should review it and point out anything they don’t understand.
It’s a tricky line sometimes to produce a resume that’s professional, and speaks simultaneously in both the language of the client and employers. The lower a person’s education level and comprehension, the more challenging this becomes. Of course sharing the meaning of a phrase or a word becomes a teachable moment, and it may well be that in addition to producing a resume, the client gets a bit of a spelling and grammar lesson.
The reason I chose disestablishmentarianism is that I had a very cool high school history teacher who wrote this on the board one day. It took the entire center blackboard and as I had a budding interest in language, I sat up straighter and paid attention. This was new to me, and I liked it. All these years later, that word, and the freshness of seeing it for the first time and wanting to know what it meant has stuck with me. What has that done? I’ve got a life-long appreciation for language development.
But back to that resume. If you are seeking help from anyone, be they a professional or just a kindly family member, please make sure you understand every single word on your resume. A resume with words and phrases that you don’t understand might as well be in another language altogether.
You have a choice to either have a word substituted completely, or ask the meaning of the word and then commit this to your memory. Whichever you choose, it should be up to you.