Day 2

It didn’t matter that the Jimi Hendrix song released on May 12, 1967 was about an entirely different sort of experience.  It was an anthem of a generation that wasn’t preoccupied, not then, with the mundane realities of bosses, jobs, promotions and this very establishment concept of ‘experience’.  It still kept popping up in my aural and visual fields when I first got serious about a post-MBA corporate career in the year 1998.  As though hearing the song everywhere wasn’t enough William Sutcliffe even wrote a book called “Are You Experienced?” in 1998.  I started seeing subway and bus faces hidden behind the covers of this book.

I imagined baby-boomer bosses and hiring managers, now all grown up, sitting in plush chairs behind large desks and asking me in that classic Hendrix way, “Are you experienced?”

My resume could fit on one page in 1998 and because I wasn’t experienced enough the experts suggested I display my MBA education at the very top.  All I heard back then was “experience, experience, you need experience, you don’t have enough experience.”  When I discussed the futility of a day’s efforts with loved ones I used to complain about the dilemma of finding a way to get experienced without being experienced in the first place.

Like all desperate phases that phase passed and I was able to jump from one experience to the next over the next 12 years.  The resume went from a page to three pages, each experience leading to a job that was similar to the one where the previous experience was earned. 

I am older, wiser and more experienced now.   They can’t deny I am experienced.  Except as I stand here, one step poised at the threshold of a very crowded job marketplace, I am learning that “experience” is a perishable commodity with a set shelf life.  By the time you earn enough experience it’s already too late.

Almost like bananas.  You buy them at the supermarket when they still look green.  You leave them in your fruit bowl and watch them as they turn a lighter shade of green and a little yellow the next day and then you better eat them right away if you have an aversion to the overripe, very yellow and soft-on-the-inside kind, the kind that’s only good enough to be mashed up for banana bread.  Yes indeed, an experienced person is exactly like an overripe banana that no one wants…unless they love banana bread.

My friends in the recruitment industry are telling me that I am too old to sell myself based on education alone and selling myself on 22 years of steadily growing experience ages me and makes me look too old and too overqualified.  I am now asked to make some changes to the resume where I look as though I only have a few strong years of relevant experience.

Well, no problem.  I’ll get working on that right away.  I am still too young to become banana bread.  As I start trimming, restructuring, finding a young and smart looking font and selecting powerful keywords, keeping in mind that the keyword emphasis has shifted from action verbs to hard-hitting nouns during my years of gainful employment, I can’t help but wonder about the absurdity of it all.

There was an article in The New York Times today about a town in Alabama where true to financial predictions the pension fund for town employees ran dry by 2009.  Retirees here stopped getting pension checks.  Some went back to work in their late sixties and others became dependent on the charity of others.  They ran a race all their lives only to hit a dead end, a concrete wall at the end of their race with absolutely no way out.

This is life in all its absurd glory and I am willing to embrace it with all the joie de vivre I possess at this moment. 

Day 2 brought this realization home.  The draft of the new resume is open in another window on this computer.  That window is minimized for the moment, the task is a dreary one and there are too many distractions at home.   I might have to go to the sunny periodicals room of MOPL again to get this done.

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