Explain the oddities on your resumé or we’ll make something up

You have a four year gap in your timeline. Please explain it or we might think you were in prison instead of simply taking time out for family. Your job is in Houston but you are living in Boston. Don’t think we won’t notice. No one mentioning this or its reason screams a lot louder MYSTERY than any actual explanation.

We humans are story telling animals. We want to know your story. If you don’t tell a part of it, we’ll make something up. We can’t help ourselves, though of course we know it is fantasy and we won’t share it. You may think we don’t read your file closely enough to notice your quirks, but we do. Especially if you get high up on our list, we’ll comb that professional narrative very carefully. Once you explain something, it ceases to interest us and we get back to the really challenging business of choosing as carefully as possible a few people to interview who shine and are a good fit.

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Great colleagues that had clear applications

Of course there are things you do not have to tell and things it is illegal for us to ask. Whether you have a partner who needs a job falls in this category. In fact it is probably the biggest thing that falls here. I am of two minds as to what to do about this. You don’t have to tell us and these days most of you do not. Why even bother telling us you do not have a partner needing a job in the same field if we are not allowed to ask this?

It is not something I ever hid, but I guess after a certain point hiding it would have been impossible. What happens if we know? In the best scenario it gives us more time to think about how we can get you both here. Would we write you off and move on to the next single person? At the institutions I have been at, this is unlikely since generally everyone has something complicated about their situation. We are humans after all.

So, share what you want. Hide what you choose. We will pour worry into oddities and gaps and that might not be in your best interest.

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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