So when the major headline of the day is that the Boston Globe is having difficulty deciding when Romney stopped working at Bain, this is a sign that things are pretty bad. “Gee, let’s go through Bain’s SEC filings from 1999 through 2002 one more time, just for kicks!” is not something you say in the midst of a whirlwind of activity. The life of the guy assigned to sit outside Romney’s house watching paint dry is a madcap whirlwind of activity, by comparison.
Whether what the Boston Globe unearthed is actually news, a retread of vague suspicions from anonymous sources or merely a reminder of the fact that, honestly, no one has any real idea of what SEC filings mean, even the people who file them, we’re in for a good six hours of rabid foaming-at-the-mouth controversy about When Jobs Start and When They End and Can We Get This Disgruntled Steelworker on the Air or Is He Outside the Three-Year Window?
But this raises a larger question.
Do résumés matter?
Paper ones certainly don’t. People do not like being handed sheets of paper. It alarms them. It makes them think that they have been transported back to the mid-’80s and that if they are not careful, they will prevent their parents from meeting.
But what about the résumé as a form?
Increasingly, job-seekers replace the standard sheet of painfully small text about Past Experience and Objectives with a giant Web site that implies vaguely being destined for greatness, with a background that looks like the ocean. Supplement this with social media profiles and Google results, and do you really need Employment History and Education in a poorly selected font, with one typo in a critical place that changes “not” to “now”?
(Come to think of it, maybe this is what happened to Romney, right before the words “Employed at Bain.”)
Look, if you are giving your employer information about yourself that is not somewhere on the Internet, it is generally false. Generally. I have no idea why a Google search does not reveal the numerous times I rescued Ryan Gosling from wandering into traffic and the six to eight Tonys that form the cornerstone of my résumé.
You know that a form is outdated when there is a template for it in Microsoft Word. When was the last time you sent anyone a Contemporary Memo or a Professional Fax? (The Elegant Résumé template urges me to say that I was the national sales manager for something called Arbor Shoe and that I doubled the sales from $50 million to $100 million, which seems improbable.)
To judge by my résumé, I have led most of my life in the tiniest font possible, in the constant company of the word “single-handedly.”
These days, the résumé has gone the way of the verse epic, the dodo and the heroic couplet. It’s a form no one uses. Objectives? Education? Experience? Who has any of these?
The only time you hear about résumés is when people falsify them. Remember that Yahoo! CEO?
The presidency requires no résumé, of course. Certainly not on paper. You do have to explain your objectives and past experience, but not in too much detail. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion. Disgruntled steelworkers will emerge from the woodwork to shake their gory locks at you. Besides, if there is one lesson from most résumés, it is that you have no idea when or whether you did any of these things. Memory is a fickle thing. What’s a year? What’s three years? Marcel Proust lost a little time, and he got a massive seven-volume opus out of it. But misplace a small chunk of time, or let the Boston Globe suspect you did, and suddenly FactCheck.org is calling you a criminal.
Let’s call the whole thing off. Loose papers baffle. The past is both murky and too easy to fact-check. The résumé is at an end.
Then again, if you could only judge by Facebook, you’d never hire anyone at all.