Going through my father’s papers, I found many of his resumes, going back decades. The most recent ones written in the past 25 years were resumes I helped him put together. Before that, my mother did them for him. He was rather useless in that area. 😉
At first I stuffed them in a file folder, thinking they were probably worth going through later with the idea that I’d probably throw away the oldest ones. A few weeks later I opened the folder to realize I was holding my father’s professional life and history in my hands.
A resume is a factual representation of a person’s professional life and career. It is also an exaggerated and boastful representation of skills they may, or may not, have had, as well as some fidgeting of dates and titles to make themselves look better than they really were. My father’s resumes are both.
A resume is customizable. My father, for example, worked in the shipyards for many years, but he also worked other odd jobs when the shipyard layoffs hit. He worked in house construction, real estate, and janitorial services. He poked around at a wide variety of things, trying to make ends meet. He had different resumes for the different industries he worked in, so each one was different. He even had a very different resume I helped him put together years ago to convince a local college to accept him into their program, highlighting professional skills he really didn’t have.
A resume tells the story of a person’s working life, but it also helps to define them in other ways. I’m still learning about who my father was, even though I knew him in many ways better than most people. His resumes offer new insights. I just wish I’d found them before he died so I could get my new questions about his life answered.
Look through your family papers to see if you can find any resumes of your family members. If you don’t have one, find one, or if they are living, ask them for copies to add to your files. Someday, these resumes may be treasures, revealing more about an ancestor than just names and dates.
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