Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I had a job interview this morning at the small office of a restaurant chain in town. It was a cold, rainy morning, and riding my bike for more than 30 minutes to get there was already quite discouraging.

But the interview went well. There were only two people there in the office: a middle-aged guy and a young female assistant, and they were both really nice. The assistant even gave me a cup of nice, hot green tea. (Maybe I looked so frozen and miserable from the bike ride.) The guy who interviewed me sounded very empathetic throughout the interview. He must be quite experienced -- he understood the content of my resume correctly at first glance. (You know how some interviewers are; they repeatedly ask you things that are clearly mentioned on your resume which they just went through.) Though they were not the kitchen staff, I had a good impression of the restaurant. Yes, I really want to get this job. I'm sick of writing resumes!! :O

Are you wondering why I "write" resumes instead of typing them up on my PC and making as many printouts as I want? Well, here in this small city, that's something you do only when you are applying for a full-time position at a big, "innovative" company, and/or when you are applying for IT jobs. But the majority of the time -- almost 100% if applying for a blue-collar job -- people in the personnel department expect to receive resumes handwritten on store-bought blank resume forms. (And regarding blue-collar jobs, I think the situation is almost the same in other prefectures, too.) Printed-out resumes do not give a good impression in this case, because it can make you seem aloof, and look like an overqualified person OR someone who is lacking in sincerity and politeness.

In my past observations, when applying for a blue-collar job, printed-out resume is likely to induce biases (or "assumptions," to be more neutral) like: "Such a (snobby white-collar) person won't be able to get along well with others at a blue-collar job", "(S)he won't be able to stand dirty and physically demanding work like this", "(S)he must be still looking for a white-collar job, too, and will get one soon and quit this place right away" and so on. Of course, ideally, the employers shouldn't make decisions based on such assumptions, but well, I have no control over that. And I N-E-E-D a job ASAP.

As for the sincerity and politeness issue, you might feel this is strange because in many countries typed-up documents are considered "official," while handwritten ones are "unofficial" or "casual" or possibly even "low-level," I believe. Well, it's mostly the same here in Japan even at blue-collar jobs, too, but I must say that a resume is an exception.

To explain that, maybe first I should mention the difference in people's expectation about handwriting, and how much they relate it to a personality issue here. In where I live now, it is not so taken for granted that handwriting is always hardly legible. Even in this Internet era, the bottom line still seems to be, "You should try to write neatly, or at least make an effort to write carefully and legibly. Completely abandoning the effort tells us something about your personality." And numerous how-to books and websites on "successful resume" advise, "You don't have to write like a penmanship teacher, but show your sincerity by showing your effort to write carefully and legibly. Don't give a sloppy or irresponsible impression by scribbling your resume."

Now, believe me, it's a real hard work to handwrite a resume and use correct Chinese characters all the way through, especially when you are over forty years old and have a long career background!! And you are not supposed to use white-out or correction tape, because it is an "official" document. For me it's nothing but torture! It is as if we are required to show our sincerity and politeness to the employers by going through the agony of completing a handwritten resume. So do you know how the employers at blue-collar jobs would react if you give them a printout which could have been possibly typed-up by someone else? They might think you are impolite, or there is something you want to hide (like you don't have enough concentration and eye-hand coordination to handwrite a resume, or you don't know Chinese characters at all or something). It could be worse than giving them a scribbled resume.

I'm not totally happy with the way it is here about resumes. And I know that handwriting does not really reflect one's personality, because I have met total bitches who wrote a BEAUTIFUL hand. But for now I need a job more than I need to change the local business custom. So if I don't get the job at the above mentioned restaurant, I will "write" a resume again, tearing one up every time I make a mistake. AHHHh!! ... To be honest, the mere sight of a blank resume form is making me sick now...

But I have noticed a positive change in Japanese official resume forms. About 20 years ago, they used to have a section to write the names of your family members. No one said it aloud but we knew that some employers used the information to avoid the children of single parent families. I'm happy that that section is gone now. The next step would be eliminating the requirement of a photo on a resume, maybe? ;)
posted by obachan, 1/22/2008 11:43:00 PM


A photo? Create your own resume? Ouch.

Around here it's just fill out the job application and make sure to have clean references in all but truly white-collar jobs.

Sorry this is all turning out to be so tough.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 1/31/2008 2:08 AM  
Yep, it is. But I'll survive. ;)

BTW, thanks for letting me realize that I had "color" instead of "collar" all over this post. Hahaha...
commented by Blogger obachan, 1/31/2008 2:15 PM  
Hunting for a job is a real hassle, especially if you are beyond 60. Check out my blog at http://peoplepowergranny.blogspot.com and vote in my poll, if you want.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 2/02/2008 12:53 PM  
You know, I never even noticed that?
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 2/06/2008 3:34 AM  

Add a comment