Thursday, 10 December 2009

Curriculum vitae

One of the first questions we’re asked when we meet someone is ‘What do you do?’ The answer to that question potentially sets the course for defining each other. What does the world of work mean? Certainly, it means income. It can mean power and status. It means belonging and it has a lot to do with identity. For many, what we do is who we are. That’s understandable. We spend so much time at work whether our world is white or blue collar. We take jobs to pay the bills or as a stepping-stone to where our passions really lie. Sometimes we get stuck there. Sometimes we are unceremoniously trundled out of our hard-earned position on the ladder of success (whatever the hell that means) and bumped to the ground by redundancy, illness, accident or just plain bad luck. Not having a job is devastating for most and being unable to pay the bills is just one part of that. Our social networks are impacted, our capacity to contribute and our sense of place.

I was talking with someone recently who is struggling to find regular employment. This person is talented, experienced and willing. The job market and potential employers don’t always respond in ways that are encouraging and that’s if they even bother to respond. How who we keep our spirits up when the world of work and all that it brings to us isn’t available? I don't know that entire answer to this question. I do know that it is worth encouraging people to keep going, to redefine themselves, to look at other ways and to keep up hope.

For many years, I worked as a recruiter. Good recruiters read between the lines of a CV. It’s not only about what you’ve done but also about what you haven’t done. As a recruiter, I was interested in the ‘roundedness’ of people, in the real meaning of curriculum vitae as per the Latin meaning the course of one's life. It isn’t just about work. In between what we do and how we handle life in general, we find who we really are.