"Your Resume is a Joke" - Filipina to Me

After almost two decades working for the creative industry, there are certain quirks that have become a part of me.

Humor, for one, is a welcome thing in advertising agencies. It's both a defensive mechanism and a necessary first aid kit. When all hope is lost, when you realize you are surrounded by idiots who don't realize that they are idiots, when unreasonable demands are insisted, you have three options, kill someone, kill yourself or find the funny.

Artistry and self expression is another. This is one industry where individuality is encouraged. After all, it is supposedly a creative industry. It's all about getting all the advantages you can. When all else are equal, what makes you unique?

It worked for me until I moved here.

When I applied for a job and was asked to send in a resume, I sent a creative one. I figured that with the low employment rate, I needed to get noticed and rise above the clutter. I got called for an interview the same day I submitted my resume.

The owner of the company is an American and the first thing he said to me was that he found my resume very creative. It's what prompted him to call me immediately.

When he introduced me to some clients and others I will soon be working with, he never failed to mention that I am different from the person I will be replacing in that I have a creative backgound and I will be able to pitch in some creative ideas and provide advise.


I thank the advertising gods that my 17 years with them were not a total waste.

Then I met the person I was replacing. The order of the day was clear. She needed to teach me everything she knows in one day. We were in a rush and I had to use my slightly used brain in its full potential just to remotely get an idea on what the work is all about.

After almost 5 hours of non-stop work, we finally had a chance to slow down. She took the opportunity to tell me this.

"I need to tell you something. Next time, don't submit a resume like that. Your resume is a joke. If it was my decision, I wouldn't even call you in for an interview."

And I'm the matandang dalaga.

I wanted so much to ask her to look around and know what kind of business she's working for. It's a creative one. Their survival is based on two things, how beautiful the stuff they sell and the quality of the end product.

I am new in this country and her reaction made me wonder whether I really got it wrong. After all, this is a country of strict workplace rules and politeness. Maybe I was too "out there." Maybe, my creative resume didn't have a place in this office. That changed after about a month into the job. The owner of the company values my creative input and asks my opinion when it comes to their products. He has, in fact, told the clients that I can provide more valuable creative advise than he does.

Our office is a manufacturing plant. People who "make the product" get down and dirty. Hence, tshirt and jeans is an acceptable ensemble. However, I don't operate machines and since I have lost some weight and became more comfortable in my skin, I've built up a wardrobe that is more varied in terms of look. I wear dresses and skirts and skinny jeans and shirts that "create an illusion I have some shape".

I got slammed for it by my Filipina office mates. They said that my jeans and plaid shirt ensemble was better while my boss and his wife praised my fashion choices.

I also constantly got discouraged from suggesting or coming up with news ways to get things done becuase "they already have a system that they are used to". On the other hand, my boss constantly encouraged me to create my own mark, tell him if I think of a new way to get things done or have anything in mind that I feel will help the company.

Then, the person I replaced gave my boss a call because her new employer, apparently, screwed her. She ended up getting less than what she was getting. She wanted her job back. She was confident she was getting based on how things turned out. She was sorry I was going to be kicked out but she simply needed the job because she had a daughter who is about to go to college.

"No," my boss said. "She was great and all but I finally found someone who is more than just a clerk. I'll stick with her, thank you very much."

Lesson

Blending in is a good thing. Getting along with the people who have been in the company longer is a good thing. Adjusting to the current company culture is even better but never dim you light for someone else. If you've got it, show it as long as you're not being arrogant.

I know that their advises mean well. They are kind people but I should there is a reason they are still clerks in their mid 40s. I know it sounds harsh and probably arrogant but that is the truth. They are American Citizens who have all been in the US for more than 2 decades. Most of all, they are in a company that, as it appears to me, nurtures growth or employees.

I don't know if has something to do with Filipino culture and our famed inferior mentality. I don't know if we are naturally scared of taking risks or thinking. I don't know if we have a thing about breaking the boundaries or threading a new path that made these Filipinas in this workplace have such an "old fashion" way of thinking. Right now, it doesn't matter.

All I know is that one of the benefits of being in my 30s and decades of corporate experience is that I know who I am and what I can do and offer. I won't let others make me believe otherwise.

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