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09 November 2009 @ 08:38 am
Jobquest: Resumes and "trivial" jobs  
You know, I've been leaving my current position at the comic-and-game shop off of my resume, on the assumption that it's somehow "too trivial" and "doesn't look good" for a prospective science professional.

On the other claw, it adds two vitally important things to my resume:

  • Evidence that I am, in fact, currently employed; and
  • A position that I've held for more than a year -- the only one I've held for more than a few months, since getting my degree in 2003.*

I think I have far too much ego invested in the wrong places. I've been more concerned with presenting myself as a ⟨jonlovitz⟩Scientist⟨/jonlovitz⟩ than as a worker--and I have no idea if that's for the "benefit" of prospective employers, or to sustain my own precarious illusions.

So what looks better? A resume that says "I work in a comic book shop", or one that says "I haven't worked at all since 2007"?

Or have I already answered my own question?

*Aside from my time at AppleOne, which I treat as a single job instead of listing each contract/position individually.
Tombfyretombfyre on November 9th, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
I'd say you've got the right idea. Its better to list what you're doing than leave a huge gap in your work history. You'll either have to explain it, or they'll just pull your employment records and find out for themselves anyways. Besides, look at it from the perspective of transferable skills. No doubt there's *something* you've been doing at the comic shop for that long that would apply to future work. Even if its just proving that you can hold down a job that long. :)
silmaril on November 9th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
That would be column A.

If you can put something fancy like "inventory management" or whatever, better, but put some side things that you did at that time related to science and also show that you've held a job.

But I've never applied to academia from outside academia, so take all my "experience" here with many grains of salt.
Terminotaur: Science 1terminotaur on November 9th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
Absolutely put it on there I say. At the very least it shows you handling money (a trust exercise), dealing with money, and with the public. Also shows you doing something. In most jobs I've had it seems to be showing you want to work.

I held down a fast food job for part of my Masters degree and put it down. Showed I was busy, and, honestly, say what you will about burger flipping, that job helped a lot with multi-tasking experiments. :)

Also, you never can know what the person you're talking to went through. One of the top biochemists in the department would occasionally mention his days stocking shelves at Safeway. :)
Pakapaka on November 9th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
I think someone who wants to disqualify you would think either looks bad, so that part is luck. I think having two years of solid something looks pretty good.
Hafochafoc on November 9th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC)
Put it in. It shows you were doing SOMETHING. Also, if you don't say what you were doing the interviewer is likely to assume you have something to hide.

You do-- "I had to work retail!" But that's honorable work, nothing you need to be ashamed of. If you don't fill in the blank in your history the interviewer is going to fill it in for you, and odds are whatever they imagine would be something outright BAD. Don't give them the opportunity.
leonard_arlotteleonard_arlotte on November 9th, 2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
As someone who hires people as part of my job, I have to agree with the above people. Indicate that are working, and have been working for more than a year. You can dress up the title if you like, to Retail Customer Service Representative, but don't be self-deprecating, with something like 'comic store flunkie'. If you want to keep it simple, just say 'Register Operator'. Mention responsibilities you may have been given, including closing out the register or locking up the store. Though it may seem menial, it means that your managers have imparted some degree of trust and faith in you. That carries weight on your resume.

I'm sure you have mentioned it already, but be sure to include the length of service with the CG. That also shows committment.
doc_mysterydoc_mystery on November 9th, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC)
As someone who has interviewed medical students, residents, Fellows and even RNs, I'd put it in.

You are demonstrating persistence with your length of employment, ditto loyalty. Even working in retail sales gives a valuable skill-set, such as ability to work with others (ie. your boss and the public), communication skills, ability to work in fast paced and unpredictable circumstances, etc. Those who hire look for those skills, and when presented with two CVs identical save for one has work experience and the others do not, the tie goes to the person with more experience under their belt.

Sara/Caribousaribou on November 9th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
You should totally throw it up there. It's customer service experience. It's retail experience. It's not McDonalds.
Rikoshi Kisaragirikoshi on November 9th, 2009 08:07 pm (UTC)
Leave the comic shop in, for the many reasons already cited above.
Helvetica 'Foofers' Boldfoofers on November 9th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
Can you call it something other than a comic book shop? "Memorabilia" or some such?

Years ago a friend of mine had a summer job working on a construction site in Beverly Hills. The town is, y'know, kinda uppity, and it's actually in the municipal code that construction projects are required to control dust. So his job for the entire summer was to stand there with a hose and spray down the dirt so the bulldozers wouldn't kick up dust. This was described on his resume as "maintained soil quality to government standards."
Your Obedient Serpent: big ideasathelind on November 9th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
Well, the store name is either "Legends of Sports and Fantasy", or "Legends Comics & Games", depending on which business card/letterhead you look at.

The first sounds vaguely unsavory, if you ask me, which may be why the boss changed it (along with our almost complete elimination of sports memorabilia from our inventory).

I'm listing my title as "Sales Associate"; trying to fancy it up would suggest that I don't think the job itself is worthy of respect, and that's exactly the attitude I'm trying to kill-with-fire in my own head.

In addition to the cash-handling/opening/closing/make deposits part of the job (which always look good), I DID get the job because I Know The Product, and I know most of the regulars by sight (if not always by name), so "extensive knowledge of inventory lines and customer base" is on my list of Skills.
Helvetica 'Foofers' Boldfoofers on November 9th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
Could maybe just shorten it to "Legends" and leave out the comics bit.

Either way, I'd include it. Maybe describe it as a "recessionary job" if it even comes up in interview. It shows a willingness to get work done even if it's not the most glamorous of tasks. But not too much, else you just come across as desperate.
Helvetica 'Foofers' Boldfoofers on November 9th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
Best yet: do you resume like this.
Your Obedient Serpent: green hills of earthathelind on November 10th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
Y'know, being a cartographer and all, maybe I could adopt a map theme....
Anvil*: Horse1thoughtsdriftby on November 10th, 2009 01:22 am (UTC)
Yes, keep it in. Did they use a specific point-of-sale software or inventory control product/database?

In addition to your resume' you should put a skills sheet together. The resume' can concentrate on the jobs and accomplishments, but there's a bigger skill set of things you can do that wouldn't appear on a resume. Like software you're fluent with, types of assays, types of lab equipment, survey types, data reduction methods... It's a what do they get in addition to the job title they're hiring for.

It also makes it easier to match things you may have not held a specific job doing yet or that you might think to mention in an interview if they didn't specifically ask.
Your Obedient Serpent: Eye - VKathelind on November 10th, 2009 06:17 am (UTC)
We have an Advanced Heuristic Optical Inventory Scanning System -- in other words, "Let me see if it's on the shelf."

(Yes, I've used that joke in the store.)

I've ALWAYS had the Skills section in my resume; last year, I expanded and elaborated on it even more. I should probably touch it up again.

An HTML version of my resume, is online at http://www.dragoncanyon.com, BTW.
Anvil*: Horse1thoughtsdriftby on November 10th, 2009 08:07 am (UTC)
Just had to comment, I'm like that

Stray Thoughts:
Any diving or boat certifications?

Let's see, Homeland Security has been hiring people to interface with the Coast Guard including crime investigators. I wonder if they have a CSI like thing?

Tug Boat Captain?

With the Delta Waters bill I wonder what related research would be associated with that?

Guess I need to keep looking and thinking a bit more...

Moral Explorernotthebuddha on November 10th, 2009 05:04 am (UTC)
So what looks better? A resume that says "I work in a comic book shop", or one that says "I haven't worked at all since 2007"?

"I work at a collectibles dealer."