Just like everyone else in my position, I spend about as much time on LinkedIn as I do on Facebook. Snooping through would-be interesting contacts, reading up on what slightly aging experts in the industry can tell me about my own generation, and of course looking for job openings, or ways to vamp up my resume. One of the ways to do that, is to look at peers and copy their skills. Or, some skills.
One of the things I absolutely hate, is the polished turds I see floating by on resumes or job postings. I have gotten many emails the last few weeks praising my resume and inviting me for an interview as a telemarketer or door-to-door salesman. Of course, the positions aren’t called telemarketers. Instead, I would be applying for ‘Financial Services Representative’, ‘Financial Professional Associate’ or any other three words that imply some significance while you trick retired widows out of their pension. What is worse, however, is the listing of ‘skills’ by my own peers that have gotten out of hand. The worst ‘skill’ of all is language.
I studied journalism and to be a Dutch high school teacher. For three years, I have been beaten with grammar and style until I bled the proper use of semicolons. I study writing in my own time, and every now and then people will ask me to proofread their stuff. If I could, I would do it all day; with my red pen in hand, laughing manically while I whip my ‘recommendations’ all over the page. I dare say I am more than proficient in Dutch. Yet, the language itself is not a skill. Writing is. Speaking, and listening even more so, are both valuable skills. Proofreading is a skill. Writing for certain audiences is a skill. But Dutch itself isn’t. Before you get to Kindergarten, you’ll likely think and talk in Dutch as much as any professor would. Think of it as if it were breathing in a healthy rhythm. You don’t have a choice, therefore it is not a skill. Also, I bet there’s at least one linguistic error in your resume.