What's More Important: What You Did or Where You Did It?

Subject: What's More Important: What You Did or Where You Did It?
From: Maurice King <benadam -at- CYBERDUDE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 9 Feb 1999 13:05:40 -0500

I have encountered a very peculiar phenomenon while job shopping. I would like feedback from other members of the list, because I cannot understand it very well.

In today's job market, it's not uncommon to move from one job to the next, because employers no longer assume paternalistic roles, because companies downsize or reorganize without notice, because contracting is so commonplace nowadays, or whatever reason. As a result, résumé formats vary. Some companies that deal in assisting job seekers maintain that the functional résumé (lists achievements and experience without relating to specific employers) is rapidly becoming the preferred format, while some companies still insist on the chronological résumé, which lists each job, regardless of length, and lists the tasks performed in each job.

In my case, I have a considerable history of working as a freelancer. If I were to list every project I worked on as a freelancer, it would be impossible to list them chronologically, as many of them overlapped; it might take a linear graph to show start and finish dates, and that would definitely not make a good impression. However, I have been surprised to hear from many companies that have called me that they fully expect me to list every project individually with precise start and finish dates and to give me contact persons from each project! I find this demand more than absurd; first of all, many of the projects were for companies that no longer exist, and even if they do, the personnel may have changed radically or the companies may have relocated, so I have no way of knowing what contact information to give. Add to that the fact that these contacts are not in the U.S. and you can understand my dilemma. The companies seem to imply that if I cannot provide all this inform!
ation, then the experience is not relevant!

I can certainly understand that a company might be hesitant to choose a candidate to assume a position that requires years of experience as a manager in a corporation if the experience were acquired as a self-employed contractor. However, I do question the notion that an experienced writer with a proven track record and excellent references can be regarded as a newbie because of many years of being self employed, and that is what I have faced.

I am dismissing the comment that one person made when hearing about my freelance work: "But you worked in so many different places; didn't you ever think of working in just one?" The whole notion of being a freelance writer is not to be anchored to just one employer, and such a question leaves me wondering if the person who asked it had any idea what freelancing is about.

Have others of you experience similar incidents? I would be very interested in hearing of them.

- Maury

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