In Praise of Not Reading Resumes


**Disclaimer: I almost called this post “Stop Googling People” but if y’all literally took that advice I’d be out of a job, so this felt like a good compromise **

I’m not going to argue that resumes don’t have their place, but I’ve had a few experiences lately that have reminded me of the magic that comes when you interact with someone at face value, simply as a fellow human being and not as a list of accomplishments, accolades and alma maters.

There’s this kind, bespectacled, soft-spoken man who is a greeter at my church – his name is Bill – and every Sunday when I inevitably run into church 10 (err, maybe 20) minutes late, he gives me a huge smile and says “Good Morning Mary!”  This has happened for months and months – 10 or 15 second greetings at the church door, chit chat about the weather or the sanctuary or the sermon.  He exudes this quiet, authentic kindness – he makes me feel known, like if I didn’t show up for church he would notice, and I would be missed.  Those 15 second interactions make me feel like I belong to a community, that my presence matters, that I as a person matter – and isn’t that what we all want?  To belong – to be part of a community, a family, an “us” – to have our presence and life and whole self matter?

I was starting to feel badly that after months and months I didn’t really know much about Bill, so I started chatting with him after the service a few weeks ago, and asked him if he had any summer vacations plans.  “Well,” he replied ” I was in Amsterdam last week, so I think my summer travel is over for now.”  “Amsterdam?” I replied.  “How neat! Why were you in Amsterdam?” expecting him to say that he and his wife went there on vacation.

“Oh it was a work trip,” he responded.  “A work trip, huh? Where do you work, Bill?” “Oh, I work for Tesla.”  “Oh, sure, Tesla – I think I’ve heard of them..(insert sarcastic font here).  And what do you do for Tesla?”  “Oh, I manage financial services – well I’m the VP of financial services, and Amsterdam is our European hub so I spent a week out there with the team.  It was a nice trip, it’s really beautiful out there.”  He then proceeded to ask me what I do, and was super interested, asking me tons of questions and if I liked my work (I assure you my job is not as interesting nor as impressive as being a VP at Tesla).

My favorite part about this interaction is I had to pull this information out of him – I kept asking questions until he told me where he worked and what he did – that he’s a VP at one of the most high-profile companies in Silicon Valley.  But thats just the thing – that’s not who who is, it’s what he does – and that makes all the difference.  Who he is is a kind, thoughtful, humble person, and I’m sure he brings that same person to his high-profile company and they are better for it.

Today I met a group of folks from a small company who had a meeting with my boss.  We were waiting for our conference room to open, so we sat around making small talk until one of them commented on the “Gryffindor” sticker on my laptop (yes, I’m a total HP nerd, and proud of it! #mugglesftw).  This ignited a passionate conversation about Harry Potter.

The Millennial Guy in the group and I reminisced about standing in line at midnight when the second book came out, while a quiet, cheery 40-something guy talked about how his three sons – 14, 12 and 8 – never quite got into the series.  This somehow segued into discussions of costume parties and work karaoke, and by the time I left them I was thinking “aw, they were so nice, I would totally hang out with those people.”

When I got back to my desk I looked up the company they work for, curious what they did (note that I had not done this before I met them – I knew their first names and the company name, and that’s all the info that seemed relevant).  I started reading their bios and found out Millenial Guy (who I’m guessing is my age, if not a few years younger) has an MBA from Harvard and worked at the White House.  Sure – it’s like my co-worker who is a doula for teen and incarcerated moms in her spare time – just standard, right?  The real kicker is the Older Smiling Guy who was talking about his sons – he used to be the CFO at Facebook.

When I read that I laughed out loud –  I spent 15 minutes talking to Facebook’s former CFO about Harry Potter.  And you know what, I’m so glad that I did.

I like to think I don’t care about titles, that I’m not impressed or affected by power or money or all the things that this world uses to judge a person’s worth and value and importance – but the truth is I’m human, and it’s way too easy for me to fall into the trap of treating “important” people differently, in a way that is not good for them or for me.

Today’s experience was this breath-of-fresh-air window into what happens when we put down the flat, 2-dimensional, 12-point Times New Roman ways of seeing one another – especially in Silicon Valley – and start seeing  people as they were made to be seen: works of art made in the image of a God who is way beyond 2-dimensional, bursting in glorious technicolor, incapable of being boxed in, labeled and categorized into file folders.

I want to have more experiences like the one I had today, to see people – truly see them – for all of who they are and who they were made to be.  To experience them as people first  – people with passions and pet peeves, people with stories to tell and scars that tell stories for them (#HarryPotter), people who are messy, uneven, unruly, unstructured, Comic Sans font type people.

Those are my kind of people, because I’m that kind of person – or at least I want to be.  I don’t want to live my life in a buttoned up, black-and-white, evenly spaced kind of way – I want to hard core nerd out about Harry Potter and squeal over cute babies and laugh too loudly and drink too much coffee and run too fast and generally be a glorious technicolor version of myself.  And I want to see and delight in that richness in other people, because after all isn’t that what life is all about?  Knowing and being known, not as our corporate bios but as we truly are, messiness, imperfections and all?

If not reading resumes will get me closer to that kind of life, those kind of relationships, I say bring me the shredder!  Or close your favorite search engine…no, wait, you can still Google lots of other things!  Dinosaurs, Bundt Cakes, Canada – Google those! All super interesting, I promise!