Teacher Tim's TEFL International Blog April 2nd, 2011

A Resume By Any Other Name

I don’t know how it is in your native country, but in America it is drilled into your head from before you leave the womb that you need an outstanding resume, one that shines like the North Star and smells like roses in June. Otherwise, you can expect to ride the rails as a hobo for the rest of your miserable life; no one is going to give you the time of day if your resume is not a piece of smoothly crafted genius, without a seam showing.

This mindset presented me with several hurdles when I initially began searching for teaching jobs here in Thailand. I have several, uh, piquant episodes in my past careers that would take a Dickens, or perhaps a Freud, to thoroughly explain away.

For instance, there was the episode with Michu, the World’s Smallest Man. I worked with him at Ringling Brother Circus and unfortunately he took a very jaundiced view of me, going so far one day as to pour a beer over a book I was reading. Showing considerable restraint, as I thought, I picked him up and locked him in his wardrobe trunk. But there is an unwritten rule with the circus that you cannot touch the “little people”, as all midgets and dwarves are called; so I was blacklisted from the circus. That kind of thing is hard to condense into one bland sentence in a resume. And there was the radio station down in Kansas where I went to work as the assistant News Director. The station manager had one hard and fast rule for all male employees – wear a necktie to work every day. No problem for me; I had a closet full of ‘em. But the third day of work I decided to add a touch of whimsy to the humdrum of the broadcast routine, so I wore a bowtie instead of a necktie. I was immediately called into the manager’s office and fired for “insubordination”. I kid you not.

Then there was another radio station a few years later where I aired an April Fool’s story about a man losing his head in an auto accident and running a radiothon to raise money to buy him a new head – some birdbrain actually stopped into the office and left five dollars as a contribution. The FCC took a dim view of that prank, as did my employer, and I found myself pounding the pavement looking for work for months afterwards.

In other words, a careful perusal of my resume would reveal certain inexplicable gaps in employment that might make wonderful after-dinner stories over the port and brandy, but would reflect poorly on me in the cold light of a Human Resources office.

So when I came to Thailand to teach I worried over my resume like a Cordon Bleu chef over a sweetbreads soufflé.

I finally fashioned a resume that was a blend of fantasy, fact, and convenient amnesia, that I thought would pass muster. It made me appear to be an Einstein with a solid work background that any mother would be proud of. Even mine.

I shot this piece of work off to dozens of schools and always got the same reply, when I got one at all – “Where’s your picture?”

Here in Thailand you can’t send someone a postcard without including your photo with it. Well, I shrugged my shoulders at such eccentricities and got a dozen passport quickie photos to send out.

I was hired as an ESL teacher in a matter of days after that!

And over the years what I inevitably found out was that outside of glancing at my resume to make sure I was a native English speaker, no one in any school I ever worked for ever gave my resume a second glance – they were only interested in my photograph. Were my eyes crossed? Was my nose pierced? Did I have a hare lip? Did my eyebrows meet in the middle of my forehead?

I wasted all that time on my wretched resume when what I should have been doing was doctoring my photograph to look like Cary Grant!

I wised up pretty fast, though. Whenever I needed or wanted a different teaching job here in amazing, whimsical Thailand, I have spent good money on getting a professional portrait done. It’s done the trick every time!

Of course, there came a day when even I, a born prevaricator, didn’t dare send a photo of myself twenty years ago – I had grown too grotesque, even clownish, with jowls and double chins and bags under eyes the size of a Gladstone, and a widow’s peak. In a word, today I look like a gargoyle, and even if I had won the Nobel prize in Language Teaching they’d still never dare put my ugly mug in front of a class of tender Thai children. Except as some kind of warning.

Of course my Thai fiancé Joom doesn’t think I’m homely at all . . .

Hmm . . . I think I better take her in to an optometrist.