Patterns of Remembering on Résumés

Patterns of Remembering on Résumés 


Ferhan Tunagur, Rutgers University 

Ferhan Tunagur is a Ph.D. candidate in Communication at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He received a B.A. in Communication Studies from Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey; and an M.A. in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. His research and teaching interests are in language and social interaction, ethnography of communication, parent-child interactions, classroom interactions, qualitative and microanalytic research methods. His main research interest lies in microanalytic approaches to videotaped face-to-face interactions. He is currently studying approaches to face-to-face interactions, especially the use of recording devices such as video and audio recording techniques to study parent-child interactions.

Abstract

A significant amount of mnemonic socialization of professional life occurs through résumés; that is, through observing, preparing, reading, writing, editing, and updating of résumés. Résumés are sites of self-representation that entails one’s presentation of his or her past to various audiences, which in turn entails one’s remembering of his/her own past. The remembering which occurs on résumés is social, learned, patterned, and structured. This paper presents an account that reveals those patterns of remembering. It focuses on identifying the underlying formal features of self-representation through this presentation of one’s past. By linking past events to the present, the context is re-created as a means of portraying the present condition of an individual. This paper argues that on individual résumés, the personal recollections manifest a collective mindset, a collective remembering of the past. The ways in which individuals remember their past displays patterns of a collective memory. This paper uses the method of pattern analysis which aims to capture commonalities and consistencies, rather than the frequency of textual occurrences, on résumés. Finally, patterns of remembering found at various social sites are examined and compared with résumés. These include naming practices, use of mental gaps, social construction of discontinuity and continuity, and in general the social marking of past events.

Introduction

This essay focuses on “identifying the underlying formal features” (Zerubavel 2003, p. 7) of self-representation through the presentation of one’s past on résumés. A significant amount of “mnemonic socialization” (1997, p. 87) of professional life occurs through the observation, preparation, reading, writing, editing, and updating of résumés. A résumé is a site of self-representation, one that entails a person’s presentation of his or her past to various audiences. This process includes one’s remembering of his or her past, which illustrates the social, learned, patterned, and structured nature of these memories. The aim of this article is to provide an account that uncovers and reveals those patterns, with an aim to explore questions such as “How does one’s life begin, not on one’s birthday, but rather when one enters college?”, “How might three months at one job be equal to thirty years in another?”, “How can one suddenly cease to be a financial analyst and become a software engineer?”

The basic claim advanced here is that individual résumés manifest a collective mindset – a collective remembering of the past. The means by which individuals remember their past displays patterns of a collective memory that these individuals share with each other as members of a group (Zerubavel, 2003). Patterns observed on résumés are not exclusive to them; they are in a broader sense patterns of remembering. The following piece is not introducing a unique way of examining résumés, but will attempt to add analysis to the study of already uncovered and revealed patterns of remembering. Pattern analysis of résumés entails using a lens that captures what is common among these documents rather than their differences (Zerubavel, 2007). Patterns are not revealed through the frequency of action, but rather are uncovered by looking for commonalities and consistencies (Durkheim, 1912).

The typified nature of résumés is revealed by looking closely through such a lens (Schutz and Luckmann, 1973). Résumés are not merely individualistic accomplishments, nor are they objective realities. What is offered on résumés presents a strong case of various typifications, such as the use of space, naming practices, use of mental gaps, social construction of discontinuity and continuity, presentation of overlapping events, progress narratives, bridging in-between events, lumping separate experiences, and in general the social marking of past events. Typifications increase predictability; individuals learn what to expect on résumés. This is at the very center of how mnemonic socialization takes place on résumés, and is required to make sense of them.

The remembering of past events and experiences, and the presentation of that practice, tell a great deal about the present condition of an entity. In the case of résumés, presenting past experiences in patterned ways informs us about the present professional condition of the individual. In practical terms, this is the purpose of asking for one. On résumés, by linking past events to the present, the context is re-created in order to claim that the present condition of an individual is fitting the requirements of a job position.

One example is the practice of doctors asking for patients’ medical history before examining them, because their present medical condition is embedded in their medical history. This is the same pattern utilized in the professional world when résumés are asked for. Individuals are asked to present themselves, and on résumés this is achieved by presenting themselves through their history.

Methodology

One of the biggest challenges of this study is the difficulty present in accessing personal résumés. Often, these documents are stored in organizational databases or can only be found individually. However, websites such as Craig’s List offer an opportunity to access personal résumés. Viewing and posting content is free and open to any individual with access to the Internet (see www.craigslist.org). As such, this database of résumés was chosen for this study because it includes documents from a variety of job applicants, from the U.S. and abroad. In order to observe patterns at multiple levels, a large number of résumés with varying content were necessary. Résumés available on the Craig’s List website satisfy this need.

86 résumés were collected from Craig’s List, and analyzed for the current study. Of the 86 selected, the résumés ranged from those of high school students to executive-level professionals, representing various states in the U.S. One important limitation to note is that the selected résumés are all written in English, and therefore may not be representative of the cultural differences of non-English speaking countries or non-English speaking Americans.

In addition to résumés from Craig’s List, I also collected different versions of résumés from people I know personally. They provided me with current versions that they use to apply to different positions, and older versions that they modified over time. My reason for collecting résumés from my personal acquaintances was that I found it very difficult to access older and current versions of résumés belonging to the same people. I wanted to see how individuals modify their résumés through time and according to different positions to which they are applying. By comparing older versions with current ones, I wanted to discover how remembering and presentation of past experiences change over time. Fourteen people provided me various versions of their résumés. I will refer to these as person 1, person 2, and so on.

Social Marking of Past Events

A résumé can be thought of through the vocabulary of the sacred and the profane, with the difference made visible through inclusion of only the sacred in the document’s text. Anything that is not presented can be described as profane (Durkheim, 1912).  Attributes such as emotions and feelings, failures, moments of doubts or discontentment, or salaries are never presented on résumés. Practices of everyday professional life such as constant telephone calls, checking e-mail, having lunch, or meetings, are not recorded. Attributes such as race, socio-economic background, and religious affiliation are not presented, although one can argue that résumé readers might predict some of these qualities tacitly from individual’s names, educational institutions attended or previous place of employment (see Bertrand and Mullainathan [2004] for a discussion of racial discrimination through names on résumés). Even gender might be added here as it is not explicitly stated on résumés. This list may be organised numerically or categorically, and we observe major omissions from one’s professional past on a résumé. The omitted time periods are those which our social mnemonic lenses make us blind to (Zerubavel, 1997). They are not unimportant or less worthy of note, but they are unobservable by our senses. Through time and repeated practices of résumé writing and reading, our social lenses become trained to find some information irrelevant to résumés. In this way, we become unaware of all the things that we learn to omit on résumés. In other words, all that is omitted becomes what Durkheim would call “the profane” (1912).

The framing of a résumé suggests its own expectations. Some pieces of information might appear strange as they are unexpected, such as elementary school information or prison time served (Goffman, 1974). On the other hand, what is not strange puts forward the expected information that résumé writers and readers take for granted. Examples such as constantly seeing various sections on the résumé, empty lines in-between sections, skills presented, the structure of presenting the company or the school name first, then the city and dates of employment or education, and titles, show what is relevant in the frame of résumés. Additionally, if we were to reverse some structural features of résumés, aspects which are taken for granted would be revealed. Through this practice, the patterns of résumés would become much more observable.

Mead claims that symbols are used to convey a message that we expect others to understand (1934). The expectations so generated in résumés have different levels of inter-subjectivity (Schutz 1962, 12). There are features that people expect from all résumés, and there are features that are expected from each professional community’s résumés. A portfolio, or a link to a portfolio, details about specific software programs, proficiency in various languages, links to completed projects, and references are expected, based on the norms and assumptions that define a particular profession. This mechanism of expectation, at any level, is the basis of how the conventions of résumés - both reading and writing them - are created.

Critical Dates and Their Intervals

Résumés are tailored around professionally related times, dates and their intervals; other life events are omitted – they are profane, irrelevant, and are systematically placed out of frame (Zerubavel, 1985; Goffman, 1974). Hubert claims that the social marking of time consists of the interaction between critical dates and their intervals (1905). Résumés are great examples for this observation: our everyday practices are composed of many daily routines that can fill the time, but on résumés only the critical dates and their intervals are noted. Individuals view their past through this lens, actively omitting daily routines that are irrelevant to what is socially acceptable to present on résumés. Individuals are actively selecting and deselecting among events, privileging some over others. Thus, we observe an incongruity in the manner of noting time on résumés.

According to Hubert, the unmarked is everything that is between two marked dates (1905). On a tombstone for instance, only the birth date and death date of an individual are marked; on a résumé, marked dates are educational or professional in nature. Events not marked are the profane and irrelevant in the context of résumés. If we reduce the résumé to the dates marked, such as, “1999-present,” “1996-1999,” “1994-1996,” and “1987-1994,” we notice that 1995 and 1998 are structurally identical as they are unmarked. Years such as 1987 and 1999 are also structurally identical. On a résumé, from the lens of this structural pattern, we can say that the years spent unemployed and the years spent working 80 hours a week are structurally identical, as they will be unmarked in between marked dates.

Notice also what is actually indicated by the years 1987-1998 in the above example. The years 1987 and 1999 actually mark one single day in the years 1987 and 1999. Those years are not the years that the individual changed his/her professional position; those are the years that include the specific days that the individual moved from one job to another. Instead of exact dates, years are marks of times of change. Those specific days transform the years that they belong to, and make them marked years. Sacred, marked dates/times are these small, short periods making them unique and extraordinary. Hubert and Mauss argue that time periods which are quantitatively identical can be qualitatively different (1909). Thus, only some aspects are marked and only some parts of time are utilized and remembered. As White observes, when writing about the past some events are highlighted and some others are suppressed (1978). 

Social Construction of Discontinuity

On résumés, past events are remembered in discontinuous categories (Zerubavel, 1998). We do not see a narrative that starts from the beginning and finishes in the end. The résumé is tailored around discontinuous sections such as “Education,” “Professional Experience,” “Skills” and “Objective.” The individual presents past events as they fit in these categories. For instance, skills developed in early or late years will all be presented at the very end of the document, and they will not follow a timeline. No matter when one receives a degree, it will always be marked in its own section, separated from other marked experiences that might have occurred at the same time. Thus, temporal boundaries are socially created, and past events are remembered according to such boundaries (Zerubavel, 1991). With the help of these structured categories, a discontinuity is created. Individuals organize their remembering of the past with the lenses of these discontinuous categories, wherein events are remembered in categorical terms following certain patterns. Regardless of whether a position lasted only a few months or if it was held for several years, they are remembered in structurally identical terms.

Naming

One feature of résumés that help create discontinuity is the practice of naming sections (Zerubavel, 2003). Naming allows and establishes discrete segments (Whorf, 1956). Section names found the most frequently in the sample group include:  

    Objective

    Qualifications Summary

    Accomplishment Summary

    Work Experience

    Professional Experience

    Employment History

    Employment

    Education

    Educational Experience

    Educational Background

    Summary of Skills

    Technical Skills

    Skills

    Technologies

    Interests

    References 

    The list is composed of similar terms that center on four major groups: an objective or a summary section, the individual’s employment past, the individual’s educational past, and a section about skills acquired in the past. Through these naming practices, discrete segments are created. More importantly, one can observe how individuals perceive and present their pasts. On a résumé, it would be unconventional to observe a presentation of one’s past without using these naming practices. Through these section names, discrete and discontinuous sections of résumés are established.  

Semiotic Redundancy

In addition to section names, practices of semiotic redundancy are observed with action verbs (Zerubavel, 2003; Ireland, 2003). There are a limited number of verbs found in most résumés, describing duties and roles in past professional experiences. Samplings of the verbs used include: addressed, chaired, conceptualized, coordinated, demonstrated, designed, developed, directed, established, evaluated, facilitated, forecasted, founded, identified, increased, managed, organized, oversaw, performed, planned, projected, supervised, and upgraded.

Through the use of these verbs, not only is a specific social lens used, but an individual’s approach to remembering their past is also established, structured and contextualized (Bateson, 1955). Aside from section names and the use of action words, the construction and the nature of discontinuous segments are also achieved through stylistic practices. The use of bullets, paragraphs, empty lines, fonts, and font colors are examples of résumé routinization. Notice also the rigidity of not only names, verbs or stylistic features, but also how each section of a résumé is constructed. With only a limited number of verbs, names, and stylistic features, each section is composed of a company name, a city name, dates employed, and four to six sentences describing duties and roles. The repetitiveness creates assumptions and norms around the information presented on résumés.  

Cognitive Islands

Besides observing how discontinuity is constructed on résumés, it is also worth mentioning the purpose of such constructions. Separate sections on a résumé are like cognitive islands (Zerubavel, 1991). We start to think only in those sectional terms. The majority of résumés are organized within these categories. The past is only remembered through these lenses and categories.

To visually establish these categories as discontinuous chunks, empty lines above and below sections are utilized. Out of the continuous education and employment experience of the individual, discrete cognitive islands are created by the use of visual gaps. The reader can now perceive experiences discretely from each other. The perceived separateness of experiences highlights the significance of mental gaps found in them (Zerubavel, 1991). 

Perpetuity

Two of the typical sections of resumes are special cases. First is “objective” or the “qualifications summary” section. This section contains information where individuals explicitly claim that their background (their past, in other words) fits the requirements of a specific job (organization’s expectations from that individual in the future). This part is like a micro form of the whole document. It may consist of a single sentence, or sometimes of several sentences. For most writers, the remaining part of the document is used to prove or to explain what has been said in the objective/qualifications summary section. A sense of timelessness is observed here (Zerubavel, 2003). The main part of the résumé is composed of dates and what the individual has accomplished on these dates. The information provided in this part is timely. Even though it consists of discontinuous parts, the whole document shows the individual on a timeline, citing various years of education and employment. However, the information provided in the objective/qualifications summary section does not have this timely quality. As can be seen from the examples below, a timelessness of qualifications is observed, unlike other information on the document:  

    An aggressive learner

    A self-motivated individual

    A key sense of marketing

    Results-oriented Creative Director

    Business savvy professional

    Trustworthy, ethical, and discreet

    Confident and poised in interactions with individuals

    Detail-oriented and resourceful in completing projects

    Able to multi-task effectively

    Results oriented Human Resources professional

    Excellent interpersonal skills

    Ability to serve as liaison between departments 

A more drastic case of timelessness can be found in the “skills” section. This section usually appears toward the end of the document and it consists of languages, interests, computer languages, computer applications, software programs, etc. They are presented as if these skills are part of the individual at all times, or as if they exist at all times, detached from the individual. They do not belong to any time, date or year. 

Lumping

On résumés, life starts during one’s college years. Everything before that is lumped into non-existence (Zerubavel, 1991). One can easily make a case that from various perspectives and angles, an individual’s early years might be the most important ones in his/her development, even in the case of professional development. But all those years are absent on a résumé. Résumés are written in such a way that the first twenty years are usually ignored.

In the professional experience section, presentation varies according to how recent the experience is. On some résumés, the most recent experience is presented in a more detailed way compared to earlier experiences. Here, the presentation of differing earlier experiences is similar. They are all stated using four to six sentences, as if they are related to each other. One may expect that if one spent more time at a position, its presentation would also be longer. But on a résumé, all those years are lumped together so that the presentation of the position fits an average of four to six sentences. The opposite can also be observed on résumés. For positions that were held for less time, the presentation is still the same: 4-6 sentences. Even in the case of short term internship experiences, individuals treat them the same way they would treat long term professional experiences.

On some other résumés, the most recent experience may also get the same treatment as others. Thus, one observes that even the most recent memories can be presented in such a way that those years are lumped together the way earlier memories are lumped together. When one observes the same treatment for both early and later experiences, the typified and the social nature of remembering on résumés becomes clearer. This formal feature of résumés is similar to the way our collective memories work in regard to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as noted by Frisch (1989), or the way parents tend to forget details about their children’ past and lump them together, and cannot remember whether some incidents happened to one child or the other.  

Heterogeneity and Homogeneity of Time

One last feature of remembering through discontinuous sections on résumés is the heterogeneity and homogeneity of time (Bergson, 1910). Within each part of a section, there is a sense of calmness, as if in those years or months the individual is not experiencing any change, disturbance, or always doing the same thing, always sure about his/her duties, never looking for another position, never doubting his/her situation, and consistently reaching goals. Within these subcategories of sections, there is a strong sense of coherence and uniformity. On the other hand, in-between parts of sections, and in-between sections themselves, change and transition are observed.  Time is remembered as homogenous inside parts of sections, but heterogeneous outside of sections. 

Social Construction of Continuity

The previous section discussed how discontinuity is constructed through separate sections; and how discontinuity is used to present one’s professional past. This section explores the nature of a second kind of mnemonic socialization that takes place on résumés that constructs connectedness and continuity among discontinuous segments of résumés (Zerubavel, 2003). Before going into details of this formal feature, I would like to point out that continuity among separate sections has to be constructed since one’s past is already segmented into separate discontinuous sections on the résumé; thus some form of continuity and connectedness among sections and parts of sections has to be created in order to make sense of the whole document.

There might not be a direct relationship between some qualities or skills acquired with one’s career, but it is presented as such. One might not have made a direct connection between the classes taken at school with a specific job, but they are presented as connected. Even if there are gaps between degrees, these are presented in the same section as if they are continuous. The same feature is observed in the professional experience section. 

Abruptness

When looking at separate sections of a résumé, one notices that there are abrupt changes from one section to another (Zerubavel, 1979). A new position is presented by a new section. There is an empty line in-between sections, then the new section starts with a new title, new company, new duties, new accomplishments, and new client lists. One observes that in résumés, no matter how coherently past events are presented, change occurs very suddenly. It is almost as if a new identity is presented. Nothing is presented about the events that led to that change, such as problems, or deficiencies with the old position or old school, the time that it took the individual to think and evaluate the situation, the time that he/she spent to look for the new position, the negotiations, both with the new and the old company, or anything that might have happened in between the two positions. The change of positions is observed very suddenly.  

Bridging

This form of abruptness is overcome by the use of empty lines. Collectively, we all take meaning from this and understand that the résumé owner left the previous position and started the new one. It is this social and collectively shared culture that allows us all to achieve a meaning of continuity in-between positions that the individual occupied. These empty lines act as visual cues which are utilized to bridge one event in the past to another one (Zerubavel, 2003). The context of résumé reading and writing, and the way past events are presented makes it apparent to the reader that these events are connected, coherent, and even gradual and part of a natural continuum. But, in fact, these are separate experiences. Presented in a different context, in a different place and time, and presented in a different form (which does not even have to be textual), these events would seem disconnected from each other. If we do not think about the individual for a moment and concentrate only on the job titles at specific companies, we would be taken away from the connectedness among them, and we would be taken by the idiosyncrasies of the organizations, naming patterns of organizations, hierarchies and power relations, etc. The only connection between these titles is the specific individual who held them at some specific points in time. Dates are another bridging technique. The end dates and the beginning dates are the only information that is shared by separate sections, as in the example of: (1995-1998, 1998-2001).

Gaplessness

Another feature of résumés can be described by gaplessness (Zerubavel, 2003). Among the résumés selected from craigslist.org, I could not find any résumés with yearly gaps. There might be a few explanations for this. It is possible for an individual to leave a position and find another one in the same year, and have a few months in between them. This gap cannot be presented since only years are marked on résumés. A better explanation is that there is a social expectation on the résumé not to see gaps. The formal structures found on résumés transform these documents into sites where it is socially unacceptable to present gaps. If there are gaps in the employment history, they are filled with work that would be otherwise left out of the résumé, such as internships, self employment, participation in training programs, or various forms of educational activities. One cannot claim that all of these activities are presented on résumés to avoid gaps, but the fact that all of the selected résumés present a gapless history of employment and education convinces me that this is not a specific case of accumulated concurrence, but rather an indication of an important structural feature found on résumés. On résumés, it is socially expected to present a gapless history of being occupied at all times with something, and ideally improving oneself constantly.  

Progress Narratives

In résumés, individuals are trying to build a coherent gradual narrative that ends at a specific point, which assumes that the individual has gradually built his/her way up to that ideal point by an ideal past, acquiring the necessary skills (Zerubavel, 2003). This narrative begins with the end of high school, wherein each individual has a very coherent, very motivated and accomplished plan of action, with no gaps or uncertainties. There are three important observations to note here. First, only information that is relevant to this gradual progression is presented. Second, the past is presented in such a way that the individual has been working on this process from the beginning and that all the elements of his/her past are relevant to his/her gradual progress to the present and relevant to the present conditions. Only the parts that are congruent with this gradual narrative are included. Third, the nature of the gradual narrative is idealistic. Individuals give the sense that they have always made conscious decisions to work toward their ideals. All past events are remembered to support this ideal narrative. It is important to note that not only are past events remembered in such a way, but the skills or accomplishments that one acquired are also presented to fit the ideal narrative.

Individuals, in a sense, claim that they have been designing their past experiences to achieve this point in the present, to arrive at this point where they meet with the ideals of the organization to which they are applying. In order to say “I am the person that you are looking for, because I have the right past record…” past events need to be linked in the present for this trajectory of the future (Zerubavel, 2003). Individuals are implicitly claiming what they can accomplish in the future. It is also important to note that people have indecisive moments, changes of ideas and ideals, and consider outside factors when making decisions such as marriage, children, death of parents, wars, etc. These experiences are never presented because they do not fit the ideal narrative. On résumés, a decline narrative is never present (Zerubavel, 2003).

What is at stake here is the idea that through time, experiences, and skills, one is “becoming” better. The individual is constantly improving by every educational and professional experience, and acquiring new skills in the meantime. Thus, along the lines of “evolutionary” concepts, the later person is the better person (Zerubavel, 2003). This may explain why résumés start with the latest professional or educational experiences.

In cases when individuals do not have enough past experiences to show this progress, the individual goes back to earlier dates and experiences to mark the beginning of professional experiences. Through this practice, time/history that is presented on the résumé is extended, and prolonged. For instance, if the initial narrative is as short as the following:  

     T → T1 → T2 

There is a tendency to go to earlier experiences otherwise unworthy of mentioning, and the narrative looks like the following: 

T-2 → T-1 → T → T1 → T2 

Thus, experiences such as Day Camp Counselor, Activity Director’s Assistant, Cashier, Intern, Software Test Engineer, A+ Trainee are included on résumés to show that there is some form of progress. This creates more time array within the résumé; there are no “pure beginnings” (Zerubavel 2003, 101-110) on résumés. The practice of going back to earlier experiences ceases once the individual has enough experiences to present. Among the résumés collected, person 5 presents his group counselor activity, which is omitted in a later version. Person 9 includes her high school information in an early version of her résumé, and person 12 starts his professional experience section with an internship experience, which is also dropped in a later version. Thus, beginnings within résumés are rearranged according to the number of experiences they present. Among the selected résumés, the minimum number of experiences presented is three, while the majority have between 5 to 6 professional experiences.

      

Presentation of Overlapping Events

In some résumés, the past events are arranged chronologically. In others there are overlaps between the time periods presented not only between professional occupations, but between educational activities as well (Zerubavel, 2003). In those cases, overlapping events are presented as discontinuous from each other. They have their own separate sections the same way other job titles are presented, the ones held back-to-back.  In other narrative forms, these experiences would be presented together, using conjunctions such as “while,” “in the meantime,” “meanwhile.” Overlaps between jobs or degrees are also presented discontinuously, but by using a different method – in this case, a visual separator – even though one can easily understand that these events are overlapping by checking the dates of the job tenure. Even though it is evident that events are overlapping (through the use of dates) they are presented discontinuously in separate sections.

Several résumés on Craig’s List feature work experience while attending college. That experience is presented under the professional experience section. It is distanced from the overlapping educational experience, which is found under its own section. The distance is inflated (Zerubavel, 1991). Acquired skills present an extreme case here. Not only are they distanced from the overlapping experiences, but they are also distanced from the time they co-occurred with other events, duties and accomplishments that the individual experienced. One can argue that most of those skills are acquired while at school or in a professional position, but on résumés they are taken apart and distanced from each other. 
 

Suggestions for Future Studies

This study seeks to illustrate patterns across résumés as a form of self-representation. It would be productive to look at other sites of self-representation with these patterns in mind, such as prefaces to books, history books, company “about us” sections, or mission statements. It would be further beneficial to look at other levels of representation, including dyadic, familial, group, organizational, religious, cultural, linguistic, or national levels. It is possible that some of the patterns that emerge from résumés may not be relevant or even present, while others are more punctuated at other levels.

Limitations

The current study examines résumés from a single source. Even though the résumé database of Craig’s List is very diverse, some forms of résumés are not represented. Additional types of résumés could both help identify new patterns, and strengthen the presence of the patterns that are already identified. Résumés on Craig’s List are mostly in on-line forms. Some are created for off-line purposes and then uploaded to the site. Others are created solely to be posted on the Internet. The flexibility of space in on-line résumés could create practices that are specific to them. It is impossible to differentiate between on-line and off-line résumés on Craig’s List. Therefore, if there are specific patterns of on-line or off-line résumés, those patterns are not identified by the current study. One other limitation of the study is that most of the résumés on Craig’s List are résumés that are looking for a new employment opportunity. Therefore, they are not representing all résumés, since the resumes of people that are not looking for new employment are not represented.

Conclusion

This study concentrated on revealing underlying formal features of remembering on résumés. As sites of self-representation, these documents feature various patterns of mnemonic socialization of professional life.  The study focused on providing detailed analysis to emphasize social, learned, and structured natures of remembering patterns. Demonstration of these patterns establishes the basic claim of this study: one can locate a collective mindset and a collective remembering of the past on an individual and personal document featuring a variety of idiosyncratic information about a single individual. The way individuals remember their past displays patterns of a collective memory that these individuals share with each other as members of a group. Patterns of remembering on résumés not only showcase what to expect on résumés and help make sense of these documents, but they also help us trace manifestations of this collective mindset. Such collective remembering of the past further informs us on the current state of our collective mindset. 

 

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