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Ancient history

We’re moving in a few weeks, and our new home will have less storage space than our current one. The many boxes of memorabilia I’ve been toting from place to place over the years suddenly seem like a good target for downsizing. Of course, one cannot just chuck an entire box without going through it. So two weekends ago, I found myself in the garage, sorting through boxes of things I’ve been moving with me from home to home, intending to go through them “someday.”

In one box, I found a relic that reminded me of a long-ago accomplishment:

Be very impressed! I came in second, 35 years ago!

It’s a big, weighty medal commemorating my having come in second in my (very small) high school class in 1985. I wonder what the grown-ups thought I might do with this tangible evidence of my accomplishment: Hang it from my rear-view mirror in my sweet Buick Skylark? Use it as collateral for student loans? Display it in my college dorm room (at a school where so many students had attained much more impressive achievements)? Save it to hand down to my future children? Pawn it for beer money?

I have no idea. I do remember that the accomplishment did feel pretty darn good at the time – a real confidence-booster! But this proof of my “greatness” ended up in a box just 5 months after I received it, because my mom moved us during my first semester of college, and that was the last I saw it until two weeks ago. Now, what had once seemed Very Big Deal had become a mere footnote in my history, and the physical award left me wondering what I should do with it, or if it even mattered anymore.

Which, naturally, brings me to resumes. Each time you revise your resume, your jobs and accolades from long ago become less significant. Most hiring managers want to see evidence of career progression, so it’s OK to note your dates of employment and position at your first-ever job, but the more years between you and it, the fewer (if any) details you you should include. Some resume writers recommend you leave off the ancient history entirely. So, too, with computer and office skills: You may have been a whiz at stenography and dictation, and I’d love to tell you all about how I learned word processing on a Wang machine (kids, ask your parents), but those skills are now obsolete (*sob*). Hiring managers are going to be far more interested in your most recent 10 -15 years than anything you did during (or before) the Clinton Administration.

As for the medal: A few Facebook friends suggested I repurpose it into a Christmas tree ornament. It weighs 5 whole ounces, so it will have to hang on the inside of the tree, but I rather like that idea. If nothing else, it’ll be good for some laughs as I bore my sons (again) with boring stories of my glory days.

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