Signal Flag Resume

Guides, Lifestyle

About a year into my husband’s military contract, his command hosted a Tiger Cruise to which families and even close friends were invited. Drew showed me around the ship, most of which I’d seen before, but at one point, we went up to where the signal flags are run up.

Signal flags, if you’re unaware, are ships’ way of communicating across multiple barriers, be they bodies of water, or even language barriers. We’ve all heard the term “run up the white flag” which is associated with “surrender” or “peace”. These flags are also a lot like resumes.

Imagination 1: A sailor walks up to the flags, unfolds one, holding it in both hands staring into it’s colors. His commanding officer arrives on the scene to ask what he’s doing. “I’m just reading this flag like a book,” the sailor says… Of course, we should think this odd, but so is the idea of any hiring manager actually reading your resume word-for-word (unless your resume is a novel in his favorite genre).

Imagination 2: A job seeker goes online to create a resume. They’re walked through a series of questions after which the website generates a page with their name and contact information, followed by a grid pattern of colorful symbols and bars which resemble our Navy’s signal flags. Only here, they would represent career fields and specialties or skills within each. You “run up” this “flag” on your Linked In. Suddenly, the resume is no longer a read thing, but eye-candy.

This is resumes in reality, though. Yes, every resume requires certain elements. But what they’re really looking for is their own eye-candy — and that changes per hiring manager. If you’re like me, you balk at the very idea of writing a new resume. But what if you somehow got ahead of your own game and the resume wrote itself (like the generator on the fictitious website in Imagination 2 — I know, I wanted it to be real, too)?

I recently gave myself a leg up in the realm of resume writing. My resume had been the boss far too long — anyone whose ever reviewed it bled on it (red ink), tears were shed (mine) and then I’d have to sit down and write an entirely new resume using the same information as before. After reading What Color is Your Parachute? 2015, though, I decided it was time for a new boss –ME.

In his book Do Over, Jon Acuff encourages readers to utilize index cards. I found a pack of 100 3×5’s at Wal*Mart for $.48 if you need them. I also found they were useful in some of the exercises from Parachute. So, once all was done, I had a flower diagram listing up to 10 of my skills, knowledges, interests and preferences on each petal, 7 story cards and… a lot of blank cards because I bought more as the stack began dwindling. I sat down with my old resumes and my spouse. Ghosting through the history of jobs past, I detailed everything I’d done for work and together we came up with new ways to phrase it. I made an index card for every job, even my volunteer work.

As I write future resumes, these will act as my resume ‘cheat sheets’. I may not always word them the same (though I can) and I don’t have to put every job on every resume. I have options as to the information and formatting I put into my resume. That makes it more relaxing for me.

If you’ve ever struggled with resume writing, I’d love to hear what worked and what didn’t for you. Tweet me.

Additional Resume Helps:

Chasing Worth


Recently, a Facebook post asked how those within the group came to live minimalist lifestyles — whether many of us pursue it in the wake of personal tragedy. This is an easy presumption considering the idea society has painted of what depression looks like. I however, posit the root of simplicity to be a question of material worth. What value does every item I bring into my life truly have for me?

It was 2011; my husband was deployed in the Mediterranean. We were young, a bit impressionable, and we saw other couples and how they lived. Up to that point, it had never occurred to us that things such as a sofa weren’t ‘needs’. We simply accepted that this is how we live in America. We marry, buy homes or rent apartments and fill them with furniture and whatever else we’re impressed by; teaching financial realities is a challenge our current society hasn’t fully met.

Ironically, our clutter (or perhaps multiple gallons of McDonald’s sweet tea) tipped me over the edge. As is typical, I tried to fix clutter with clutter. I found myself at Wal*Mart at 0200 (2am for civilians) wheeling my cart up and down the home goods aisles searching for just the right bathroom shelving and TV stand. To be clear, early morning Wal*Mart trips are the norm for some families in the Norfolk area… it’s an escape from the payday Commissary mayhem and an attempt to avoid the lengthy checkout lanes at Wal*Mart. 2 registers open, 15 employees milling about, never quite mustering the moxie to flash mob us.

2012 was a year of heartbreak and trial for us. We moved into a new apartment just as 4 people in our families were hospitalized repeatedly or for surgeries. Then my grandma passed away. Two days following her passing, we were evicted. There was a mistake in the pay system on DFAS’s end and we never received our housing allowance, so we couldn’t pay our rent. At the end of 2012, Drew was discharged a month following his re-enlistment. He was wrongfully accused of having stolen another sailor’s uniform. Since then, we’ve been in survival mode, stuck in a cycle of circumstances we aren’t always in control of. We’ve been married nearly 8 years, half of which have been spent jobless and homeless.

Summer of 2012, a friend introduced me to minimalism. I had driven over 9 hours in an overloaded truck and now all that crap was suffocating me. I was ready to be rid of it all, as I breathlessly explained to my baffled spouse over the phone that evening. “…MINIMALISM…bla bla yada… So, y’know I somehow ended up with most of your civilian clothes here? Well, I was thinking that you hardly ever get to wear them anyway and maybe if you could just tell me which ones you like best I can burn the rest with Daddy’s trash…” [Note: Minimalism doesn’t quite work that way and I don’t recommend this method to anyone.]

We’ve seen the best and worst of materialism. But in times when we were homeless, we were able to make the best of our circumstances because of minimalism. It didn’t “save” us — I mean, I wish I could boast the hundreds of dollars we saved in the last few years because “we were living minimally”. But that’s just not the case. This lifestyle has given us permission and freedom to let go of things we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Have I chosen minimalism in the face of tragic circumstances? Yes. But I was already there. I was already fighting my way out of my ‘clutter forest’. I was already asking the question — and maybe you’ve found yourself there, too. So I’ll ask it again:

What is worth?