Done for Good or Resume?

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When can you do good things for completely wrong reasons? Well, I suppose there are many answers to that question. The reason I to be discussed here is doing the right thing because of your resume.

There are many organizations that do great things – the Humane Society and Boy’s & Girl’s Club come to mind – that many people may be participating in for all the wrong reasons. That very wrong reason is to build a resume. I get questions from younger co-workers like “Hey, do you think working for the Boy’s & Girl’s Club would look good on a resume?” I want to address these questions.

What I always ask when I get these questions is simple. “Do you like working with kids/animals/the elderly/etc.?”

I typically get a blank stare. They aren’t even thinking about why they would join an organization that does great things for people, only what that organization will do for their paycheck down the road. So with just a slight pause I tend to finish the sentence with a less kind line that sounds a lot like “they would be better off without you.” because it is the simple truth. If you want to build a resume on the back of a less fortunate group they will be better served by you forgetting the idea.

You might think that is a negative attitude on my part. Indeed the reaction I usually get is: but I/they would still be helping!

I would like to remind you that tapeworms are a great help for losing weight. The problem is the results are not healthy. And the same goes for helping kids for a resume. They will get attention and maybe some laughs, but the fact is that they are being helped by someone who doesn’t like kids. The difference in quality of care and energy is obvious.

The other side of the coin are people who are looking for organization to do good with. Their questions are almost as stereotyped, but in the opposite direction. They ask, “Do you know of a good organization that works with kids?”

When the question gets spoken, that person is thinking about kids, not about the royal Me. It also gets a much different response from me, I open an internet browser and start looking for groups they could join, asking follow up questions that are always met with answers, and knowing that when it does show up on a resume later it will be record of service and virtue rather than a record of greed and vice.


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