Monday, May 2, 2011

A Word on Resumes

It has become popular to use the word resume when referring to those ubiquitous questionnaires that people in shidduchim fill out, giving their personal information to be used in shidduch making. Personally I never use the word when asking about shidduch information, nor do I particularly like its use by others.

Since the 1940s the word resume has been used to indicate a brief biographical summary of a person's career, a brief account of a person's personal, educational and professional qualifications and experience as they apply to a line of work being sought. It can serve as an outline of experience. How ever you choose to define the word, general usage puts it squarely in the job seeking area. This being the case, why oh why are we using it in reference to shidduchim?!

I have yet, ever, to hear someone refer to being married as being employed, as having entered into the job market. Surely those seeking spouses are not looking at their dates as possible employers/employees?!

The use of the word resume certainly fits in with the idea prevalent today that making shidduchim is big business. It's approached as if it were just another project on the work schedule, to be handled in a business-like fashion. What's going to be next? When a couple goes out on a date and one of them decides that the other party isn't a good fit for them, are we going to report that by saying "He/she doesn't have the qualifications for the job?" Or perhaps "He/she is not the type of employee that would fit in to my business environment"?

When we use the language and methodology of business and apply them to shidduchim we also should not be surprised by the high rate of employee dissatisfaction, lay-offs and employee terminations that we are seeing (that's divorce if you are wondering). In concert with the outside actual business world we are not seeing "job" growth at a high level.

I believe it's more than time to get rid of the word "resume" when talking about shidduchim, and all the other business-related terms as well. If we truly have to borrow terms from elsewhere, perhaps the arts would provide more appropriate terminology. I could live with someone's asking to see the score for someone else's Unfinished Symphony, or perhaps the Prelude for that Unfinished Symphony. I could live with someone telling me that the notes on the date were too flat or too sharp or in the wrong key. I could understand if someone said the lyrics didn't seem to match the melody.

Resumes and shidduchim? Time to change the loshon.


Abba's Rantings said...

historically shidduchim/marriage was essentially a business arrangement. (and contrary to popular opinion there is absolutely nothing romantic about the kesubah and i'm not sure why people like to hang it in their dining rooms)

in any case, it's not the loshon of "shidduch resume" that's a problem, but rather the concept.

Yaakov said...

Abba you're right that the kesubah is a very businesslike document and that the whole idea of using a shadchan smells like buying and selling. But for a good few decades the business aspect at least when it came to dating was understated or disappeared.

Most of my generation did not feel like cattle at market when we dated. There were no resumes and no crazy weeks of investigating. We met, we dated, we married and all without the crazy rules in place today. It was mostly the same for my kids but it isn't for my grandkids. We've pushed things beyond normal or needed today. I'm surprised that anyone gets married given the system we think we have to follow.

Miami Al said...

Well, evaluating arranged marriages in business-like terms is the historical norm, not the exception.

The exception was that there was a period of time when American Orthodox Jewry was so small, endangered, and scatter shot that the kids re-wrote the rules and became more American, they adopted the new fangled American Dating.

Choosing to switch back to the business like terms is a mistake, in my opinion, but I find it ironic that you know that this is the community that you are in, raise your children in it, and then wonder why it is what it is.