Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Shidduchim XII - A Shadchan's Customer's Wish List - Part 5: Resumes 102 – Summary of my [Dis]Content


Author's note - This post is a continuation of the previous post about shidduch resumes (click HERE to view). The "ground rules" that were stated at the beginning of the earlier post apply here as well.

Hello, loyal readers. I hope everybody enjoyed the inspiring anti-extradition and mesira series and faithfully sent out those emails. We know that our fearless justice officials are much too busy destroying hilltop outposts and prosecuting trigger-happy soldiers to have time to learn any Yoreh Deah or Choshen Mishpat, so it is a great toelles to send out those Halacha-of-the-Day emails. Keep them coming!

It looks like my blog site is getting a bit of attention for a change. The main post in that series was my all-time top grossing post. My site meter went wild. Beat out The Govoha Indians! But things appear to have settled down and we can now return to our regularly scheduled programming. So let’s talk about shidduch resumes.

My previous resume post covered the formatting side of the issue. It is time to discuss content - or what I call “dis-content”. For this post, I have a reference file full of resumes. I keep folders in my Documents library for all my children. When I receive a resume for my Yossi (almost always via email), I store it in his folder. I also have some resumes for my other son and some resumes of female relatives and friends that we are looking out for. All told, my input comes from a dataset of about 40-50 resumes. We will refer to the common things about these resumes and the unique things as we go along.

One important note – For now, we are discussing mainstream “Yeshivishe” people who are coming from an intact 2-parent family with no unusual complications, where the family is a long-standing part of their community and where the girl primarily lives at home. No surprises. I hope to eventually include suggestions for people with “special” circumstances (divorce, orphan, adopted, girl not living at home, migrating family, etc.) at a later point. Certainly, not in this post.

For this post, it may help to have a sample “preferred” resume for reference and I just happen to have one handy (the same one I displayed in the last post). You can see it HERE.

I have written that I am a proponent of putting a lot of information on a shidduch resume, which I do. A few people have asked me why I put so much info on the resume. Let me state my standard answer loud and clear: The information that I put on a resume is exactly what I would like to see on a resume that is presented to me. The message here is that you are writing a resume for somebody else to look at and evaluate. It helps to make it user-friendly. As I wrote previously, it sends the message that you are serious about getting “the nod” (to be asked out) and, ultimately, you are serious about getting hitched.

On a per-detail basis, there is almost nothing on my sample resume (besides hair color) that I haven’t occasionally found on other resumes. So it’s certainly not an anomaly to include these types of details. My argument is that it would be nice if these things were standard on all shidduch resumes.

One not-so-important note – In view of all the above, it emerges that the subject matter for this is so extensive that, once again, it is too much for a single post. This post will only cover the banner and the basics.  

Before we analyze the content, there is one other thing that I must strongly emphasize which is probably the most important point of this series of posts:

People (i.e., naïve girls) mistakenly think that the shadchan is the real salesman of the product and that the resume is only a “Trailer” to give a preliminary glimpse of the girl and that the shadchan will fill in all the blanks. Well, as the father of a boy, let me state that probably 50% if not more of the resumes come second or third hand from both close and casual acquaintances (of ours) that may not even know the girl at all! We get resumes that are simply “Check out this girl and if you are interested, we will find some mutual acquaintance (read: Facebook “Friend”) to be the go-between.” Do not think that just because you gave your resume to your “agent” – your aunt or cousin or some shadchan that gave you a full hour interview - that the aunt, cousin, or shadchan is always the one who delivers the resume to the boy and will sing your praises.

If your resume is not presented by your agent, it must speak for itself. If the resume is not detailed enough or powerful enough to draw interest, you may be passing up scores of “chance meetings” with numerous potential husbands.

Let’s look at the resume from the top down.


Header - בס"ד / BS”D

The header is the upper margin of the page. There are two wonderful things about headers: (1) a header does not eat up any space from your main page. (2) What you put in a standard header appears on every page in a multi-page document. So a header is a great opportunity to make a statement at no cost of page space and you get it on all the pages.

This is where a nice frum Jew usually writes: בס"ד or BS”D. Or so one would think. This little notation is very powerful since it displays a bit of yiras shmayim and humility. It tells me that the writer acknowledges that a Higher Power is really the One running the show. This is a very healthy attitude both with regard to dating and regard to marriage itself. It is also a miniature tefillah. So, one cannot go wrong by inserting it.

I am totally amazed and appalled that out of 40 plus resumes in my database, only eight girls inserted any בס"ד. Four of these were resumes of Israeli based girls from before Yossi’s American escapades. Of the other four, two were Monsey girls of a more “heimishe” background. Another was from Baltimore and is now married.

Not a single girl from Lakewood had בס"ד on her resume!

Shocking!

While we are up in the header, you may have noticed that I put my daughter’s full name in Hebrew. Why did I do this?

There are a number of reasons. The simple ones are, firstly, that it is an eye-catcher. To have ink splattered on unusual parts of the page makes the resume stand out from the competition. I wrote about this at length in my previous post about formatting. As long as this does not become a standard, not only will your resume stand out in a pile, but even without looking at the resume or rechecking the name, the boy/mother/shadchan will very likely immediately identify whose resume it is. The brain will just simply announce: “Oh, that’s that Shiffy Hirshman girl’s resume”.

Secondly, since the header shows on every page and I am an advocate of two-page resumes, the name on top will help identify the second page if the pages get separated.

Aside from these two reasons, there is a mystical power to seeing somebody’s full name in Hebrew. This idea was actually inspired by one girl (only) who’s name is Devorah who put her full matronymic in Hebrew underneath her name in the banner: דבורה נחמה בת שיינע דינה  (Incidentally, this girl is one of the Israeli based בס"ד  girls and is one of only two that had a two page resume. It is the most useful resume that I have seen by far.) Hebrew, in and of itself, gives a frum reader a more “Jewish” feeling and seeing a person’s full name makes some kind of a spiritual connection that brings about some level of intimacy. It is for this reason that many chareidi dating coaches say that while dating, a ben Torah should avoid calling the girl by her given name more than is necessary; so as not to invite this “intimacy” prematurely. (Some Chassidic sects maintain this standard even after marriage!) I hope to elaborate on this when I discuss names – very shortly.

A personal reason for the name in Hebrew on top is because we live in E”Y. For now, all of our resumes are written in English. Even so, since they are likely to come to the attention of people who don’t really read English, at the very least her name should be displayed in Hebrew. This obviously does not apply in the US.


Banner

The banner is the first thing that you see at the top of the page. Invariably, it is the name of the person being described in the resume and it appears in big bold letters. Usually other bits of basic information are lined up under the banner in lighter print. This may include location (address), contact information, age (DOB) and height. It doesn’t really matter how this information is laid out as long as all the necessary information is located somewhere in the beginning of the resume.

In my resume the only information I include in the banner after the name is her address and personal cell number.  This is followed by contact information for her “handler” (i.e. mother) and the “vital statistics” come after that.

The key is that all of these elements are vitally essential. It is fascinating how much of this stuff is missing from so many resumes and I am not sure that the girls realize how much damage it does to them. We will discuss all of these things one by one.


Name

You are probably thinking that this is going to be one of the briefest topics in this discussion. If there is one thing that all resumes prominently display, it is the name of the person.  Why don’t we just move on to the next topic? What is there to discuss about a name?

More than you realize. Many of the flawed resumes that I constantly complain about get their failing grade right there – at the name.

So not too long ago, we received a resume titled by the name Mimi Klein (only the last name is changed).

“Mimi”? Is that your name?

Well, it’s probably a safe guess that her real name is “Miriam”. But I don’t like to guess. I want to be informed. “Rivky” and “Shiffy” are also safe guesses. But I still don’t like to guess. Now, how about “Shevi”?  is that Batsheva? Elisheva? Just Sheva? Even for boys, “Avi” may be Avshalom, Avigdor, or Avichai. And “Eli”? Anyone’s guess! Even “Mimi” could still be a different name. Suppose her real name is Meira Mindel and the parents just wanted to call her Mimi because of the double-M alliteration.

Once I see “Mimi”, I know that I am not getting her full name. So I think: Are there other names? What are they? Why don’t I deserve to know? She is concealing her true name – even if it’s an easy guess. What else is she concealing?

If you have a pet name or a nickname, I like to know that, too. But this should be in parentheses. The name at the top of the resume should be a real given name. Ideally it should be your full given name. As many names as you have.

[Note that in my sample resume, I did not put Shiffy’s full name in the banner. This is because, in my layout, I restate her name a bit later in a block of information called Basics. I only wrote her full name at that point because that block of information is more formal. Besides, in my case, I already have the full name printed in the header.]

A full name is important for numerous reasons. The simple one indicated above is that it is just plain “derech eretz” to present your full name. Aside from that, there may be practical and/or mystical reasons, primarily hakpados.
There are religious circles that avoid shidduchim where the name of the girl is the same as the name of the boy’s mother and likewise, where the name of the boy is the same as the name of the girl’s father. There are all types. Many people are not makpid at all, others are only makpid for the mother/daughter-in-law scenario. And others for both male and female sides. Some are only makpid if the first names match, some only if it’s an identical match but some go the distance and are makpid if any name of the boy or girl matches any name of the corresponding parent on the other side.

In our experience, some of the most promising sounding shidduchim for my Yossie were nixed (from the girl’s father) because only the first name matched, and in one case where his first name was the father’s second name it was also nixed. This is after we invested time doing some research into the shidduch. The message is that hakpados of names is not a rare issue by any means and some people take it to the extreme. Hence, it is important for full names to appear on a resume so that if the name happens to be “blacklisted” because of hakpados, the shidduch can be promptly, quietly, and painlessly ruled out.
So let's suppose that Mimi Klein is really Meira Mindel. And the boy's mother's name is also Meira or Mindel. His family may only first discover his "intended's" real name when they are writing the Kesuba (not an uncommon occurrence). All this time they all thought her name was Miriam. This would not be a good time for such a revelation and it could lead to more severe "name-calling".

There are additional mystical reasons why it is important to put your full given name on a resume. One is simply that certain names may be common in somebody’s family and have a special sentimental value that may encourage the boy to favor this shidduch (“Whoa- Her name is Shayna Breina? That was my great-grandmother’s name…”). In other words, your true name may have special significance to somebody and he may be drawn to your resume. Of course, this may also be the name of a sister or cousin that he can't tolerate, so you don't always win.

Another mystical concept is in line with the chazal that 40 days before a man is formed, his zivug is announced in Heaven. Every person has a “mazal” (malach) that looks after him and that “mazal” will recognize the name if “he” sees it. If you do not have your real full name on the resume, the “mazal” may not recognize it and might pass it up.

And, finally, believe it or not, a heartziga person who gets a hold of your resume, be it some shadchan[ista] or even the boy’s mother, may actually want to daven for you or put your name on some shidduch tefillah or Amuka list. If your true name is not on the resume (likewise for your mother’s) you are passing up a golden opportunity. For this reason, I was inspired by the girl who put her full matronymic on her resume (דבורה נחמה בת שיינע דינה  ) and I personally think it wouldn’t hurt if everybody did that.

All told, if the name is not properly presented it is a heavy strike against the shidduch. Quite obviously, shidduchim are not passed up for just one strike but a strike certainly doesn’t help.
Mimi Klein did not get a date.


Address

I recommend that right under the name in the banner should be the girl’s home address. It should be the address of her family even if for some practical reason, she is not living at home. Remember, we are talking now about simple cases where the family is established in their community and the girl lives at home. It should be the complete street address and city and state or province (or country if applicable). If for some strange reason you feel there is some security issue to disclosing your full street address, follow your feelings, but it will come at a price.

The purpose of the address is obvious. The next thing that I (and I expect most people) want to know about a girl is: Where is she from? What place and what community?

Also: Where is she located? Is she a close easy inexpensive date or will one of us have to do some traveling and time juggling and pay the price?

Also: Where can I find out more about her – without necessarily relying on the references that she provides?

In a simple case where the girl lives at home, all of these issues are “addressed” in the “address”. The city and state (province) are clearly important for the first two aspects - everything that has to do with that location: What community is she from? What are the pluses and minuses and typical features – i.e., the mentality - of the people who live there? Is it a predominately yeshivishe, chareidi, chassidish, more modern or mixed community? Is it an affluent community or a lower income (or mixed) community? If this shidduch works where will the wedding be? Where will I have to go for yomim tovim and simchas? Will I need to deal with different time zones? What is my feeling on the possibility of living there myself? Is this a place that she would be willing to relocate from?

Of course, for specific answers you will need to deal with the shadchan, but this gives you a heads up about what things to find out and what new challenges you may have to put up with. Also, don’t forget that the resume may not be coming from somebody who knows all the answers (as noted above).

As far as the street address, this is important especially in big communities like greater NY, Monsey or Lakewood or in towns with multiple Jewish communities - Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, etc. – to pinpoint the location. We all have personal acquaintances all over the map and if I know where in Baltimore or where in Cleveland do they live, I can surmise if Cousin Debbie or my business friend Alan might know them. Also, if you have a common Jewish name and your father is Dovid Friedman or Moshe Cohen, you don’t want an inquiring family to be given information about the other Friedmans (whose father’s name is really Dov Ber) or the other Cohens (whose father’s name is really also Moshe). With a precise address, they can confirm that they are talking about the Friedmans from 3456 Maple or the Cohens from 1432 E. 16th.

Now this all seems so elementary, doesn’t it? This is why I am so flabbergasted that I have to put up with resumes that don’t give me a clue! Well, okay, in one case I got a clue.

This was one of the earlier resumes that we received. We got it by email with no foreshpiel from the shadchan (who we did not know anyway). The banner had the name of the girl “Sara Blimkus” (changed) and after that there was no address, no city or state or anything. But… there was a phone number (we will discuss phone numbers next) which began with “314”. I quickly put on my “Sherlock” cap and googled “314 area code” and got St. Louis (thank G-d for Google). Of course a bit further in the resume it did state:

EDUCATION

·         University of Missouri-St. Louis—Currently enrolled

Ah-ha! Armed with these two clues, I was able to surmise that this maidel is most likely from St. Louis! Further investigation confirmed my suspicions. St. Louis it is. Of course, I prided myself on my cunning sleuthfulness but I was exceedingly annoyed. Why should I need to figure out that this girl is from St. Louis? Why on earth can she not write on the resume in 11 point type that she is from St. Louis??

Big strike!

Luckily, I have a first cousin in St. Louis who I am always happy to contact. (They were not on the reference list of the resume.) Turned out the report we got was very positive and the girl was ready to fly in to Lakewood on her own dime.

This one went three dates.

Still, maidels, my advice is not to depend on whether the boy might just happen to have a cousin in St. Louis – put your city and address on the resume!


Phone Number

Yes, you must have at least one phone number on the resume.

As I noted before and in previous posts – you never know how the resume will reach the boy. If there is no phone number or contact information at all, and the resume did not come from your “agent”, how do you expect a casual go-between to contact you?

I suppose it could be done with a bit of perseverance, but I wouldn’t bank on too much perseverance in today’s world.

In my resumes, I put two contact phone numbers. The one in the banner is the personal cell phone of the subject of the resume, Shiffy. After that, I put a new section called Home Contact with the home phone number and, for good measure, the email of the mother who fields all the shidduch suggestions.

I am just amazed at how many resumes supply no contact information whatsoever (between 20-30%). Even some that have addresses. (This includes the 2-page Israel based Devorah Nechama girl.) Of those that do, some give multiple numbers without noting which is home, or cell, or their mother’s.

Of all the resumes that we received, only one provided anybody’s email address.


[Home] Contact Information

In my resumes I made this into a separate section. In general, if the girl lives at home it is sufficient just to put the home phone number in the banner, especially if the girl or her mother does not use their own cell phone. Most resumes do indeed have this. But it always helps to have additional numbers and, if you work long distance like we do, at least one email address. Just be certain to mark on the resume exactly who is on the receiving end of a specific phone number or email address.


Basics

Almost every resume includes the age of the girl and her height somewhere at the beginning along with contact information. The question is what to put straight up together with her name in the banner and what to put further down. Basically, it is all just a matter of taste. Many people like to put age and height in alongside her name and contact info later. Others do the opposite. They want the contact information to accompany the name.

Some people do all of it and this makes the banner look overloaded. And then some people (the ones I get annoyed with) solve this by totally leaving out something – usually the address or contact info.

What I do is sort of like making two banners. The top one has the name with the address and phone number and a second one called Basics where I repeat the name and then put the age and height and other physical attributes. I styled the secondary banner after a standard ID document such as a passport or driver’s license. So I listed the information the same way it would appear in such a document. This is why I use an official full name in this section. I also threw in eye color and hair color to emulate an ID doc but it is more or less just for kicks.

Let’s go over the pieces.


Name

As I discussed, here is where to put the full name and if you really want to put in a matronymic, go ahead.


DOB (Date of  Birth - Age)

It goes without saying that after learning the girl’s name and where she comes from, the next thing that anybody wants to know is: how old is she? And, of course, 99% of resumes display the girl’s age. Of these, most do it the right way by listing the Date of Birth (DOB). As long as it is truthful, it is foolproof and impervious to how long ago the resume was written.

A few people write their age (e.g., 22 Yrs) on the resume instead of the DOB. Never do this. This is a tremendous red flag. The first thing that an astute bocher/shadchan/mother is going to think is that this resume is probably at least three years out of date, regardless of whether it is or not. Moreover, if they check into it and discover that the age is indeed inaccurate, even if your birthday was last week and you truthfully wrote the information six months ago (and the shadchan held this resume since then), you have just sent a message that you are trying to pull one over them. Also, a message that you are a bit desperate. These are not qualities that a typical yeshiva bocher (or anybody) wants to see in a wife.

We understand that a girl’s age can work against her but I think it is much better to be open and honest and have a bit of bitachon than to even make it look like you are trying to fudge the facts.

Now, I have seen some resumes where the girl does both. She presents her DOB and in parentheses writes: (22 Yrs) – or the opposite. I do not recommend this for two reasons. One reason is that you are insulting the boy’s (or his mother’s) intelligence by suggesting that they cannot do basic math and figure out your age from the birth date. (That much math even chareidi boys learn.) The second reason is that, in case this resume is still circulated after your next birthday and the age that appears is no longer accurate, you are insulting your own intelligence by inadvertently displaying that you cannot do basic math.

My advice is to just stick with the DOB.


Born In

For us olim, this is very important. We want to know a shidduch prospect's cultural background and citizenship. It is important to know how old the person was when they made a life-changing transition to assess what kind of effect this might have on their personality. Hence, it is also important to include when they made Aliyah  - or yeridah, if applicable.

For a domestic US shidduch, this is not as important. Even so, if the girl was born in an area other than where she currently lives, I highly recommend including it. This alerts the prospective suitor that there was some transition made somewhere along the line and they can inquire further if it is something that has any significance or not.


Position

Of my entire dataset of resumes, only three girls were thoughtful enough to list their position in the family order. I appreciated those resumes. Most people do not think that this is necessary. After all, they will later present a list of their siblings and what they are all doing. Usually they are listed in order of age. So, they expect us to be able to count (even if we cannot do basic math) and to figure out where they fit in, especially if they have listed the ages (or YOBs) of their siblings. in short, this information might seem to be redundant. And besides, does it really matter?

To answer the last question first, yes, it does matter. People primarily want to know if every sibling above this one is already married and thus this one is the natural next-in-line, or if there are older unmarried siblings that may be the source of complications. So if we see exactly where this one falls on the list we can check if we are in the clear or not.

Case in point: There was a shidduch of a 20-21 year old girl that somebody was repeatedly trying to interest us in and we refused to look at it. Why? Because she was the second child of the family coming after a 22 year old unmarried sister. I would not allow my Yossie to get involved in what could turn out to be a resentful situation (that can linger for years).

Aside from this, people are also interested if a person is the oldest of a big bunch which tends to produce leadership qualities or bossiness or is she the youngest and may be pampered or spoiled or is she some kind of a middle child. Is she a lone girl in a boy family or a lone boy in a girl family, or part of an unbroken string of “sorority” sisters, or whatever? All of these things give a prospective suitor a glimpse of what their characters will be like and they can evaluate if the expected tendencies are what they want in a wife.

To answer the first question that this is redundant since they will anyway provide a rundown of their siblings further along, this is not so simple. Firstly, as I wrote concerning other details, I do not like to guess or to figure things out. I want to be told. And there are many more people like me. Secondly, if the siblings are not listed by age order and/or the ages are not displayed, the guesswork could get tricky. And, thirdly, there is a possibility that the resume is unclearly written to deliberately mislead the reader in order to hide some of the concerns that were mentioned previously.

So, I believe that everyone should stand up and be counted and to clearly indicate their sibling position on the resume.


Height

Virtually every resume includes the girl’s or boy’s height. I have seen some exceptions. Do not be one.

If your height is missing, it is a sure-fire indicator that your height is off-the-charts low or off-the-charts high. There are short people that do not look so short and tall people that do not look so tall but if you do not put your height on your resume you are clearly announcing: I look as short or tall as the numbers (that I did not disclose) indicate. I am an oddball! It also indicates that you are conscientious about your height.

This is not a positive message.
As is the case regarding age, it is best to be open and honest and have bitachon that your height will work in your favor. For many people, height is not an important factor anyway. Likewise, we all know that some matches are made particularly because somebody needs a shorter girl or wants a taller one. That said, most of us (myself included) are very forgiving if the numbers are fudged by an inch or so in whatever direction.


Hair and Eye Color

I have never seen this on any resume whatsoever. And I fully admitted earlier in this post that I did it on my kids’ resumes primarily “for kicks”. Of course there is no real need to put in a field for hair or eye color. Still, this does not mean that there are no advantages to doing it. I already wrote about this two shidduch posts ago on May 24. To save myself some typing (and to get to bed earlier) I will copy/paste what I wrote there:

In my book, the way you get your resume through the door is by making it look different than anybody else’s. To give an example, in my children’s resumes, I include hair color and eye color. I haven’t seen anybody else do it. Why do I?

One reason is precisely because nobody else does it. It shows that whoever wrote this resume is not just another cow in the herd. This is the one with the brown hair and the green eyes. Also, this is one who is thoughtful enough to provide this information. It makes a psychological impression.

In addition, it actually helps give the reader a bit of a mental image of the physical person (in lieu of photographs which are not encouraged in our circles). And since this image is only imaginary, the incomplete part of the image is usually in line with the how the buyer wants the prospect to look (as opposed to what kind of Frankenstein they really look like). So now your resume presents a partial physical image while the next person’s resume does not. Which one has the upper hand?

I just want to add to this that there are people who are actually fussy that, let’s say, they davka prefer a blonde or perhaps they davka don’t want a blonde. This information may wind up being the tie-breaker between you and somebody else. And it should only work in your favor because if he likes your features, you get the date. If he passes you up just on account of your hair color, would you anyway want to marry such a guy?

So, girls and boys (but mostly girls), this concludes the significance of the basic information on a shidduch resume. But, oh there is so much more! Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter.  

Your dating coach,

Mr. H

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