When does the past stop mattering?

As I was considering my eHarmony driven job perusal (long story, catch up ..).. I noticed that a lot of the jobs I was looking at required
university transcripts which – 20 years after graduation – I found somewhat confounding. Does my ‘Industrial Economics’ grade really matter 20 years after I attained it? How about Manufacturing Engineer Logistics? And how does it relate to my prospective job as ‘Communications Director’? If I only scored a 66 on my Advanced Mathematics exam back in 1990, will this eliminate me from the running as ‘VP of Corporate Communications’ in 2013? Is math even part of the job? (because I’m sure Manufacturing Engineering Logistics isn’t).
I understand that past performance is an indication of future performance,but  how far back is ‘past’ when you have 20+ years to work with? Isn’t that ‘past’ slightly more relevant than what I did in academia?  Back when computers lived in special ‘labs’ and this thing called the internet was a rumor we heard about in ‘Computer Programming 101’. When does the past get to remain in the past?

Which got me thinking about the role of the past outside of job qualifications. If past performance truly is an indicator of future behavior, then surely we’re disallowing for any type of maturity or learning, and therefore, I probably should be spending my evenings downing 6 pints of beer and smoking a packet of 20 Camels. Because that was me 20 years ago. 18 years ago, I was working until 11pm most nights, sleeping with my boss and living on Lean Cuisine.. is this me today? Hardly.
At if you’re looking to the past as the predictor, which past do you choose? Workaholic Rachael – 1994-2001 (average week 80hrs), dating Rachael (average work week 40 hours), or last month (a hearty 50 hrs).

Which says nothing at all about performance.

Back in 1994 I’d be willing to scrub and reformat a spreadsheet all night if that’s what you wanted. Today I’m more likely to roll my eyes and tell you ‘its good’. Back in 1994 I was a terrible consultant – I didn’t listen, I thought I knew the best way to do everything and I had zero business experience outside of washing dishes and prep cooking. Hardly useful in a pharmaceutical company which needed to improve its market research.
These days I am probably a terrible consultant, but for a whole other host of reasons. My brain doesn’t function after 8pm, I have zero tolerance for nit pickers and I really really like sleeping in my bed every night. I’m a great listener and I can problem solve with the best of them, but even the idea of wearing a suit every day gives me hives. 

Which brings me back to the concept of ‘grey’. The past is, was, black and white on a transcript, or a resume or even that dreaded resourcing spreadsheet you spent 3 months building. It is a series of facts. But we experience it, and remember it, all in shades of grey.
Maybe that project was really awesome for my client and really helped them be more efficient, but to me I just remember the 90 min commute drive each way through a snowy Colorado winter and hating every minute. In downsizing that organization, maybe I broke a number of ‘behind the scene’s processes that I never knew existed and really balls things up… but I got a great rating on my performance review. Its all very very grey, and the shade is totally dependent on who’s remembering.

Which is why the concept of references is hysterical, and  someone asking me for my university transcripts makes me bizarrely anger. I did well in university and but its so irrelevant to who I am today, how I might do a job, how I actually do my job… well you might as well ask me to write an essay on ‘who I think I am’.

“We think you’re crazy to make us write this essay telling you who we think we are. are, what do you care? You see us as you want to see us…in the simplest terms and the most convenient
convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.”

And I, apparently, am someone who failed Electrical Engineering 101 in 1990.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s