Beer Me That Job

July 25, 2011

There are just so, so many things that bother me about the job search process.

For instance: why is it that nowadays, if you want to send in a resume to a job that’s located on a site that isn’t Craigslist, often they make you register with a multi-step process for their own stupid site, which then begins to send you more spam than exists in the entire state of Hawaii? News flash: If I’m looking for a job, I need to be checking my email account for serious job inquiries or, like, videos of kittens happily attacking watermelons sent from friends who want me to be less depressed about the dejecting work of job applications. I do not need it bulked up with requests for me to apply to jobs for which I would never apply and so, you know…I didn’t.

“Job available in your field: Prison Barber” Is it? Is it?

Or bulked up with ads directed at me, the job seeker. Alleged head-hunting agencies that—if really scammy—want you to pay to play, or—if merely sleazy, useless, and opportunistic—desire for you to go to their advertisement-marinated web page that no one actually uses to find jobs. Hey, glad that while I can’t find a job, you’re able to make lazy cash off advertisements springing up in my face like so many unwanted joke nut can snakes.

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Job peanuts.

Don’t believe me that they’re not there for you to apply to jobs? Actually attempt to apply to a job on one of those sites some time. More often than not, you can’t submit what you need to, it’s unnecessarily convoluted to the point that you end up just not applying, or you have to sign up for more advertisement abuse in order to submit a resume.

Departed are the days of sending in an application directly to the company via email or in a very simple one- or two-step process. Dead and buried are the days of just going over the building and handing the resume in.

(Yeah, try this some time. Then as you leave, hide and watch the receptionist unenthusiastically use it as a great big wrapper for stale gum.) Just, really. In a vast majority of careers, the physical resume is all but obsolete in the eyes of an employer.

Which is fine. All I wanted to do was to email the damn thing in anyway. But it’s just never that simple.

There are other things I loathe about the job application process, too. For example, feeling like the worst sort of corporate whore, having to sell yourself on your cover letter to please the sadistic evil hiring machine of the non-desperate, already-job-havin’ HR dementors while they muse over your life’s accomplishments in the most trivial of manners and make capricious decisions about the fate of your life.

Or that’s at least what it feels like. I know and love a few hiring managers—family members and friends. That’s really not dementors. …that we know of… But I’m fairly certain that all the hiring managers who’ve gone over my resume and cover letter have been exactly like this. Evil suckers of hope and identity.

But most of all, what I cannot handle about the job search process is the interview. The terrible, horrible, stinking interview.

Very possibly it’s just that I’ve always been as inept with interviews as I have been with auditions or, say, blind dates. I lose all semblance of personality (or even what a human is and how it normally functions) when faced with the daunting task of “BE CHARMING AND SAY ONLY THE RIGHT THINGS.” What the hell? It’s like someone telling you, “Be funny.” Or, “Be interesting.” Or, “Be sexy.”  Uhhhhhh. Ummmmm. Buuuuuuuh. *blink, blink, rub eye, blink*

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“Is this sexy or interesting?”  “No, but it is funny.”

You can’t put someone on the spot like that and expect them to perform well. Least of all me. It’s like I completely lose the ability to comprehend the fundamental makeup of humor or normal speech patterns at that moment and instead sit thinking totally functional and moderately intelligent thoughts with a horrified expression on my face, unable to make them come out of my mouth. It’s amazing—another person’s power to abduct attributes you might otherwise rock when not having to try at them. In these situations, rather than funny, interesting, or sexy, I instead break down into a grotesque amalgamation of the antonyms of all three—a character I think of as Abused Meg.

Abused Meg has had handed to her some of the most ghastly, miserable experiences known to man or woman and is therefore now no longer able to talk with the usual shape or wetness of her former mouth, cannot consider numbers or manifest emotions with certainty, can’t find an appropriate volume at which to express her monosyllabic sentiments, has never seen the sun nor heard loud noises, is constantly on the verge of tears or hiding in her own arm crevice like a sad baby Dracula, and otherwise behaves just as an abused, neglected dog might. At best, she has no personality at all; at worst she’s strange and alienating with the ability to rob anyone else in the room of a sense of normalcy. I am not good at interviews.

And the thing with interviews is, you just can’t ask the freaking questions you want. Mainly—how much will I get paid, and what are my benefits? I don’t get why this is such a taboo. You’re not supposed to ask that until right before you get the job. Why are we all wasting so much time?!

I understand that employers want a person who is right for the job and dedicated to the work. I get that. That makes for a more pleasant work experience for all and a more dedicated worker. But here’s a thought that is applicable for every single person I’ve ever met—unless there’s something truly horrific about my current job, I am leaving my job to look for either comparable pay or a vertical move of some sort, like more pay and better benefits. If money weren’t important with regards to the job, I wouldn’t be working in the first place. I’d spend my time … I don’t know … rowing a fucking boat or painting pictures of me rowing fucking boats. I wouldn’t be sitting in a cubicle taking orders from people. Right? And you—the job dangler—are remarkably stupid in not acknowledging that out in the open and right away.

So why can’t I ask on the first interview—or hell, before I go take off work to waste my time and the potential new employer’s time—what the pay is going to be? Then let’s see if I’m a good fit. Because I tell you what—even if I really love a potential job, I—like most everyone else—do not live in a career utopia fantasy. I have rent and bills to pay. I have to eat. I have a life outside of work I’d like to continue living in a similar fashion or better. I need to find a new job that’s going to pay me what I need to make in order to do all these lovely lifey things. And nearly everything beyond that is a minor deciding factor. The order of importance has to be: 1.) Do I vaguely want to perform this job/am I qualified?  2.)Does it pay what I need/want to make?  3.) Literally anything else that might be a point of interest. It doesn’t matter.

Number 1 is taken care of when I apply. I got the job description, I’m interested so far. Number 2 should be next. Number 2 should always be next. There is no point proceeding if number 2 is a deal-breaker. PEOPLE—NUMBER 2!! Come on.

So, yeah. This is the aspect of our job culture that I think I find most aggravating and wasteful of everyone’s time and energy.  And so does Abused Meg. As she shambles off into the shadows, totally freaking out all who exist there with her wide-eyed weirdness.

**I should note that this is not about a current job search I’m doing. In fact, I’m on the brink of going down to part-time work in a month so I can start full-time grad school (Yaaaaaay!). But being around others who are currently looking for jobs, it brings me right back to that same old rant in my head. Why the senselessness? Why the time-suckage? You know what? Let’s all just quit our jobs and join a commune.

Or go back to grad school.

Haven’t been contributing much lately. I’ve had a headache that’s lasted for weeks, on and off now, and I’ve been curling up in a sleep hole every opportunity I’ve gotten. Who needs a vacation, huh?

I can say this—it doesn’t take too terribly much to make me happy right around this time of year, when Chicago winter is turning to Chicago spring (except maybe this headache kicking it and my brain going back to normal consistency for a brain. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s attempting to leak out my ears when it feels like this. Headache going away would make me deliriously happy. But since every time I get my brain fixed I just go ahead and break it again, this is clearly why we can’t have nice things). But, yes. Doesn’t take much to make me happy in April. It’s the little things, you know?

Yesterday I saw that all the restaurants in the city have put out their little dine-outside patio furniture for the season. It was, to my knowledge, the first day they did this. Seeing this puts me instantly in a better mood. This is like a big, warm brain hug. Maybe with more energy than a hug, though. Like being goosed. A big, warm brain goose.

Well, that just sounds like the freakiest animal ever.

Ahh, the promise and potential of a miserable, sweltering, wonderful summer to come. Happy spring, Chicago! Iiiiiiiii loves ya.

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Miss Near-Miss

March 8, 2010

Here’s one little arcane morsel of wisdom about the universe I seem to have acquired during my short stay here in this life: pretty much anything attempted before 10 AM is going to have a few practice runs before it is accomplished. And this is all the way from the important things, like work tasks, down to the minutia of the morning. It is compulsive. I am unable to skip the practice runs. I will perform any given action a healthy few times before I do it correctly.

I mean, I was in theatre. I know the importance of dress rehearsal. I assume this is what this is cosmically all about, why I am destined—why many of us are destined—to do this. Yeah, that’s right. I’ve overheard you talking. It’s not just me.

For instance, in order to fully prepare to grasp what time it is at any point in the morning, I need to go through a few reps first (I assume to get the motions down perfectly). Okay, the train is coming into the station. Is it on time? I glance down at the time on my phone. Okay… I could really go for a bagel. I walk halfway to the office. Wait, was it on time? Am I going to be on time? What time did the phone say? I look again, nod but store no information to my memory, put the phone away, and ooo—shiny thing! Shiny thiiiing!!! Now I’m about to cross the street to my building. Wait, so was I on time? What time of day is it? Did I fall asleep and it’s afternoon now? No way of possibly knowing. I glance again, satisfied, but not storing the information. …So why do beagles look nothing like Snoopy? Does Woodstock migrate? I get to the elevator. Um, seriously though. What time is it? I peer at my phone again and put it in my pocket, then feel my scalp for evidence of head injuries. I now have gotten five steps away from my desk. Have I arrived here at the same time I always do? I check my phone in the final stretch just before I sit down to my cubicle where I will be surrounded by no less than three things that will all tell me the time, but now the time on my phone finally sticks. 8:52 AM, right there on the front of my cell phone. Yup, normal time.

See, and I have to assume I would never have been able to have gotten the time if I hadn’t done all that rehearsing of the precise hand movements it takes to read my phone clock. Thanks, universe.

The same applies to things like the first step out of bed, which often bears repeating for good measure. Alright, Hofer—stand. *stands up, teeters* Noooope, sit right back down again. Possibly curl back up into former sleep pretzel position in order to have a totally fresh restart. Okay. Now, stand. *stands up, dismount* Nailed it! Thank god I practiced.

Even retrieving my key pass (which electronically grants me access to the doors at work) from my pocket so’s I can buzz myself into my job seems to require daily honing, oddly enough. Like, I get inside the building and reach into my pocket to grab my key pass. I instead pull out my left glove and hold it in my hand all the way to the elevator. Okay, good, Hofer. That is a similar motion to grabbing your key pass. I notice I’m holding a glove and put it back in my pocket. Shaking my head, I now reach into my pocket and pull out my bus pass, holding it firmly in my hand. I press the button for my floor and begin my ascent. Okay, closer now. We have part of the word correct—“pass”. Good! Dry run #2 accomplished. Now, put it away. I realize I’m holding my bus pass, sigh heavily, and put it back in my pocket, thinking about the things I have to do when I get to my desk. Meanwhile, I now pull out my car keys and prepare them to open the door to my office on the 18th floor. Hmm. Nope. No. Alright, the other part of the word is now present—“key”. Excellent job, Hofer! You are now prepared to correctly pull out your key pass. It dawns on me as I get to the clear glass doors which guard my office that I’m standing there holding a set of car keys, like an idiot. I plunge them back into my pocket, this time able to pull out my key pass with nary a problem.

See? Practice.

Oy.

Follow closely

1. Yell “JERKOFF!” at top volume to the stopped driver in front of you as you pull into the parking lot, but before—this is key—remembering you had rolled down your window in anticipation of paying the parking lot attendant. And also before you can see that he was waiting for a pedestrian to cross. Extra points if she doesn’t walk so well.

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2. Wait for appalled early morning passersby to get a good look at your face. Extra points if the reason you are parking in this lot is so that you can sit uncomfortably on a train with them for the next hour and twenty minutes into work.

3. Pull into a spot where the car door of the person next to you is still wide open and taking up half your spot. By all means, do not wait for her to close it. It is very early, and you are very tired, and if you miss your train, you have to wait a ghastly ten minutes for the freaking next one. Pull into your (temporarily) half-space awkwardly, inching over into the next parking space to your right. Back up and pull back in again twice, and be certain to catch her eye as she shakes her head, grabs her purse, and closes her car door, leaving you all the room you would need should you have waited a few seconds. Park again.

4. Slip on a solid sheet of ice with your first step out the car door. But don’t just fall down and get back up. Prolong the spectacle for maximum parking lot viewership by grabbing onto the top of your open door as you slip. If at all possible, dangle helplessly from it while your frictionless little feet try in desperation to get a firm step on the ground. Flail, but don’t let go. Try to resemble Harold Lloyd hanging from the clock in Safety Last! as closely as possible. Extra points if you continue this for a good 10 seconds, until you finally fall on your anticipatory ass.

5. Get back up, and walk with dignity toward your train. The dignity is especially imperative, or you won’t look like such a complete fool when hitting another sheet of ice on a slight decline toward the street. Flail your arms, ice skate down (sans blades) gradually—slumped over at a varying 90° – 120° angles—and without grace or the ability to control your expletives.

6. Triumphantly make it to coarse ground again without falling down whatsoever this time. Straighten up, but make sure to do it quickly. Doing it slowly will signal to you far too soon that your back is in spasm.

7. Bellow in glorious pain, “Oh godinheavenjesuschristjesuschristnononono,” and drop your purse.

8. Bend down to pick it up, and lose the ability to turn your neck or otherwise make motions with your head.

9. Shrug in order to stop the rousing jolts of pain slicing ribbons into your consciousness. Now, hold that position.

10. Go sit on your train with everyone who’s been witness to your elegant ballet. Extra points if you limp the rest of the way to the train like a deranged hunchback.

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