Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Someday men will walk on Mars, but Aunty Christ will still be a monkey

Hey, I don’t know if you’ve heard this yet, but I guess the job market is really unrealistically competitive right now. Here’s one for the God You Suck Files.


As I may or may not have already pointed out, I’ve been applying for jobs for about a year now, at a rate of maybe one or two resumes a week. Sometimes the jobs I apply to are a little too big for me and my skills; sometimes they’re a bit too small, both in wages and responsibilities. Every once in a while, I happen upon something that’s just right—something I actually want to do, and can do, and have done.


But I haven’t gotten any of them, and at this point, hundreds of rejections later, I feel like I am not so much a person as a flaw. If I talk about this, I’m subjected to my friends’ advice on the various way in which my flaw manifests itself. I am applying for the wrong jobs. I cannot communicate with the people who interview me, or am communicating in a wrong way. I do not look professional, perhaps. Have I considered that my resume is bad? Or perhaps it is rather that my experience is not valuable. Or I don’t sell myself well because I don’t have faith in myself. I probably think too highly of myself. Whatever it is, surely I can see that I am generally not a very good person. And above all, I must believe in myself.


Last week I got an interview with an office I would have loved to work for. It’s a small non-profit that gives free legal advice to crime victims, run by a woman who used to work for the D.A.’s office. In terms of fit, it landed somewhere between Just Right and Too Big—I don’t have experience in some specific areas the job would have covered, but I do have advocate experience, and that would have been a small part of the job, and the rest of it was just general office work, which I’ve done and like well enough. And I thought the interview went well. Or in any case I liked the lady who ran the office, and I was able to answer most of her questions adequately—yes, I’ve done that before; no, we don’t use that application, but I am familiar with this similar platform. That kind of thing.


Upon returning home, I found that she had sent me an email ten minutes after I had left her office. It said:


Ms. Chrit (sic),

Thank you for applying with the Dream Job Firm, and I'm glad I got the opportunity to interview you. We are going to fill the position w/ another applicant. Good luck w/ your job search, and please don't be discouraged: out of approximately 150 applications we received, yours clearly stood out!


Like I said, rejection and I go way back. I understand that I’m not going to get every job. I even understood that I was probably not going to get this job. And yet.


Ms. Employer,

I apologize for contacting you again, especially since you must be very busy with your interviews on top of your ordinary responsibilities. However, I must say that I am very disappointed and wonder if I might encourage you to share with me what your reasons are for not feeling that you would want to work with me; I intuit that you must have had a fairly strong negative reaction, based on the fact that you've cut me from the running before completing the interview process.

Normally I wouldn't bother you with this question. I honestly just wanted very badly to work for you, and felt like I had the background and skills to do a good job for you. I guess I'm a little surprised.

Good luck to you. I enjoyed meeting you.


I was thinking that I would get silence in response. A big nothing. A secret, or a mystery. Instead, the next morning, I received a phone call, from Ms. Employer, saying Oh my god, I did not mean to send that to you.


Looking good, right? No. She continues. She says, I was getting emails ready to go out at the end of the week, but I slipped up and sent yours early. We’ve found the perfect person who can fill the job and—really, she could do my job! I should probably just cancel all the interviews I’ve scheduled. But thank you for coming in. It was great meeting you.


Which, despite giving me something of an answer, which was what I professed to be looking for, made me feel better not at all. And then, a few days later, an email.



Aunty, now is when I'm REALLY contacting the applicants we interviewed. Again, I'm so sorry I screwed yours up. The job market is just really unrealistically competitive now; it's very, very tight. Your application looked great - we only interviewed about 20 of some 150 applicants, and you were one of them - and your interview went really well, also. It's just a hard time to be looking for a job, and someone happened to apply whose bio matched the job description perfectly. I AM glad I got to meet you and talk w/ you!


So I sent (just to be nice):


Employer,


Thank you for contacting me. I really appreciate it. Take care.


Immediately I receive:


I still feel so badly. I'm really sorry.


At this point—argh. Just drop it, lady. I’m really, really, really sorry I asked.


At least it’s not as bad as one interview I had this summer. Rich and I drove to a tiny town about 45 minutes away from our house, to an office where I spent about three minutes telling the attorney that I didn’t mind the drive, it wasn’t really that far to go for a job that I really wanted, that I’m from Chicago, fergadsakes, where I always had at least a two-hour daily commute, and two minutes listening to him say that he liked my resume but didn’t think that I’d want to drive so far, really, and then the interview was over and I never heard from them again.


Now that was weird.


I admit it. I’m kind of hating the job market right now. And my back-up plan of going to law school that so excited me just a few weeks ago? I had a meeting with the head of my paralegal department last week to talk to him about law school, and he seemed dead-set against it. In fact, he seemed dead-set against me, in general. To everything I said, he had two responses:


1. I don’t think that’s the right thing for you to be doing.


2. Now see, that’s your problem!


Me: I’m really interested in water law, and I think it’s going to be a growing area of concern in the near future. Although I like the paralegal program, I think I can be more effective in making public policy as an attorney, so that’s why I’m thinking about law school


Him: I don’t think that’s the right thing for you to be doing. Now, have you done an internship yet with a water law attorney?


Me: No, I was looking into it, but I’m having trouble finding someone local who is interested in taking a student on.


Him: Where have you been looking?


Me: The internet.


Him: Now see, that’s your problem!


Like so. Except with me not being very articulate, since I had only gotten one and a half hours of sleep the night before. Maybe that really was my problem. Anyway, I am supposed to talk with him again next week, but at this point, I worry that he’s actually talked me out of law school, what with his not very good reasoning and total lack of understanding of who I am and what drives me. Which, at this point in my planning process, makes sense. I found this quote from David Byrne the other day, in my wanderings. He’s talking about not wanting to read a bad review from a critic who’s long dogged him, but it rang true to me as well.


While taking criticism on board can be constructive, it can also be detrimental to the creative process if it’s considered while that process is still under way. It undermines one’s enthusiasm and will — which is OK, beneficial even, but only after a tour (for example) is over. This review, by all reports, wasn’t helpful criticism anyway — it seemed to be one of those reviews that comes from some psychological issues the writer has — and therefore even a belated reading is not going to help us refine what we do.


That said, I’m not really sure what to do now. Do I want to go to law school? Is it even possible for me to find a job? I think in times like these it’s best to retreat to lick one’s wounds, and ruminate upon the restorative properties of several bottles of wine.

10 comments:

butterflywings said...

I can sympathise with the job hunting, big time.

I utterly failed to find a job out of university and went back to do a Masters. Law school might be the best option (um, yeah, Internet person I don't know...but...)

If it's any help, I was told that if you're invited to interview, you could do the job. It's not necessarily a comforting lie that you did well to get an interview. But I know it's little comfort and advice is no help.

Sympathies, and hell yeah wine always helps!

Harriet said...

I always get frustrated when I hear people tell me little stories about how when they got their job, everything just came together perfectly, and you have to wait for this to happen or that to happen because God closes a door and opens a window and JESUS CHRIST just leave me to my booze-sobs, will you? I WAS DOING OKAY WITH MY BOOZE-SOBS.

The job I REALLY REALLY wanted but didn't get, I found out I didn't get that job because I checked the Facebook page for the company. They never contacted me. The woman who did get the job (who I'm sure was very qualified, but you cannot blame me for a little bitterness) had made a post about, "Just goes to show you that positive thoughts really work!" And I was like, goddammit, I was a positive thought FOUNTAIN, you just shut your positive fucking mouth.

I've heard other people tell me that they got their jobs when they were at their lowest point. So I would just sit and wait, and think, "I'm pretty depressed now, universe, I think this would be an okay time for me to have a job." And I'd wait, and I'd get no job, and have to conclude, "I must not be depressed enough, but that's okay; I can do better."

Anyway, what I am saying is, sorry. It is such a mindfucking morale-suck, all the more so because there is almost nothing you actually can realistically do to increase your chances, because every boss is radically, weirdly different. It is like playing 20 questions with somebody who refuses to answer with anything except vague facial expressions. And you aren't allowed to actually ask questions, but have to write essays instead. AND you have to do so while wearing hosiery, and feeling deeply depressed.

Aunty Christ said...

Well, thank you, both of you. I am totally just wallowing in my dark pool of self-pity and non-wheat-based alcohol, but it's good to know that others have been there too.

I don't know why, but I crack up every time I see: "you just shut your positive fucking mouth." Yes!

Anyway, big thanks.

Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

At the risk of sounding like that interviewer, I'm sorry to hear about the bad news. However, how did the interviewer get that job not knowing how to spell Christ. Jesus!

Aunty Christ said...

Junk Thief: I know, right? I considered emailing her back and pointing out that with me in the office, I'd proof and fact check each email before it went out, preventing her from ever looking such a fool again. Then again, she probably didn't care much what I thought about her.

Snooze said...

Ah, I've been on both sides of the interview table and sometimes when having to choose a candidate I've had five stellar applicants, and at other times I've had nothing but the most unsuitable people apply. Maybe the selected applicant will move onto something else and they'll call you back (that's what happened to me with my current job - I was not the chosen one at first), but it's all so demoralizing at times.

Go to law school if your heart is really in it. don't let anyone else's doubts get in your way

Salty Miss Jill said...

Law school seems to be calling your name.
Job hunting sucks holy fucking balls. I'm sorry this is what you're going through. I myself resorted to shameless begging, erm- networking-just asking people if they knew of anyone who would give me a job. It seemed to work. People know how hard it is to land a job, and can be surprisingly forthcoming and helpful.
I wish there was something I could do to help...use me as a reference?

Aunty Christ said...

Thanks, Snooze and Salty. I think my goal now is to kind of forget about the job hunt for a while and try potentially less-demoralizing pursuits to keep my mind off of it. I did get some responses to my volunteer queries, so at least I know that, if I can't get people to pay me for working for them, at least they're not turning down my requests to work for free.

That's something.

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