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Archive for February, 2009

O.K., job hunting is much harder than working. Not to mention how frustrating it is, and usually, needlessly so. That said, while fully aware of how prickly my financial need and fear is making me, at the end of the day as I sit calmly with an iced decaf, waiting for a mind-numbing TV show to come on, considering the day in retrospect… even from that vantage point I can’t get over how thoughtless/stupid/inconsiderate/annoying potential employers application procedures really are. It’s almost like a test: If you can tolerate this, you can work for us. Which begs the question: Do I really want to work for them?

I think this morning’s exercise in futility may…so far… take the cake:

Employer A needs a secretary.

I can be a secretary.

Blindfolded.

With one hand.

And half my brain. (Yes that sounds condescending but it is true; I’ve been a secretary and I’ve had secretaries. No big deal.)

 The ad offers three options: Fax your resume, email your resume, or apply in person.

Apply in person is a lot more work but should, theoretically, pay off, right? I mean, it shows initiative, seriousness of purpose, way more effort than pressing a send button… Yes, I’ll apply in person.

First consideration: Is it worth it to take off from my part time job to apply for this job? Yup.

That decided, on to the next hurdle: Is this interview makeup worthy? Now don’t laugh; when you’re trying to get by on almost zero income, things like mascara are on the “Indulgence” list and used sparingly. Remember the Seinfeld episode where the ever-promiscuous-Elaine had to slow it down and decide which of her dates were or were not “sponge-worthy?” Same principle: When I apply for a position that doesn’t require public contact or a polished appearance, I go for clean and neat minus the makeup, conserving it for when it’s actually needed. When looks count, make up is applied. I grudgingly decide that because I don’t know for sure in this case, I will assume that this interview is Makeup Worthy and make the supreme sacrifice of some of my strictly rationed makeup.

Next up: The resume. Like most job hunters I have followed the advice of the online employment advisors and written multiple versions of my resume, all honest, but each emphasizing whatever area of my experience best fits the job opening. This is a position I haven’t applied for in the past so I need to retool my resume to fit. I spend several hours doing this before attempting to print it out. No ink in the printer, no money to buy any. Hmmmm…

I call my daughter; she will print out a few copies of this version of my resume and drop them off on her way to work. Perfect, I email the new version to her and breathe a sigh of relief… until she comes by with the copies the next morning and something hasn’t gone through the email to her correctly. Some coding has been lost in translation and it doesn’t look as professional as it should. We decide I’ll email it to her office, she’ll print it out there and I’ll swing by and pick it up “on my way.” Though it isn’t on my way. More on that later.

That covered I go to the clean clothes I laundered at my sister’s place last night. (Yup, broken wash machine here. When it rains…) I choose the most appropriate outfit and make sure there are no cat hairs or wrinkles to make me look sloppy. Everything there is good.

I dress and find the perfect accessories, call my daughter to make sure the resume came through OK this time, and head out on my big adventure, stopping to put my last two dollars in the gas tank. The indicator needle is just above empty. Enough to get there and … hopefully … back home.

I head out in the opposite direction of my target so I can pick up the resume, then with that in hand I reverse directions and head for The Potential Job site. My heart is skipping around a little but it’s not so much nerves as hope. “Please please please,” I pray to the employment gods, “let me get this job and let it start in time to stop the foreclosure on my home!”

Once there I circle the huge building twice (with one eye on the gas gauge) trying to figure out which entrance is the correct one. Nothing is marked as to where the various departments are so I park and walk through the wind with my hair blowing around maddeningly. The entry area isn’t set up in such a way that I can stop and brush my hair so I decide that, once inside, I’ll go to the washroom and fix it. Except when I get inside I see a sign saying not to go any further without registering with the receptionist, signing in, and getting a name tag.

I approach the horseshoe-shape desk and wait for what was probably only a few minutes but felt like a maddeningly long time behind an elderly woman who is s-l-o-w-l-y e-n-t-e-r-i-n-g h-e-r n-a-m-e in the registry book and s-l-o-w-l-y w-r-i-t-i-n-g h-e-r n-a-m-e on the paper name tag and s-l-o-w-l-y attempting to peel the tag off the sticky backing.  She glances over her shoulder at me and says, “Oh… you’re waiting…”

I smile sweetly and lie, “That’s O.K., no hurry, take your time.”

Which she does.

Finally I face the Efficient Looking Woman (ELW) behind the desk and smile, “Hi! Could you please point me toward your H.R. Department?”

She asks who I want to see and I tell her the name of the person listed in the ad. She looks puzzled and asks what it’s about. Now it’s my turn to be puzzled; why would any stranger walk in and ask to see someone in H.R. except to apply for a job?

When I explain the ad that says you can apply in person she whips out a clip board with an application form on it. I am not fast enough to draw against her and pull my cross necklace out from inside my blouse and hold it up against the evil thing, so I offer, “Oh I brought a resume.” (The ad had said to fax or email a resume or apply in person; my resume and I are here… after many false starts and inconveniences… to apply in person.)

She doesn’t withdraw the evil clipboard and answers “You still have to fill out an application.”

RATS!

I smile and take the clipboard, resisting the urge to say through my teeth, “Fine. I’ll play your silly little game,” instead offering an insincere thanks.

AN ASIDE: Two questions about applications ~

One ~ In this digital age, why in God’s name are some companies still demanding hard copy applications that duplicate the information on your hard copy resume? I hate them not only for the waste but for the risk. In a temp job I’d worked about a year earlier, the owner of the little company had handed me a huge box of files and said, “Throw out these old applications and turn the folders inside out so we can reuse them.” When I emptied the first folder I noticed copies of the applicant’s driver’s license and social security card, so I asked the owner where the shredder was kept. He wanted to know why I needed a shredder. When I explained, he first muttered “just tear ‘em up” and them decided no, never mind, just hang on to them till tomorrow and he’d bring his shredder in from home. (Yikes!) I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened to those papers had someone else been given the lofty assignment of inverting file folders.

Two ~ O.K., I understand that these companies may have a burning need to have the date you graduated from high school in a certain specific place so they can find this important info at a glance rather than having to read  and find it but that said, if this is really necessary, why the hell can’t they all use the same stupid form? Then applicants could just transfer the information from a resume to a form one time and print out a copy to attach to each resume!  Why does every stupid application have to have a different format? I could see it if you were entering information on specialized-to-that-job skills or classified information that was unusual but…oh wait… wouldn’t that more appropriately call for a RESUME?!? Grrrrr… but I digress…

As I’m filling out the application another woman comes in to apply. She is sloppily dressed and looks a little dirty, and I remember that it’s always best to go last, so I slow my pace and write like the woman who had been in front of me at the desk, taking my old sweet time so that this other applicant will finish first and go back first and then when I get my turn … oh boy howdy … won’t I look even better by comparison?

Brilliant!

Except that this interloper must have been the old woman’s daughter or something because she’s taking  for-freakingever to fill out the form, to the extent that if I stall much longer they might think I am the idiot, so I grudgingly bring my completed form to the desk where a different Efficient Looking Woman is now seated. I explain that I’m there to interview and that E.L.W. #1 had given me the application to fill out and by God I did it so here it is, thanks.

She looks at me blankly and asks what job I’m talking about. I tell her, and explain that the ad offered that I could apply in person, so here I am!

She still looks confused and picks up the phone, punching in four numbers. She explains the perplexing situation to the person on the other end:  There is someone here looking for a job that was advertised in the paper.

She listens and occasionally says something like, “Oh, what are the hours?” (Oh great, now it sounds as if SHE wants the job!)

Finally she reaches for the clip board and says, “O.K., they’ll call you.”

What? Nooooooo no no no no…

“Oh…” I offer…”I took off work this morning to apply in person because the ad offered…”

She doesn’t look up.

I clear my throat and try again: “Excuse me?”

She looks up. With a look that tells me I am going home uninterviewed. I lamely hold out the now-perfect pain-in-the-ass-to-print resume.

“Could you please attach my resume to my application?” I ask.

Without saying anything she takes the paper and shoves it under the application, turns back to her work.

I look around. Miss Sloppy app is still writing. The exit beckons mockingly.

I trudge back to my car with the wind again wildly blowing my hair about, realizing I never had gotten to the point where I ducked into the bathroom to brush it… not that there was any need. I could have looked like the slobby woman who sat next to me filling out the application and no one would have known.

As the sub-head on this blog says, “Any day, anything can happen … and does. Or not.”

And today it did not.

Again.

God I hate job hunting.

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