Friday, February 10, 2012

Playing The Game

Do you know that getting hired is a more formal, ridiculous dance than Victorian era courtship? Do you want to guess how utterly reluctant I am to play this game? You probably don't have to try very hard to imagine that I absolutely loathe the whole the thing.

The real, grown-up job I had before I went to law school, at the recruiting firm I worked for, was the best hiring experience. There was sort of an online quiz that set the bar for basic metrics like having a degree and past experience, as well as some random fun questions to determine if you were a good culture fit, you would be scored and either moved on to the next round or not. There were also a few short answer questions where you were allowed to be completely honest, and frankly, this is what got me my job. There was no cover letter and no annoying 800 boxes on a form to fill out all the information that was already included in your resume (at least I don't remember any). My first interview was done at 7 p.m. at a Starbucks in the Marina. The process got more formal from there but as a startup, still always had a casual, relaxed feel.

Every job I apply to now requires registering with some new online database, filling out all my basic information like name, address, schools attended, then filling in previous employment history but then also attaching a resume which has all that information ANYWAY and then including a customized cover letter. To which I call complete and utter bullshit. It's bullshit. A cover letter is generally no more authentic than the forced thank you notes you wrote to relatives after birthdays when you were a kid. OR the forced thank you notes you write after someone takes the time to actually talk to you. I feel like I'm in a period piece doing one of those ridiculous waltzes they seem to always be doing.

None of it feels real. If you're going to hire me, and pay me a sum of money to spend more time with you than I will likely spend doing anything else with anyone else, shouldn't you know what you're getting yourself into and not some highly stylized false version of me? I realize that the theory is you'll figure out who they are when you interview them, but 3 conversations with someone and you're gonna entrust them with money to do a job? Would you do that with someone you were dating? After 3 dates you're lucky you even know where I live (the absurdity of me having 3 dates will go without comment). The whole interview process is...weird.

And it's not that if I'm being interviewed I'm not answering honestly. *I* am. I'm just not convinced everyone else is. They're likely saying exactly what they think the hiring managers want to hear. Really we should all just have signs around our necks that say, "Desperate for work. Any work." There just has to be a better way to match everyone up in an authentic way. But I suppose if there was, we'd do it. Which is why people rely on networking which I ALSO, unsurprisingly, hate because that requires selling yourself and, well, we've talked about this before, haven't we? Not so good with the self sales job.

I got into an argument the other day about needing to include your name and address header on your cover letter. "Why does it need to be there?" I asked. "Because," person responded. "Because why?" "Because that's how we do it." Nope. Not good enough. Thanks for that tautological argument but nope. You've given me a finite number of lines in which to make an absurd and ridiculous case for why you should hire me to begin with, in which I can't just say, "I'd be REALLY good at this. You just have to trust me. I promise. (Looking at you University of __, whose compliance officer I want to be.)", and you want me to use a good inch of that space for information that is included in no less than 5 other places in a job application? That's just stupid. Stttttooooppid. But guess what? I have to do it anyway. Because that's how this game is played. *Exasperated sigh.*

I also had an argument back in the day with career services at my law school because I didn't want to include my address on my resume. Why does where I live have any bearing on my ability to take a job? Also, it's already included in annoying online application, most likely. Why, in an era with increasingly so little is privacy, does a prospective employer then have the ability to google earth search where I'm living? It's none of their damn business. Correspondence for jobs is not done though the mail anymore. Holding on to this antiquated system where we include this information is ridiculous. The lady at career services suggested that if I didn't want to include my address, I could get a P.O. Box. I'm fully considering using a made up address, the way the Blues Brothers used 1060 West Addison Street as their address. Except then people would think I don't seriously want to be considered. It's not that. It's that doing things for the sake of doing things because that's the way they've always been done does not sit well with me. I'll give you my private, personal information when you hire me. Or give me yours first and then I'll feel more comfortable. "I'm writing to you from Nigeria where I am a prince..."

For all the foot dragging stubbornness, I realize that I have to just suck it up and play this game or else I'm gonna be in this arrested development place forever and ever. So I'm off to perfect cover letters telling prospective employers how great I am in about 500 words and hope that someone out there just gives me a chance.

This sucks. (Super insightful closing line.)

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