Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Job Huntin'

I'm in the market for a job, and during the course of this hunting, I've experienced some interesting things:


I don't know if this is the rise of the superficially polite culture or if this turns out to be the place we end up when employers have one-too-many "sensitivity" seminars, but some companies seem reluctant to actually tell me if they've tossed me to the OUT pile. I called a business today, asking for a follow-up to my application, which I turned in two weeks ago. They took my name, placed me on hold ("Hammer time!"), and eventually told me that they were still processing applications and would contact people when they're finished.

Having worked in a retail store before, I know applications come in regularly and continuously. Do they expect to get to the bottom of this pile before letting anybody know? I guess that's one way to do it, but most positions like that (dean of a university, CEO of a company) have strict guidelines for applicants and a rigorous cut-off date. I, however, am applying to be a box mover. How many other box movers do they need to apply before they know if I'm at the top of my box-mover class?

Maybe this is a really ephemeral goodbye? I mean, what they said was basically, "Don't call us. We'll call you, if you're special." At the store I worked as a manager for, we received many many applications. We'd sort through and make a pile of "yes", call those people and make interviews. If a "NO" pile person called, we'd tell them that we decided to hire other people. So I don't know if "we're still up to our eyes in applications" is the actual truth, or just a different way of saying they're looking for applications other than mine.

The test is, if I call back in 9 months, will I get the same answer?


The first interview I had ended with the lady telling me I had "too much education". I certainly can't refute that. I've been in school of the majority of my years. What this person is actually saying, in a rather unimaginative way, is that eventually I'll leave them. I will, too; working in a furniture store is not my current goal.

Employers have a hard task at hand. Ideally, they want to stock their work force with the greatest and most reliable workers, who will work for them forever. I remember managing the store: if my best workers were on vacation, it was so much more work. So many more problems. Why did those girls have to go away to college!

Companies that talk about "too much education" are really telling me "we don't want to pay to train you, then lose you in 7 months". I respect that. The issue is where is the line drawn? My previous store hired a girl who was only going to work for 6 months or so. She was moving to New Zealand to work on a master's degree in oceanographic research. She's not going to stay if we offer her a $0.75 raise. Still, they hired her and she worked diligently and well for those short months. Why was she an excellent employee? She was smart and friendly.

The flip-side were the people who weren't all that smart. Poor Nancy. She was a sweet girl who had a great disposition, but she was also the biggest weed-smoker I've known. She would come in to work in a fog, not remembering her sign-in number. I remember it! It was 4875-662. Her reaction time was slow enough that she often couldn't dance out of the way of other employees moving fast. She took frequent smoke breaks, which the managers allowed because she would start to whine and become unusable if the breaks were too delayed. I remember repeatedly telling her not to immediately smoke a joint while waiting for a ride after her closing shift; she had a tendency to leave them half-smoked on the window ledges and outdoor tables.

But she showed up for work regularly. And she'd never leave for a better job. Ever.

Of course, she did go to jail for short bit for showing her breasts to a policeman and trying to force him to have sex with her. But that's not a job.

Or is it?


My friend removed his master's degree from his job applications. I was all lined up to get a job at a bank here in town, but I felt compelled to mention that I would need to miss some days because of upcoming tours with the brass band. Two days in November, two in March, and two weeks in January apparently seemed like enough to outweigh all my other good qualities.

My friend Katie told me that one of her friends basically spent the summer living on the floor of her apartment last year. The friend came to visit... and stayed for a while. She even got a job at one of the upscale stores on the Plaza, the premiere shopping area in KC. How? She just didn't tell them she was leaving in 8 weeks, then she quit at the appropriate time.

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