I remember now what it was that knocked the stuffing out of me last year and the year before and the year before that, trying to find a job. I’m getting absolutely nowhere. Scratch-off lottery tickets have proven a more productive use of my time and limited resources over the last four weeks. Texas Workforce Commission. i.e., unemployment, requires the unemployed to keep a log of how many apps we’ve submitted, I’ve put in just shy of 50 now in less than a month of logging. That’s almost 50 job applications for stuff I’m eminently qualified for. These jobs are not a reach, the highest paying one was $20/hr, most are more like 15 bucks, a few paid barely over minimum wage. Seriously, these firms would be lucky to get someone like me for that price. But here’s how it actually goes down.
I scan the job listings several times a day and have alerts set up on those that allow it to notify me the moment a new one shows up. These kinds of jobs are not singles, they’re always hiring several people, often dozens of people. I don’t just meet every listed requirement, I meet every plus or preferred or close to it. The posting says high school diploma or GED, I have degrees in hard science. The jobs says one year of experience in customer service or technical support a must, I have well over a decade. They often ask for excellent written skills, I’m an active, published author. The firm warns applicants they have to stay cool under pressure, I’ve been a stockbroker and commodities trader, had callers sobbing, threaten to kill me or kill themselves while on the line, claim they’re going to bomb the building or burn my house down, without it rattling me one bit.
Do they want someone who can explain complex topics to a wide range of customers? I can walk an eighty-year old retired housewife who barely speaks English through generating and emailing me an MSINFO and read it through it while she’s still on the phone. Your jobs requires some upselling? How often do you suppose someone who has sold over a quarter billion dollars, yes Billion with a “B,” worth of stuff on the phone comes into your contact center willing to work for ten bucks an hour on a 60 day temp assignment with no overtime, production bonuses, or benefits? You insist on a strong work ethic? I wasn’t just the top producer out of hundreds in my last job, it’s on the company’s website to be independently verified by any prospective employer. Not that anyone ever asks, I never get that far.
There’s a skills test to weed out the braggers? Most of them tell you what you made at the end. The lowest I’ve scored is an 80, and that was on a real hard test where other applicants I spoke with scoredh lower, on several I’ve correctly answered 100% of the questions. Maybe some age discrimination is afoot: I really do think some of that may be going on. But these days I can pass for my mid-thirties, I look better, slimmer and trimmer, a 28 inch waist and a head full of non gray hair, better shape than I’ve been in for at least 10 years. My resumes are carefully written to give little away in that department, plus they’ve been tested to snuggle right into any software or template used by the company to detect keywords and other categories. Could my references be fragging me behind my back? Doubtful, I’ve actually had friends call them up posing as a prospective employer and everything is on the up and up.
It’s not just me of course. One of my sisters is an HR rockstar. She has every certification anyone could want, hell, she has a degree in it with a 3.9 GPA and twenty years of experience. Everything from entry level to Director of HR at a firm with over a thousand employees, she’s put in over a 100 apps in the last six months, been on a dozen interviews, and she’s getting absolutely no where too. The most frustrating thing about it for both of us is we usually never hear anything back. Outside of a confirmation email that the app has been received, or in the rare case of a brief phone or in person interview, they don’t even do us the courtesy of telling us we didn’t get it. In way too many cases the ad either stays up or reappears within a few weeks for the same job with the same company, and still, applications or queries as to the status go unanswered. Not a peep.
How to explain that other than the company, for some reason I’d pay good money to know, has specifically determined they do NOT want applicants like us working for them? This has happened even in job openings where I had a friend in good standing on the inside, used the employee referral tabs, and been given the promise my application would be seen and fairly reviewed (There have also been more than a couple of cases where a friend told me that, then somehow managed to never be available via phone or email to discuss it in detail and follow through). Which makes me insatiably curious to know what it is the Job Creators do want.
The only “offer” I’ve had was a scam. It was a disreputable outfit posing as a job when what they really did was try to sell you a CD-seminar course and sales “kit,” you would then supposedly use to independently sell their product virtually door-to-door.
This is life for millions of us at the bottom of the economy, where it feels like there is no way up, no way forward, and no way out.