I spend most of my time these days applying for jobs, taking skills tests for jobs, doing phone interviews and in person interviews for jobs. Then there’s ancillary stuff, like working out to look trim and fit. I typically see a hairstylist to make sure my do is up to snuff, hair professionally colored, and I always see an aesthetician the day before an in person interview to touch up eyebrows and make sure nose or ear hairs aren’t sprouting out grotesquely. I also make sure my wardrobe is appropriate, if there’s a coffee shop nearby sometimes I’ll stake out the employer or peek around online, to get a feel for day-to-day dress code, and often shop for the interview with a fashion-minded friend if need be to make sure I wear just a notch or two above what my prospective employer-interviewer is likely to be wearing. So in short, it’s a full time occupation, one I’m serious and methodical about. I even tan to look as good as possible.
The way it works is you apply for the job usually on the company’s site, my res’s are set up to be easily scaled to include specific keywords, and I’m know I’m doing that part right because they generate a 50% contact rate. Meaning the company calls me to follow up at least half the time, usually I’m then asked to do a skills test, then, after I pass it, they invite me in. Lately they’ve all been semi-open house deals where I get to meet others who have made it through those hurdles, and I meet at least one if not more team and HR managers who chat me up after a group orientation. I’m applying for jobs in the $15 to $20 an hour range, tech related or support, some hosting or web page stuff, they’re almost always hiring several people, so it’s not a one shot deal; these jobs are well within my skill set and recent experience, not a stretch for me at all. I have superb references which I’ve had friends check out posing as employers just to be safe. I can honestly say, for what they’re paying, they’re getting a real fair deal in me.
I interview reasonably well and I’ve never once, in this latest round of job searching, been even closed to stumped on a technical question or when reviewing how I would handle a routine trouble shooting call. I have an HR director/hiring manager sister who runs HR in a tech support contact center, and who gives me all the inside scoops on behavior questions and rehearse the answers with me. Ask me what animal I want to be and I have an answer for it and can explain why I chose it without missing a beat.
Last Monday, I went to such an open house event after sailing through the screens, they said they were looking to hire about eight to ten people and there were eleven of us there. Not bad odds. This was a center that took tech calls from agents and assistants in branch offices for a large, multi-line insurance company. I’m insurance licensed and have sold millions of dollars in variable annuities, life insurance, health plans, etc., so I’m way ahead of the pack in terms of internal lingo there. And it was pretty easy trouble shooting, can’t connect to the company website from office or home, need a pw reset, that kind of ultra-basic thing, which I have totally wired. It paid $18.50 an hour to start, had great benefits and it was so close to my apartment I could have ridden a bike there. I would have gladly taken it.
I got to know four people who were also interviewing, none of the four had a college degree. There was a guy who had just gotten out of the Navy and did some network stuff, another guy who worked for the iPhone support section at Apple, a lady who had just gotten out of high school a couple of years ago and was going to a community college part time taking IT and a programming language, and a guy who was working at Best Buy but looking for something better. They were all bright and likable, from age 20 to about age 35 or so. But none of them had the kind of down in the trenches, recent hard-core retail tech support across PCs and Macs that I have. None of them scored as high on the skills test as I did, I made a 96 btw, and only the Best Buy guy even knew what a tracert was.
Three of those four told me via email they received offers on Thursday. Of those three, one told me he declined, and one said he is looking at other jobs and probably won’t accept it. So this morning I sent a nice email asking my company contact if she needed anything else from me and thanking her, and got a form rejection letter back within half an hour. Which means, somehow, I was ranked dead last or near dead last of the entire 11 person group.
How else to explain that besides age? The people interviewing me looked like they were about 25 years-old, early 30s at the most (The one time I did get hired a few years ago was probably in large part because the person I drew as my interviewer happened to be older than me).
I went to another open house deal on Friday and I liked that company a lot. It doesn’t pay as much but it’s not bad, and it’s a good, growing field. So maybe I’ll hear something there. But such is my life folks. A full time job and then some getting interviewed for jobs I’m highly qualified for and may well be able to run rings around my competition doing, and mysteriously never making it