Friday, April 07, 2006

How not to get hired...

12:23pm today
Phone rings
Caller - May I speak to Barb (the head of HR)?
Jennifer - One moment please
Connects call
Phone rings
Caller - I asked to speak to Barb and I got voice mail
Jennifer - Barb is probably at lunch, did you leave her a message?
Caller - I've left her about 20 messages, she never calls me back
Jennifer - Is this regarding employment?
Caller - Yes
Jennifer - Barb doesn't take calls regarding employment, if you'd like to submit your resume please use our website,, and if you are selected for an interview then they will call you.
Caller - I've submitted my resume on the website, it doesn't seem to get anyone anywhere. I'd just like to talk to Barb or someone.
Jennifer - (silence)
Caller - How did you know I was calling about employment anyway?
Jennifer - Because you asked for Barb who works in HR
Caller - So did you just not put me through because you knew I was calling about employment then?
Jennifer - If you'll recall I did put you through.
Caller - Well, can I just leave her a message please?
Jennifer - Hold please.
Phone rings
Caller - You put me through to Barb's voicemail, but I wanted to leave a message with you.
Jennifer - She'll pick up her voicemail before she'll walk by my desk.
Caller - Well, I'd like to leave a message with you anyway.
Jennifer - OK, name?
Caller - *gives his name*
Jennifer - Phone number she can reach you at?
Caller - *gives phone number*
Jennifer - Thank you Mr. So-and-So, I'll pass the message along.
Caller - You know I wasn't trying to be rude, I just wanted to talk to Barb.
Jennifer - No problem, Mr. So-and-So, thanks for calling.

Usually when I get rude people, they are usually calling about getting a job, or money they are owed by either the company or idividuals who work there. In the latter case, how rude you are probably doesn't matter. In the case of someone looking to work somewhere, unless you are looking for work with a collection agency, being rude will lose you any shot you may have had at a job. Normally, when people call and are rude to me because they can't get a call back about their application, it's a hit and run kind of thing, where I never find out their name, so I can't link their behavior to any specific resume, but this was a special case, he insisted that I write down his name. What was he thinking? No idea, but in the end I think he realized that he'd made a tactical error. I recognised the guy's voice, he's called and been rude to me in the past as well, now I have a name. What a moron.

Also confidential to those crafty folks who think they'll get through the screening by claiming that it's a personal call - when people actually make personal calls to the office of their friend or family member, the don't usually blurt it right out, the are usually a bit timid about it.
Phone rings
Caller - Does Barb ever answer her phone, or is it just a voicemail box?
Jennifer - Yes Barb does answer her phone when she's at her desk.
Caller - Can you tell me what time she would be at her desk?
Jennifer - The office is open from 9-5, people generally take their lunch between 12 and 2. I'd try her back later.
Caller -
Jennifer - Is this regarding employment?
Caller - No, it's personal, it's her cousin.
Jennifer - Well then leave a message and she'll call you back.
Caller - Uh....
Jennifer - Thanks for calling, bye.

This guy is either looking for a job or he's a collection agency, the fatal flaw in his story is that he's related, if you are really a relative, then the person will either call you back, or you shouldn't be wasting the receptionist's time by labouring the issue.

I got these two calls in the space of an hour, I wish I could say that this was an isolated thing, it's not, these two were particularly stupid, but I deal with this kind of stuff every day. And I wish I could say that it only happens at certain offices, but that's not true either.

This is my way of bidding my stint at the ad agency fairwell, today is my last day, good bye stupid pushy arty types on the phone, good bye long commute, good bye early, early mornings and long, long days.
I'm sure I'll end up somewhere with longer days, and a worse commute, this seems to be the pattern with me. My career life has become reminiscent of Thomas Hardy's painful book Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I thought my first job was my worst job ever, and that once I'd done that job, I could handle everything. Then I did a lot of crappy temping, then I worked at the museum where the union sold me out - ideologically a big blow for me, then I worked in pensions - that was actually nice, then the hotel chain (the death of the family horse), then the auction house (becoming pregnant with D'Urberville's baby), then the charity - an ok gig, then this place also not so bad, but I'm only getting more and more frustrated with the whole thing, less and less patience with office politics and more scarred by my negative experiences at work. I thought for a while that I was getting a thicker skin, but, I think I may have a mild case of shell shock or post traumatic stress disorder. I don't mind getting grief from the general public, people give me attitude because they can't get through to the person they want to talk to, and I'm fine with that, you want to lick atrifacts at the museum and you're pissed off because I told you not to - that's cool. It's the attitude from the boss and co-workers, when it's not deserved, that I just can't take any more. I know everyone else feels this way at work too, but this is at a critical level for me.
Here's an example, the othere day as I was leaving the office, I walked past this conversation:
Boss: Hey Bob, can I talk to you?
Employee: Yeah sure what's up?
Boss: Can we talk in my office?
Employee: Am I in trouble?
I left at this point, but even though it had absolutely nothing to do with me, I was still upset after walking past it. Luckily I was leaving for the day, so I went straight out the door so no one could see how emotional it made me. Then I told my boyfriend about getting all verklempt walking past someone else's conversation and cried about it that night. Now, I won't claim to be someone who never cries, because I've been known to cry about stuff, but usually it's about stuff that actually concerns me, not at the whiff of office conflict. It was just that it gave me a flashback of the shit I got dealt every day when I worked at the auction house. I now understand why people go on stress leave. After the auction house, I got the sweats every time I got a call to ask me if I was ready to go back to work yet, when my head-hunter would describe the job she wanted me to take, I would get flashbacks of bad things that happened at the auction house. I thought I'd gotten better after finally managing to go back to work, but now I don't think it's that much better. If I can't get this thing back on the rails and get a job that doesn't drive me around the bend soon, I'm going to have to look into self-employment or social programs - because the way it is now - is not working for me.


yrautca said...

Millions of years of evolution led to a 3-walled cubical? Surely we could have done better. Office jobs are not satisfying. They aren’t supposed to be. They are supposed to pay bills and help you live for the weekend. Believe me when I say this, I feel your pain. I have seen the other side – the side of unemployment. It wrecks your confidence, makes you feel inadequate. I had good credentials and yet felt so helpless and hopeless. Do you understand where the callers were coming from? I don’t think they were rude. They were desperate. They just want to get hold of something, anything, just like you.

So a couple years ago I didn’t have a job. I got plenty interviews and traveled around the country to interview but nothing came of it. Then some recruiter called and told me about my current job. I said to myself, yeah right. The job description was way beyond what I thought I could do. I got a phone interview first and I didn’t even prepare – I was so down that I had given up. Then this guy from the company said he wanted to meet me for lunch. Again, I couldn’t care less. He asked me a series of technical questions and I was so out of it that I could only answer 2 or 3. I didn’t give a rat’s butt. Then I said to him, call me next week and then ask me any questions you want to ask me. To my surprise he agreed. I was like, oh god, this guy can’t take a hint. So he and his boss (my current boss) call me the next week. During the week I had grudgingly revised my stuff. So they talk to me for an hour and I answer their questions. They say you need to fly out here to interview. I was like, are these people stupid. So I come here for 4 days to interview during which time they treat me like royalty. I didn’t understand what was going on. Then when I got home I got the offer two days later. I still DO NOT understand how and why this happened. Sheer luck maybe. Point being, crazy stuff happens. People get lucky.

What can I tell you. You don’t deserve a temp job, you don’t deserve people asking you if you’d be available for work next week. People suck. Are you in college? Can you pursue some degree/diploma that could help you? I see ads for the technical institutions all the time. In the meantime, you should not let this bring you down. It’s a bad feeling I know. When I was like that I learned so much more about myself. I don’t have my own company yet and I may not have one until a few years from now otherwise you know I would seriously have made you an offer. You are young. If changes need to be made you need to make them to get around this. If you need to go back to the drawing board, do that. You are too young not to.

Jennifer said...

That's sound advice, Yrautca. I agree. I am in school now, finishing a degree, but I do need to rethink the whole thing, because the degree I'm working on is not going to get me a job that I want. And now the family members who read this blog are going to start squalking about my precious precious degree, but let's face it, the degree is not doing anything for my happiness or quality of life.
The bigger problem is that I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. There are several things that I would be great at, and I'm in the process of looking into them, I've made a list and started researching what's involved. But I'm just not sure. If I had a drive to do something specific I can assure you that I'd already have made it happen, but, there it is. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

As for the rudy-tudes on the phone, I do understand the desperation thing, and if you had heard their tone of voice instead of reading it, you'd probably see why it's frustrating to deal with. The thing is that I am often amazed by people's ineptness when it comes to the job search. Being rude for one thing, not proofreading the resume is another. If you are trying soooo hard to get a job, then you also have to be smart about it. I sympathize with the woes job search, I hate it so much that I even avoid the whole hiring process when I'm on the hiring side. I hate reading resumes, it's so depressing.

Trib said...

This might sound cracked out, but before I started college my dad got my brother and I some vocational testing in Chicago. They test all sorts of stuff from hand eye coordination to remembering strings of numbers to personality tests and when you get done they recommend of couple jobs. It's like those vocational tests they give you in high school, but accurate. In HS they said I should be a park ranger. This one said doctor or engineer. Anyhow if you follow their advice you have like a 95% chance of being happy in your work. All the testing was like a grand and it takes a couple days, but I think it was worth it.

Lindsey said...

What a freakin' moron. I've interviewed people like this. people that call me everyday wanting a job, asking if I've looked at their resume. do youknow where those resumes are now? They are in my trash can.

Sexy Suburbanite said...

Corporate life sucks. People who enjoy all that backstabbing and climbing over other people to get to the top are not my type of people (nor yours). I was originally in Advertising and I can tell you that ad agencies are some of the worst places to work for that sort of thing. I hate that working in an office means that you have to "play the game" to get ahead. People are rarely judged on their actual ability -- instead they are judged on how well they PRETEND to do their jobs. How well can you sell yourself and how well you can kiss ass seem to be the important things. But, all hope is not lost. I have had jobs that I really loved and worked in some great coporate environments too. You will find something great for you -- it just sucks that you have to go through so many not-so-great jobs first. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I think the trick is to avoid temping unless you have to. It's basically exactly the same as what illegals in the southern states do. The only difference is you are treated as interchangeable people that can speak english whereas they are treated as interchangeable people that can lift things. The thing is though the nature of the work isn't nearly as bad as the constant fear of being told you won't be coming back tomorrow and not being given a reason. The combination of rejection and the lack of closure fills you with such anger and hopelessness that it is nauseating.

I have to say I can totally see where the French youth are coming from. If I was 19 and looking at seven years of what basically amounts to temping I wouldn't just set cars on fire, I think I'd probably go on a rampage.

I think the answer is just to acquire some marketable skill. Do you speak French? There are jobs in Ontario that pretty much will give you 40K for that alone. That being said I think the only thing worse than being shouted at by an angry english speaker is ...

It might be worth doing some sort of certificate or something from a college that says you can do something. I know that sounds awful but for whatever reason the people in HR as far as I can tell love that shit because it saves them from having to take any chances.


core said...

i liked the "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" comparison.

well played.