13. July 2005 · Comments Off on The Ongoing Quest for Meaningful Employment: Part the Second · Categories: Domestic, General, Working In A Salt Mine...

Tell you what, nothing except being stuck in an abusive relationship will do quite such a demolition job on your ego and self-respect as the hunt for gainful employment does. The day or two after sending out a round of resumes (Email, fax and snail-mail) to a crop of twelve or fifteen promising potential employers— all interesting-looking, all offering the right sort of compensation, all within your capabilities and experience— and being met with vast indifference… that is the worst. Here you have distilled your experience, your talents, the inestimable value and enthusiasm you could bring to any employer, poured it all out on a single sheet of paper… and the phone doesn’t ring, except that it is some dumbass trying to sell you satellite TV service, and there is nothing in the email inbox but some Nigerian dirtbag trying to arrange a money transfer… oh, and a message from an HR weenie who can’t figure out how to open a WP doc attachment— your resume! The working world, apparently, can get along just fine without you, and the reminder stings.

But there are lumps of cynical amusement to be mined out of the clay of the want-ads (both on-line, and dead-tree), although of late the SA Express News seems to have wised up about those deliberately vague little ads which promised all sorts of goodies but never saying what it was that prospective employees would be actually working at. Or even the name of the company. (Nine out of ten it’s A***y, people, A***y. They won’t say so up front, but it’s A***y or some other pyramid sales scheme which has you flogging crap to your family and friends, or what you’ll have left of them after turning every social occasion into a sales pitch. Beware, my children, of any place that has group interviews that start with a video… flee, flee, the moment it becomes clear! Plug your ears, and flee!)

This week’s potential employer giggle was afforded by a certain local institute of higher learning, which advertised for an administrative assistant for an academic department head. Eh, it looked interesting, and in the neighborhood of what I am looking for. They have the job description posted online. Oh, my; a page and a half worth of expectations and duties, everything but actually teaching a class of freshmen, handing tissues to the department chairman in the restroom, and making homemade jam for faculty teas. Everything else was there, though, all for the salary of a little over $9.00 an hour. Nothing like expecting Cadillac Escalade service for the price of a Geo Metro— I think the job has been open for a bit, cannot imagine why. Maybe they have a hell of a benefits package, one hopes so for the department chairman’s sake.

My last job hunt was a desultory affair— I scanned the want-ads for a year, and noticed that there was a revolving door at certain employers; either it was a sucky place to work, or they had a monster in the cellar that they were throwing human sacrifices to. Oddly enough, the local public TV station is one of those which constantly replaced employees— in contrast to public radio, which people only leave when they die, or their spouse is transferred out of town, (I work there, I know. Public radio and public TV have nothing to do with each other, actually but some of the regular staff cross over, on occasion. And it is a small town.)

At the urging of Robin, at Ranting n Raven, I did drive over to fill out an application at a commercial radio station, which wanted an administrative assistant/receptionist. The offices were at the top of a 12-storey building, with a view— only about the third radio station I have ever been in, which had a view. I went up in the elevator with one of the announcers— believe me, I can pick out a radio voice— who showed me there the office was… it was the one with about fifteen other women in the waiting room, all filling out forms. I should have sucked up a little more—I didn’t get the job, but I am not sure they could have afforded me, anyway. Basically, what commercial radio wants, is someone just out of a broadcasting school, who will work for minimum wage just for the éclat of working at a real radio station… and has boundless ambition, maybe a modicum of talent and tits out to here, although that last usually doesn’t apply to the guys. Me, I’ll take the money. (Besides I already work at a radio station, mostly out of sentiment, and a desire to keep my skills fresh. They can’t afford me, either, strictly speaking.)

So, on Monday, I had an e-mail complimenting me on my “impressive” resume, and thanking me for my interest, but that potential employee has already focused on several other people whose qualifications more nearly suit their needs Well, fair enough… at least I can be assured they got the damned resume but it’s a hell of a way to start off the week. Things might be looking up a little, though: I am on the books at a couple of temp services that do the more high-end, executive staff placement, and one of them had me come over to their office this morning and do a couple of tests that the employer likes to spring on all potential staff hires… and tomorrow I have an interview and form-filling session at another. They both think they have something that will suit. We shall see.

When the catalogue music place was closing, one of the other ladies and I derived a great deal of merriment from what we both claimed would be our last, desperate bottom-of-the barrel employment option. The phone-sex line operators were running advertisements offering a salary of $10.00 and benefits…Better than a university is offering these days, for an admin assistant to a department chair. We were handicapped, though, by our inability to talk dirty without breaking out in giggles.

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