Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Internet Job Applications

I just applied for a job. Not just a job, but a job for which I am actually qualified. I couldn't pass it up, even though I had made a deal with myself that I wouldn't apply for real jobs until I had graduated (since I can't really move before August, it seems like a waste of time applying for jobs that are being listed now).

So I should feel good, right? But I don't, and here's why--It was an internet application process. You know the one--where you take your beautifully formatted, agonized and fussed-over resume and turn it into an ugly unformatted text document. You don't even get a chance to write a cover letter, to explain all the interesting quirks in your availability and how you may not live in the city yet but will by the time your potential employers need you. Or how you may have spent the past four years writing poetry, but you really aren't a flake. Really.

It reminds me of a story from a friend about how, when she had her son, she switched to 3/4 time at her job. Unfortunately, the payroll system didn't have an option for this, so it continued to pay her full-time salary. Now she owes thousands of dollars to her employer and has to work out a payment plan.

My point? It's an inhuman world out there in employmentville. Much as I (obviously) love technology, there are some areas of life it can't account for. Or, I should say, that its input operators forget to account for. The cynical part of me thinks that these are purposeful oversights--that employers don't want to deal with anomalies or exceptions, so they blame their inability to do so on the "system". Since my optimistic side is a shriveled-up, dusty old prune, I don't have a positive spin to offer in rebuttal.

The implication here is that we, the (potential) employees, shouldn't create "anomalies." We shouldn't create circumstances where we need to shift to 3/4 time or be gone for a month. And here's where my guilt reflex kicks up a storm--should I even be taking a trip to Prague right now? Isn't that incredibly self-indulgent? Shouldn't I be doing everything I can to get to Seattle, preparing myself to be the perfect job candidate?

But there's the little bit of me that is still naive and hopeful that one can have a job that reflects and allows for the life one wants. There are different ways of looking at this situation that don't place me in the role of supplicant. I am, in fact, a highly skilled, experienced worker and my potential employers are just as much candidates seeking and competing for my skills as I am a candidate seeking and competing for a job. For better or for worse, they'll have to take me with my quirks.

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