I overslept this morning. That isn’t amazing in itself. I can easily sleep half the day away if I don’t force myself out of the bed. Once I’m up though, sitting on the edge of the bed at least, I’m good . But the oversleeping this morning seemed to have a disquieting efffect. I was incoherent when my wife woke me to tell me she was leaving for work. Again, a common occurrence for one who has been woken from a deep sleep, dreaming of something better than what they will probably face today. One of those, “where am I” moments that I truly don’t like. And a feeling of distress. Something not being right.
The headline: “Unemployment rate falls, lowest in nearly 3 years,” screamed out as the featured story on my Yahoo page while I checked my email for responses to my recent blast of online job applications. “A burst of hiring in December pushed the U.S. unemployment rate to its lowest level in nearly three years, giving the economy a boost at the end of 2011,” was the lead. The unemployment rate has dropped to 8.5 percent just in time for the election, or so it seems. Except, as the article points out, when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate was only 7.8. “Only 7.8” percent was not a good unemployment rate either.
And I can’t get an interview. I’m not over-educated, or over-experienced in any one field, but I am now “old” in many respects. Age discrimination aside, even though they can’t ask me how old I am in a job interview, they can eliminate me from consideration by asking when I graduated from high school. Just like they figure out at the grocery store if I’m old enough to buy the booze they’re too young to ring up. Do I think they eliminate me from consideration when I say 1971? Absolutely. During the one and only interview I’ve had since I moved here, for an outside sales job, the Regional Sales Manager who was clearly in his thirties, said I was “dating” myself when I started talking about the Bell System breakup of the 80’s. He said he was very young when that happened, but he, unlike many others, remembered it. I think I “dated” myself when I walked into the interview with gray streaks in my hair and a goatee that has gone mostly white and a double-breasted suit I haven’t worn in 25 years.
The truth is I have little or no outside sales experience, so I was surprised that I even got the interview. Didn’t really want the job anyway, didn’t think I would get it, but thought I might practice up on my interview skills since it’s been a while. I can’t really see me selling sandpaper to body shops. But then it was a job, and I need one of those.
The job application process has changed drastically over the years too. You can’t really check the newspaper for job openings anymore or “hit the streets” looking for opportunities. You go instead to the thousands of job board sites and search for job openings in your area, and then you spend an hour or more filling out an online job application and, of course, the now famous personality test. “Do you think you are good looking?” Hell yes, thanks for asking. But then they also want to know if you think you’re handsome, attractive, beautiful or someone that would make a train take a dirt road, in subsequent questions, all designed to “trip” you up. The instructions say that you should answer the questions truthfully, not how you WANT to think of yourself. Does anybody do that? Yep, I’m so ugly, when I was younger, my mother had to tie a pork chop around my neck so the dog would play with me.
What really sets me off when filling out these online job applications is that the first thing they ask you to do is upload your resume or copy and paste it to a box. Then the next ten pages of the online application asks you to regurgitate the entire resume information into their specific boxes. It infuriates me. I have to tab back and forth from the Word document and the online application to give them the information I uploaded ten minutes ago. And I was already eliminated from consideration when I put 1971 in the box three pages ago when it asked when I graduated from high school. And what’s this “Degree” or “Significant Course Work” in relation to high school? Do you choose a course of study in high school now? Something other than reading, righting and rithmetic? I put “General”. I’m probably eliminated then, if I haven’t already been with “1971.” But the worse thing that happens during the online job application process is the computer will freeze up after you’ve been entering information for 45 minutes and you have to start all over again.
When you’re old like me, shouldn’t you have developed some contacts over the years? Someone you worked with back in the day that you can call and say, “Hey (insert name), I’ve moved back to town and I’m looking for a job. Got anything with Xyz Company?” That’s the company where your good friend is now CEO and knows you would be a perfect fit for that Director of Marketing they’re looking for. Or how about that night janitor position they haven’t been able to fill.
Time to stop feeling sorry for myself and get back to the process, I guess. Checking the boxes next to “hard working,” “attractive,” “funny,” “outside-of-the-box thinker,” “dedicated,” “team player,” “good looking,” “leader,” “problem solver,” “handsome,” “smart.” Here’s one: “Have you ever thought about stealing more than $5 from your employer?” WTF. Is anyone going to answer in the affirmative to that question? If I only thought about stealing $4.95, is that okay? Later in the same personality test, they up it to $10 and ask the same questions.
I think that’s why I overslept this morning, woke up disquieted and with that feeling of distress. I have to fill out more job applications and wonder whether I have ever just thought about embezzling $4.95 from any of my last employers without being caught.