A friend and fellow job seeker sent me his “ramblings” to post, or not; up to me, he said . We share a friendship, the label “unemployed”, and a desire to expand and grow as humans, in a world that increasingly demands that job hunters narrow into a label-able commodity.
There are those who live for, and cling to, the label (as discussed in previous post and interview, The American Dream Falls Down). Then there are those who never could squeeze ourselves into one. If you fall into the latter category, it’s likely my friend’s “ramblings” provide a voice that will will ring true for you:
When Did Privilege Become Prerequisite
The question, “What do you do?” has always bothered me. I do a lot of things. Now that I’m unemployed, “What do you do?” makes me avoid meeting new people. Keeps me away from parties.
The question bugging me today is: “What do you WANT to do?” I want to do lots of things. I CAN do lots of things. I’m a dreamer, a visionary! In job-hunting, that kind of open-mindedness will guarantee your resume a one-way ticket to the trash bin.
I hired a career coach to tell me why I can’t land a job. She tells me in no uncertain terms that I need focus. We review my Myers-Briggs results, I do some soul-searching and begin resume revision #875,233. My thoughts stray to the Great Depression – a world I know only from documentary films.
It’s 1920-something and a truck pulls into Hooverville amid a cloud of dust. Men gather around, hoping to be selected. They need work. The man in charge says, “I need five men,” then points, “You, you, you, you and… you.” He doesn’t asking for resume. The work will be some kind of manual labor. They don’t care what kind. Any work will do. Before the crash, these men weren’t all farmers. They were bankers, barkeeps, tradesmen, entrepreneurs, whatever.
On a basic level, I feel like Depression-era men: “Please hire me. I have skills. I’m smart, willing and able to work.” That won’t get you hired today. You need focus, or at least the appearance of focus. My career coach pushes the issue against my steely resistance, and she’s right. If I want a job, this is how to get it. This morning, I received an email confirming this necessity. A certain industry professional graciously gave her feedback on my resume, suggesting that resume will be discarded by most Human Resources staffers unless it has focus and shows “what sort of career [you] are seeking.”
I’ve always thought the ability to define your own career path was a position of privilege. Now, I am finding out that choice has gone beyond privilege. It is a prerequisite!
That’s comical, isn’t it? Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, and the U.S., are born into their career field. They go into the family business. They live in a fishing town, so they fish. In my world, you choose, and stick with your choice. Skills, education, experience, and interest are starting points. They are the basics. There’s a new deal-breaker in town, and it’s spelled F-O-C-U-S. If I can’t specify exactly what kind of job I want, then apparently, I am not hirable. Makes me shudder. They say focus. I hear limit.
We may have skirted another Great Depression, but nearly one of every ten Americans is unemployed. Most of us aren’t too concerned about defining our deepest ambitions. We need income so we can eat, keep a roof over our heads. We’ll hop on the truck no matter where it’s going. At the same time, folks in my age range grew up in the optimistic eighties, and still like to think that the world is our oyster. If I want to get an interview, I have to close the oyster. Tuck it in my shirt pocket. I get back to work on my resume and start rewriting the SUMMARY. It might go something like this:
“Master categorian with over thirty years experience filing, labeling and boxing. Expertise in suppressing his own potential. A narrow-thinker and imagination-killer, dedicated to describing and declaring things. Specializing in singular, permanent and easily-labeled desires. Adept at crushing curiosity, destroying the desire to learn, explore and dream.”