I got my first job in the mid-90s. Back then, it was super easy to get a job. You either heard a job was hiring or you saw an ad in the newspaper, which was delivered every day, went to the place, filled out a paper application and, if you were particularly savvy, asked to speak to a manager right after you completed the application. Each time I was able to fill out an application on-site and speak to a manager right away, I got the job. Why? Because in addition to seeing my credentials on paper, they were able to see ME in person.
Sometimes that stupid paper doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about a potential applicant. Those managers who saw me right upon completion of the application could tell by the fact that I asked to speak to them right away that I was eager. They could see that I took the process seriously by the fact that I was professionally dressed, meaning I hadn’t just stumbled upon the job opportunity and came into the place right off the street–I had done some research and prepared myself for that important first presentation. When they saw ME, they were able to see a great smile, a warm attitude, and give me a mini-interview right then and there. I repeat: Each time I was able to do that, I got the job.
Not until everything got computerized did I start getting turned down for jobs I for which I have MORE than the minimum qualifications. And for the life of me, I wish I knew what some of these employers were looking for. Since I am stuck at home without a license, thanks to the state of Michigan thinking that suspending a person’s license for being unable to pay Driver Responsibility Fees will somehow help the person who can no longer drive to a job pay for said fees, I have been looking for remote positions that will allow me to make a little money to pay down some of my debts (including the stupid license fees, which they conveniently jack up despite any minimal payment I try to send them). Mind you, I have worked for Target for several years, wearing many hats: I was a cashier, worked the guest services desk, was a team trainer and overnight stocker, and sometimes worked the sales floor; I worked as a Flow Team manager at Wal-Mart supervising a crew of six pretty rowdy men; I have worked in health care facilities in a receptionist/patient services assistant capacity, which included working in a call center, sitting on my butt for hours at a time glued to a phone, scheduling appointments, using computers, etc. In the course of those experiences and the fact that I completed an entire grad program online, I figured I had enough experience to take a $9-an-hour remote reservations specialist position with Hilton.
I did my research, as usual. I looked up reviews from current and past employees. I already knew in my mind why I wanted Hilton: The work from home aspect was ideal since I don’t drive; I want to work for a company that I know has staying power so I have confidence that my job won’t just disappear; and it would be nice to have a discount at a hotel chain, as much as me and my family like to travel. I was very confident that I did well on my virtual interview and I was quite surprised when they turned me down.
Old Stephanie bristled at the notion that me with my dang near twenty years of experience dealing with customers; adapting to new work processes and technologies; securing positions of leadership in each job; AND having a Master’s degree wasn’t good enough to answer phones for the flipping Hilton and help people with reservations, and I was highly tempted to email them back and tell them F YOU. I seriously had to remove myself from the computer before I did just that–I got that angry.
I am tired of the rat-race of finding a job, and I reminded myself of a promise I made myself awhile ago–to not go and beg ANYBODY for a job for this very reason alone. But I need some way to dig myself out of the hole I’m currently in, and that is why I’m willing to downgrade MYSELF. I would much rather get my real estate license and sell homes, but can’t do that WITHOUT A LICENSE to get to the homes. I’m trying to get ahead, but it seems like no one will let me, and for that I am extraordinarily angry. I don’t want anyone to give me anything, but then no one wants to let me earn it. In the past five years I’ve been turned down for hundreds of jobs. I’m sure there are people more qualified than me, but good God how am I supposed to get ahead when I can’t even get a START?
I’ve noticed a lot of articles that made me even angrier about this whole job search thing. At one point in time, it was considered courteous to send thank-you notes after an interview. That’s what I was taught to do. Now I read that HR professionals view them as desperate and tacky. Interviewers also judge you based on whether or not your handshake is firm–what if with my health problems I can’t firmly grip your hand? Does that mean I’m automatically disqualified from a job??? I also saw that some interviewers don’t like for a candidate to display too much confidence… but that confuses me as well. If I am trying to sell myself, shouldn’t I do so with confidence??? What the heck do these people really want?
I wonder if my honesty gets me in trouble. One of the Hilton questions asked if I’d had a job where I was required to meet certain metrics and if I did so. I answered honestly using an example from my most recent job as a medical receptionist. Our goal as receptionists was to answer each call before it rang three times at least 80% of the time. I did not always meet that goal. But should I have also said that I was supposed to get that phone in addition to checking patients in and out, scheduling appointments, and helping coworkers? I pride myself on being truthful in interviews, on my resume and applications. And I kind of think that’s where I’m going wrong.
In order to quench my anger, I had to go to God. Again I’m trying to figure out what it is that He is trying to teach me or prepare me for. Why is it that He is allowing me to go through these financial troubles when He sees me trying to find ways to dig myself out? Honestly I’m not sure what His answer is at that point. Part of me wants to believe that the lesson here is that I should stop limiting myself to jobs that are–yes, HILTON–a DOWNGRADE on my experience, skills and education. Maybe I shouldn’t have reneged on my promise to find a way to make my own job, a promise I made myself at the receptionist job when my so-called manager LIED on my performance review and denied me a raise. So now I am even more focused on getting this book finished and submitted, and perfecting these cheesecake recipes.
I will admit that I am still angry. More than that, my feelings are hurt by people continuing to use a piece of paper and few barebones questions to decide I am not good enough for their organization as hard as I have worked to make myself marketable. I’ll pray some more and just try to remind myself of a few facts: I have always been confident in my own abilities whereas my confidence has to be rooted in God, so maybe this is a humbling experience; when something doesn’t go my way, there’s always a reason, and per my past experience it is because God has something better in store; and in the meantime I need to make use of this valuable time (I would love to do more volunteer work if I could DRIVE) and be patient.
Only problem: Patience is not now and never has been my strong suit. 🙂