This is a quick update about what is happening on the employment front. I’m still working a part time job. Not exactly happy about that. I had an interview with a local company. They told me at the outset that normally they wouldn’t consider me for the position because they thought I was overqualified. Funny, I’m not overqualified to eat, pay taxes or buy expensive health insurance, but I digress.
So, anyway, I think I see what they mean. Someone else told me today that when I talk about my former work in structural biology and drug design, my whole demeanor and cadence changes. Twenty years in research will do that to you while you’re not paying attention. I might not have a PhD, but I sound like one. The position I interviewed for was fairly low level, because that’s what your options are when you are over 45 and don’t have a PhD even if you sound like one. The interviewers all told me they hoped I would find something more appropriate to my qualifications. Ok, thanks for that. I just spent a ton of money on this interview suit. Lovely.
Then a surprising thing happened. I’ll go into it a bit more when the dust has settled but let’s just say that I am relying on the kindness of strangers right now to help me find a job. (I thank you profoundly, whoever you are) I didn’t realize how horrifying the last couple of years actually were until I saw the blood drain from the faces of a couple of people who listened to my saga after they brought me in for quite a different kind of interview. Yep, it really has been that bad. But when you’re in the middle of it, it’s just like rolling with the punches. I’m in my own floating world.
So, I have been learning how to update my LinkedIn account, spiff up my resume, network with everybody. It’s like a crash course inside the HR machine and some of it is not pretty. Here’s what I learned today:
- New Times Roman will make you look oooooolllllldd. Calibri is now the font of choice to make you look younger.
- For gawd’s sakes, dump your aol email address. (Ha! Doesn’t apply to me but I know what they’re saying.)
- Believe it or not, there are young, callous recruiters in some HR departments that take great pleasure in rejecting a resume simply because the periods at the ends of sentences are followed by two spaces. OLD people use two spaces; young, attractive people use one space.
- You may have to get up in the middle of the night to apply for jobs. That’s because with so many resumes for each position, HR staff have decided to look at the first 50 resumes. Anything more than that will be rejected. Yes, you may be the perfect person for the job but if you are unlucky number 51, you are SOL. So, figure out when the server refreshes the job database and apply at 12:01AM. You may have to reformat your resume at this time of the morning as well. Them’s the breaks.
I just had to ask the presenter of these toothsome tidbits why it is that there are up to 500 resumes per open position if the unemployment rate is almost down to pre-financial catastrophe level according to all the news and stuff. Shouldn’t the number be tapering off if more people are employed? She told me that employers are now regularly churning their workforce. They are always laying off a great number of staff and rehiring shiny new people to replace them. This happens among the bigger companies with more frequency.
That doesn’t make any sense.
Or does it?
On the one hand, it’s very reminiscent of the finance industry where job flexibility (that is, YOUR flexibility) is highly desirable. You are expected to lose your job on a regular basis during constant restructuring. Business school grads plan for it. i guess they like living on the edge. But it means that it is almost impossible to gain any meaningful experience, except in job hunting all the time. I’m trying to see the up side in this but it is eluding me. We are seeing financial industry employment styles and values trickling down everywhere. It was getting to be ridiculous when it infiltrated the pharma industry. In the research area, where continuity and experience really are very important, it has created a lot of havoc. But when the trend expands to the general workforce that doesn’t work for ginormous end-of-the-year bonuses like the kind you get on Wall Street, the damage it creates can be even more dire. Who is going to invest in a house, car, kids when they know that their next paycheck could be their last for a long time? And don’t even get me started on the stress that constant uncertainty brings.
What we are seeing here is an artificially created employment crisis. It’s constant. It’s bound to continue to erode wages, benefits and working environment. It serves no useful purpose for the employer in the end except where it applies to the short term bottom line, and it’s going to continue to depress the economy.
You can’t make plans, spend money or have a life if you’re in a perpetual floating world.