Today’s post points toward a column, written by the well-known Barbara Ehrenreich, on another uniquely American sham: That job-hunting is your new job. So get to it. (Incidentally, Ehrenreich — aside from being the most well-known author and critic on the nature of the workplace in modern America, is the public face of United Professionals, an “advocacy group to protect and preserve the American middle class.”)
It’s here — entitled “Trying to Find a Job is Not a Job.”
It encapsulates the concept — mentioned briefly here about a year ago — that Americans have been manipulated into accepting as true all sorts of rubbish about employment and their lack of it. Like: It’s your fault if you don’t have a job; your lack of skills made you obsolete; you aren’t looking hard enough for a job, you must make yourself over into a job-hunting machine; you have to go back to school many times in your life to keep yourself hep and fresh in the marketplace, and most off all, repeat it again and again — IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT WORKING HARD ENOUGH, YOU WEAK SOD!
In a way, it boils down to a novel solution to the problem mass unemployment poses for national security. If the populace is being thrown out of work en masse, and it’s perceived to be the fault of leaders (rather than the people themselves), chances are they might think of going into the street in social protest. Such protests could become more virulent. They could bring down the government, or at least change it during the burning of things. Or also bring about some public facsimile of tarring and feathering for the geniuses at Goldman Sachs, AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, etc.
Instead, because most people buy into the sham, what we get is everyone just sitting at home. Perhaps all Twittering or Facebooking away in hope that a social network of strangers will dispense mercy upon them.
Journalists from business and employment sections have actually said it was good to do this. Really. See here at “Getting Fired is Now Fun.”
Or everyone can upload endless variations of their resumes to Monster or Careerbuilder because it’s been said that this must be done, along with 450 million others and one must have, oh — say, five or six, ten or maybe more different resumes to cover every contingency. And don’t forget to re-write that thing from scratch the next time you upload.
“In America, being unemployed doesn’t mean you have nothing to do but run around burning police cars,” Ehrenreich writes. “Unemployment has been reconfigured as a new form of work.”
Part of your new job is guessing what your future job ought to be. Or failing that, listening to other people, shamming as experts and asking for money, telling you what it ought to be. Then you can run off to a continuing education course or Pasadena City College, or enroll in an on-line diploma mill, and after a year get a chit or certificate in something which you were told will get you a job. And then it won’t. But that’s because you guessed wrong or were lazy or something. Do not pass “Go,” do not collect $200. Go directly to jail.
From January of 2008 of last year, when things were beginning to look dicey, DD requotes from here on “Preparing for Your Dream Job.” That’s from the old blog, the one that can’t be updated because Google Blogger fell over and crushed me.
Want to know the secret of landing your dream job? Making yourself over as a hardened job-hunting machine.
Victoria Secret has figured this out. She’s still in college at UCLA, but an up-and-coming striver, hustling to land a position in the entertainment industry. She has interned with Sony, worked pro bono one year for Walt Disney Outreach and spends nights thinking up slogans and jingles for the Bruin Ad Team, UCLA’s student run advertising team.
Secret is a skilled networker. She e-mails everyone she knows or has ever known who is still in the labor force, letting them know her talents and job interests. And she hands out business cards during her part-time job as a campus sales rep for a PC company.
Secret reviews her resume every month. You should too. “It’s a constant work in progress, like your life.”
Getting hired is all about doggedness, focus and learning to leverage contacts. No one gets anything worthwhile in the 2008 United States of America without being able to call in favors. If you haven’t got faint acquaintances who can assist in getting your foot in the door somewhere, this country is a grim place. If you’re not a persuasive bootlick, your prospects are nil.
You’ve got to throw yourself out there, reaching for any hands or legs there are to be grasped. If you can’t do that, you’ll face rejection again and again.
Here are several things you should do:
Post your resume on-line
You should buy high-quality paper and fresh ink for your printer. In these desperate days, some employers want to have the feel of a good piece of bond in their hands even as they’re tossing it into the trash in favor of the name of someone passed to them by a co-worker or superior. In the meantime, accept that there are virtues to going digital — those being that it’s easy, fast and puts you in a nice position of being immediately accessible, along with the 250 million other people who posted their resumes on-line.
Monster.com, for example, lists hundreds of thousands of jobs in virtually every category and works with 90 percent of the Fortune 1000 companies. To sift them, you’d have to be a machine. And while you are not as capable as such a machine, you must strive to be as machine-like as possible in your on-line search for a job. If you cannot be a ruthless job-hunting machine, you will fail and entropy — the dissolving of everything into nothing — will invade your life.
Other on-line sites target specific fields like jobsforandinmoneymoneymoney.com focusing on accounting and financialization services, annoyingcomputerjobs.com on the obvious, and opportunityknocksbutnotforyou.org, for employment at subsistence wages in the world of nonprofits.
Since there are so many resumes on-line you have about as good a chance at landing something decent as winning a raffle. Have you ever won anything worthwhile in a raffle? That gift certificate to Macy’s doesn’t count.
Apply directly to a company, on-line and off
Many companies post opening on their websites, but responding blind could land your application in a black hole, says Rory Kaplatt, founder of Rory Kaplatt & Associates, a Pasadena search firm. Do it the old-fashioned way: “Get the name of someone and write to that person.”
Everyone knows corporate office-workers and administrators look forward to getting unsolicited mail from desperate people they don’t know. You can check the company’s dumpster for your cover letter and resume a couple of days after you mailed it, if you’re job searching locally. This will allow you to informally keep tabs on the progress of your search. The technique is called “dumpster diving.”
Tap the hidden job-market — plead with your friends
Tell relatives, friends, friends of friends, trusted colleagues — everyone you meet during the day’s travels. Consider hiring a spambot to broadcast your need for a job. Maybe you can even get a job as a spam bot. Now more than ever, blog software employs special visual authentication traps. And so there’s a great need for jobs in which people work in a windowless room, for almost nothing, logging onto blogs, about five or six a minute, to manually upload spam and sales pitches into the comments section.
Anyway, you’re on a job hunt and only by being a ruthless machine will you succeed. For all the sweep of the Internet, only a machine-like focus will do. You must scour the Internet and shakedown your friends, even at the risk of alienating them. If you don’t know about a position, you can’t apply for it. And if you can’t find that job, your friends and everyone else will not want to know you, anyway. When you reach that critical point, which will be soon, your job search will collapse into a black hole. And after six months in the black hole of failed job search, you will be hardcore unemployable.
So you see why you must always be a ruthless job-searching machine. Do not flinch or shirk in this duty.
Being a ruthless job-searching machine worked for Diana. She started with a computer search to build a list of companies where she might want to work and wrote directly to people at each specifying the type of job she hoped to find. You can imagine how that went. The employers didn’t have any openings, but her job-hunting machine routine made such an impression that one eventually found a place for her. The 20-something Los Angeles woman doesn’t want to use her full name because that job wasn’t really a great job. In fact, she’s out of that job and hunting for a new one and if someone sees her name on-line in one of the firms she’s targetting, it won’t be good for the image.
Polish your resume — burnish your credentials, everyone else does
Putting your best self into pixels is a craft “that has to be mastered,” says Richard Bolles, author of the job-hunter’s bible, “Your Arbeit Will Set Your Free.” Job-hunting first-timers and veterans can find plenty of resume tips in the book, as well as on major job search sites. You should be spending at least two hours each day reading up, but in case you can’t get there today, here are some rules of thumb:
1. Be specific. Instead of saying “worked in a retail setting at the strip mall,” try “trained and supervised ten employees, one of whom went on to be a doctor, and handled payroll and purchasing in a firm with annual sales of $20 million.” No one can check or know how much places in strip malls pass in cash or if your co-workers were actually high school drop-outs and community college students.
2. One size does not fit all. Employers expect your resume to clearly show why you fit their specific opening, even if they don’t know what they want in an employee. This presents you with a dilemma. To be successful, you must be a ruthless resume-reworking machine, re-editing your vitals for finicky people whose nature you can only make wild guesses about. As crushing as it sounds, for every job application that you make, you must make a custom rewrite of your resume.
3. Typos or grammatical errors will route your resume into the trash. On the other hand, consider a rigorously spell-checked and elegantly composed resume in the hands of a prospective employer. Think of the e-mails you’ve received from your older college-educated acquaintances now in the corporate workplace. Recall the communications you occasionally get from said-to-be-important people in corporate America at your blog. Now do you really think having a resume that’s grammatical and well written is going to help that much? Come now, it could just as well have the opposite effect, pissing off a reader who gets it into their head you’re probably one of those who thinks they’re smarter than everyone else. So go ahead, make some mistakes. It’s all headed for the trash anyway.
Prepare for the interview — and brush your teeth
Spend time on the company’s website, even if it’s unusable. Check out their annual report and commit to memory the pack of lies that passes for their page of recent press releases. Be prepared to explain why you want the job and when asked what your biggest fault is as a worker, be able to convincingly explain how youve made it into your strongest asset, even though it’s not true. Try to convey the impression that you would give up any prospects for a social life outside work hours and that you might possibly even break the law, if that’s what is necessary to get that job done.
Be sure you come to the interview in a good-looking car or SUV. Make sure it’s clean and shiny. Everyone in America judges the worth of others, whether they admit it or not, by the size and condition of their vehicles. Employers are no different. If you have to, lease a car you can’t hope to afford. You can always declare bankruptcy and get hopelessly in arears later.
Shake hands with any prospective employer. Extend your arm, grasp the hand of the person you are greeting firmly but not crushingly. Don’t go limp. And don’t, don’t, don’t have a sweaty palm. Dry your hand thoroughly with some tissue paper before the interview.
Final resort: Study to become a public example
This involves emulating what some people do in the cities of Europe and Pakistan, environs where there are lots of young men, children of immigrants, who have no realistic hope of bettering their life.
Start hanging around on websites which cater to the distribution of texts advocating violent overthrow. Download all the texts on making poisons you can find on the Internet. Add some more on improvised home-made explosives.
Contact your local white Christian Minutemen or al Qaeda self-improvement and re-employment group.
Related: Bed Pan Training Schools Rejoice.