Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Employment: Very unlikely - Not likely - Likely - Somewhat likely - Very likely

Well, here I am, about to interview for a tech writing position tomorrow.

It's been a while since I've been a regular part of the work force. I had a temp job last year that only lasted a week and a half. Prior to that there was a summer job I had to wake up at 4:00 in the morning to get to, to walk 2.5 miles to spend the entire day building up pallets of dog food and other items to be shipped to pet stores. After all that was done I'd walk the same span back in the midday heat. All for $9 an hour. That only lasted about three months though, and I'm still alive.

And in the meantime I've either been in school or writing for free or as near to free as possible that the amounts make no difference. And I've sent out resumes to libraries and newspapers and companies that publish maps and phone books and books and literature and pamphlets all to no real gain. And the black-dust warehouses I'd worked in prior don't want a thirty-year old with a BA in English, for fear that I'd jump ship when a better job came along.

It's all kind of frustrating.

I can deal with being turned down for a job, I think the worst part of it is not knowing how to traverse the application circus. Parts of the process seem to have gotten so convoluted that I'd be amazed if they still served the purpose they intended. For instance, who in their right mind, when confronted by a sequence of five empty bubbles, is going to fill in the one indicating that they're "somewhat likely to steal"?

Or to put it another way, a person applying for a job with significant social interaction is "very unlikely" to put down that they are "very likely" going to be afraid of any sort of socialization. In fact, nobody is going to bubble in anything that damages their chances at employment. Such tests only serve to make it "very likely" that you'll be lying to your employer from day one; they actively encourage dishonesty and serve to make that another aspect of the employee/employer relationship. That's not to mention the inherently baffling notion that you "likely" know what you'll do in a given situation, without context.

I found my last job through Careerbuilder. I'm not sure if it was always this way, but it seems like half the listings there now are for MLM schemes and work that promises to pay you big bucks to work at home, like some apparently now rich housewife is doing.

But the worst of it is how muddled and arbitrary the language of these listings have gotten. I clicked the first result I saw on the Careerbuilder home page and was rewarded with the following text.

Job Summary

Working with the Learning Services Manager to deliver select presales services and manage implementations of company offerings with corporate clients. The LSPM role requires strong project management and customer facing skills, a professional services mindset, passion for the leadership and management development space, and sureness with technology enabled and learning solutions. Will participate in the presales process to position the company’s leadership development capabilities. Will project manage client implementations and serve as an internal project lead for a variety of projects.

What to make of this? What is "strong" project management? What are "customer facing skills"? Presumably this just means knowing how to talk to people, keep them happy and keep them coming back to your service, company or what have you. But it's made indistinct by a haze of professional speech.I can't even figure out what exactly it is I'd be doing here, and that seems bad for finding potential candidates. Maybe I've never helped "position the company's leadership development capabilities," but I've helped "allocate the company's management training potential." Is that the same thing? Damned if I know.

Clarity is key. It probably sounds less glorious or impressive to just point me to my desk and tell me to fill out that form that gets us more paper clips, but that's all I really need to know to do my job.

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