I’ve posted before about ridiculous job ads that I’ve found in my search for a new job. We’ve all seen Hamilton Nolan’s Unemployment Stories feature on Gawker so we know how bad things can get. Yet the way that job searches are conducted these days seems so horribly unfair and monolithic that it really is no surprise that true clinical depression seems to be far more commonplace these days.
In the past you’d go around to places and leave your resume. You could fill out paper applications and leave them with the person in charge of hiring. You’d look online and contact companies that were hiring. Now you search CraigsList or Monster or Indeed and see multitudes of listings that you now must untangle to see if any of them meet your needs. Most don’t list compensation so you’re blindly applying and hoping they’ll pay a decent wage or your minimum. Many on CraigsList don’t tell you what company has posted the ad so there’s no way to do research. Job boards are cluttered by recruiter spam or work from home scams. Then when you finally settle on applying to a, hopefully, real ad you have more hurdles to cross.
You’re sending your resume and online applications into a bunch of software or bloated inboxes. That PDF you sent might reach a human being but so did 300 others. Yours, no matter how special it may be, will likely be overlooked simply because there are just too many. That application you spent an hour clicking bubbles in on an inane personality test online? Filtered through software that likely took you out of the process without a human ever seeing it. We now blindly send out information with the hope that we might just receive a rejection letter to know that something actually made it across.
Though to even get to that stage you need to actually find something you qualify for. This morning I found another ad that was somewhat silly. A 3-month, non-employee contract assistant job at a Very Well Known Mouse Mascot Entertainment Company’s game division. It required 3 years minimum of assisting high level tech executives. That means you spent 3 years of your life assisting the top people in a very hot industry in order to become a non-employee at a well known but very mediocre games company with an option to have the contract extended. Doesn’t quite seem fair if you worked for the top but the Mouse says you’re barely enough to assist the people making mobile games.
And yet the tech industry seems to be exactly that. Contract jobs with no real option to become a true employee. Everyone sees the tech industry as some sort of cure all for unemployment. But what if your contract isn’t renewed? What if the project you’re on is canceled? Google shut down Reader and where do you think those workers went? And working for such well known and high tech places may look great on your resume but can your year or two there as a contractor get you over the walls of overblown cover letters and resumes? What about the filters of the online application? It’s a resounding maybe. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be seen any better than the person who has 5 years experience or the person who has the Masters degree in something.
These days you either have to get lucky or know someone who knows someone. Gone are the days where you could get an interview and try to prove your skills to an employer so they could truly evaluate you. Gone are the opportunities to be trained because employers want you to come in trained by someone else. It’s all about arbitrary years of experience doing general mundane tasks in order to get an entry-level position. The job search is now itself a full time job that leads mostly to complete silence from where you’re applying. Often times it’s simply due to the fact that hundreds of people applied to what you’ve applied to. Most people wouldn’t understand how this process could lead to incredibly lowered senses of self worth and hope because these days it seems that self esteem is a bad thing. Yet for those of us who struggle to find an actual career and try to find something we’re good at, it’s all we have left. So when we’re shot down by that silence or the overwhelming odds of being accepted into an entry position it hurts and leads to the downward spiral that so many have reached.
I, for one, still don’t know how to fix it.