3/10/2017 17:29

How To Get a Job

The middle school students were preparing for mock job interviews and the middle school teachers were carefully parrotting the advice of so many consultants: Wear funny clothes. Hide funny jewelry. Talk about things that don't interest you. In short, try to appear to be somebody you aren't and never wanted to be.

This advice is all just common sense. It's what everybody thinks. This is the game you have to play to get a job.

After all, you already know that you are worthless as a human being and less than worthless as a potential employee. Therefore, the better and more completely you can hide your true self, the more likely an employer will be sufficiently deceived. Abnegate your self identity, eviscerate your individuality, become a pale, phantasmic imitation of the common illusion of the ideal applicant.

Remember that what an employer wants is to be utterly fooled. This is known as showing respect to a potential employer. The best emulator is always the successful candidate. Employers have to hire somebody, so you need to permit the illusion they are hiring that vacuity which everybody knows is the ideal. Time enough for employer's regret after you have accepted the position and the employer is depending on having a warm body appear at the jobsite. Hopefully they'll accept whoever you really are for longer than the initial trial period.

Except in actual reality.

When I was looking for my first job after graduating from college I began to worry that some of this advice might be true. Finding that first job did take about three months. After that I was never fired, never laid off, never unemployed until I willfully walked away on my own initiative. I never followed the common sense advice for getting a job.

I've had a couple of interviews where the employer held to some of those common sense ideas. One of them was even offering good money and a bit of prestige. I walked away from that one muttering, "Their business plan is to eliminate skilled people like me." (Fifteen years later, "In 1993, IBM posted a US$8 billion loss -- at the time the biggest in American corporate history." I don't say that these facts were causally related.)

The other interview had developed into an unfocused, all-day process. I walked out in the middle. I told the company, "You clearly are not looking for someone with my skills."

In actual reality employers are desperate for someone to stand out, to be different from the other applicants and to be confident in that difference. In actual reality hardly any employer knows what they need in a new employee. The better employers are willing to listen to good suggestions. The best candidate is the one who will tell the employer, "What you need is me. This is what I'll do for you. Here is why you want me to do that for you. And when you sit down to review the candidates for this position, you are going to remember me."