I hate the world today

I’m so annoyed at my field today. Another good, senior, creative and ambitious worker got met with the same fate I did. I could just go back to sleep, in protest. (I do a lot of sleeping these days.)

And yet, quasi-competent people (who cost a lot less) are moving and grooving just fine. The hell?

When I was fresh out of school, no one wanted to take a chance on me. Of course, it was Pittsburgh, where people die at their desks because it costs less to keep ineffective people than to buy them out and inject some fresh blood.

My, how times have changed.

The reason I even know all the gossip today is because that’s what my mornings are dedicated to — finding out who’s doing what, and seeing if they can share some of the love. And I followed up on a lead only to find that my contact is sitting in the not-employed line, too, and it was a complete surprise as well.

(*humming “Where Does all the Talent Go?” to the tune of “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?”*)

I’m trying hard to not work, if that makes sense. To not get married to my next gig without at least living together first. And as I perused one of my favorite blogs (Evil HR Lady), I came across an article that reminded me of years ago, and made me cringe: Job Interview or Bake-off?.

In short, there are people who make you tap-dance your way through the interview process by asking you to DO THEIR WORK for them. Which, in my field, it’s not unheard-of to have to write a sample article or edit a sample piece. The more-ethical among us either use previously published works or stuff that will never see the light of day.

I remember, though, circa 2004, I applied for an editorial job with an engineering group. They sent me an article they were planning to use in their next magazine. I was given a half-day to turn it around.

Two and a half days later, I had shredded the shit out of that horrible piece — WHICH WAS 23 TYPED PAGES. The tracked changes looked like a wounded animal had died on my screen.

I had already gone through two interviews at this point and was a finalist. I have no fucking clue who could have beaten me in this editorial “contest.” Perhaps it was the fact that I spent far too much time with it that cost me my candidacy. Or maybe their widdle feelings were hurt that I basically took government cheese and whipped it into as tasty a fondue as I could manage.

I never did see the final printed version of that POS article. But I have often wondered whether they used my edit and didn’t pay me for it.

The woman was a hoo-ha anyway. She had fired the prior editor after a month, and wasn’t exactly pleasant in general. And the subject matter was God-bloody-awful. In truth, it was a blessing to be out of the running. But that’s also hard to accept when you’re willing to take any job just to prevent pending homelessness.

That being said, as yet another of my compadres is looking for the next rent payment, I do see the value in doing some dating before you jump into bed with a virtual stranger. Interviews are a joke. You sell the best version of yourself that fits their needs, and they sell you the non-crazy version of their dysfunctional family.

I mean, how many times did you walk into an interview with, say, a man and a woman, and you expected that this would be the team you’re on? How are you to know that some nameless, faceless entity in another state is going to have the say-so in your livelihood and that one of the people who sold you on the position (who you were really looking forward to working with) isn’t actually going to be there after you arrive?

In my friend’s case, it involved a very expensive, self-financed relocation. In my case, well, I kind of like where I ended up geographically, but I’d probably fare better on the employment front had I not left the nation’s best job market in the first place.

But maybe if more would-be employers would toss a sample (PAID) assignment to the candidate, I’ll bet that would do a lot to prevent bad career moves and even worse partings-of-ways.

I have to say, though, the most-aggravating interview process was at the job I loved the most. I spent DAYS with those people. I met EVERYONE. Even people who would only be peripheral to my day. I was even scratching my head, wondering whether they trotted out the most-offensive characters just for fun. (They did.)

The editing test blew me away, but after I’d spent days with the cast of characters — not to mention that horrible editing fiasco for the engineering company — I did a very simple, thorough line edit with my suggestions and questions in comment bubbles. I wanted that job badly enough, based on the people and the promised duties, that I was willing to deal with their wacky editorial. (Which was previously published and I got the raw version. Bonus points for the ethical approach!)

In any case, I realize the liability of taking on a new employee goes beyond financial considerations. You want them to be able to do the work, and to bring their creativity. The problem is, it’s easier for the candidate to bring it than for the new hire to keep it after they’ve gotten a whiff of the way things really work.

Which is why I’m not keen on relocating. It’s one thing to move to paradise (where I live now) but if you tell me my dream job is on a potato farm in Idaho, I respectfully decline to hear more about the mere notion of it. That’s all anybody needs, to move to their own private hell and then lose the meal ticket that made it palatable in the first place.

Anywho, my prayers are with my friend today. That wind-knocked-out-of-you feeling is awful. I hope we can start something up ourselves and not even have to worry about moments like this ever again.

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