On July 4th, 2012, One Voice Canada (a job placement centre that just opened up behind the Tim Horton’s I frequenty haunt) featured a seminar hosted by a certified image consultant. For a registration fee of $20, the participant will, among other things, learn to “dress appropriately with elegance and professionalism”, “get your point across using effective body language”, and will become “a compelling communicator and experience higher productivity”.
Now, I’m not taking a swipe at the placement centre. I know what they are trying to do with this seminar. I know their hearts and intentions are in the right place. They want to help people find work by offering this option to consider. Nevertheless. after taking a look at the certified image consultant (who is indeed attractive, confident, and professional in her appearance), I took a pass at registering.
It wasn’t the $20 fee that put me off (though it could be argued that amount of money can cover the cost of paper to print resumes, transit fare to interviews, and dry-cleaning to keep my suit spick-and-span). What tweaked me the wrong way was how looking for a job has devolved into something out of a television reality show. It’s now about style and flash over substance and quality. Instead of demonstrating why your past work experience and skills make you the ideal candidate for the position, an interview is now a commercial. I’m supposed to market myself like I’m some sort of appliance or product using “action words”. David Gay, Version Whatever Point Oh! Now With 20% More Debugging Power! Guaranteed To Stamp Out Those Hard To Reach Logic Bugs, Or Your Money Back!
I’m a “Deeds Speak” person. The reason why I lasted 20 years in the IT field was because I delivered what was required of me. People I worked with during that time respected me for the work I did on the job, not the way I looked on the job. My resume is a chronicle of what I accomplished and why I’m so proud of what I put down on paper. I don’t want to go down the path where I have to consider a hair weave, aesthetic dental work, botox, and shopping at Harry Rosen to glam myself into a job. That’s the line in the sand I refuse to cross.
Having said that, I’ll admit that line was not always in the same place in the sand since my job search started January 2010. In the first year, I focused on applying for IT jobs and would never have considered anything outside that. That changed when I started to send a generalized resume to entry-level positions that were not in the IT field. I was told by colleagues that I was hurting my career if I considered leaving IT just for the sake of getting a job, but I was comfortable adjusting where that line was drawn. It was my decision. I used to stick to looking for work through newspapers, headhunters, and job-search engines like Workopolis. Now I include buy-and-sell places (Kijiji and Craigslist) and pound the pavement as part of my job search strategy.
That line hasn’t stopped moving. As you can see in the image embedded in the blog, I recently filled out a Wal-Mart application form both in the store and online for any openings there. I like shopping there and think Wal-Mart does a lot more good than people give it credit for (getting involved in relief efforts being an admirable example), but I never considered myself a retail person. Apparently my opinion has changed if I applied there.
Oh yes…I also shaved off my beard to give a sharp clean impression at interviews. In my twenties, I started growing a beard to add some ruggedness to my round anime-like face and would have never considered shaving it off. The line moved again.
I doubt that un-crossable line will move to the point where I will become a metrosexual to get a job. But it did give me reason to pause to ask myself, “Has the job search started undoing the foundations of what I believe as a person? Am I becoming someone else, no longer me, for the sake of a job?”
Thankfully, I found that’s not the case. All that has happened is that I’ve become more aware of the evolution of self over time. Just as nature’s evolution is shaped by outside events, my aspirations on what type of work I wanted to do changed, based what I faced ahead of me. That’s fine. I’m not the same person I was when I was 30, 20, or even a teenager. My interest in music has changed over the years. The political party I voted for never remained the same. I used to like watching baseball, now I could care less. I once though poetry was too artsy, now I like reading and writing poetry.
To close this blog entry, I’d like to share with you a great quotation a friend Emailed to me. It best describes why the re-evaluation of self is not necessary a bad thing:
“The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.”
W. E. B. Du Bois
Thanks for reading!