Month: April 2018

The Joke Is On Us, Revisited

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Apparently Intern Leah’s marketing of herself as a thing is not an exception but a common method of trying to find work in this Age of Austerity.

In 2014, I wrote on my job-search blog the following article. It featured a job-seeking young intern named Leah presenting herself on her CV as a Lego block figurine. While some people thought this was a creatively good idea, it did not sit well with me. I got the impression that Leah was trying to advertise herself in the same way a company makes marketing ads for a product.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand you have to get yourself noticed in the job search. I’ve been looking for full-time work in this Age of Austerity for eight years now and discovered jobs are harder to come by. The only way a potential employer will ask me to come in for an interview is if something about myself stands out. The line in the sand I draw is getting down to the level of portraying myself as some sort of product. As stated in that blog post, “I’m not a consumable product or service….I’m a person with feelings, ambitions, desires, and opinions”. The Lego block version of me you saw was done as a gag. Don’t expect to see it on any of my CVs any time soon.

I haven’t thought about that blog post again until I came across YouTube superstar Dave Cullen’s (Computing Forever) video about selfies. During one point of that video, he mentioned the corporate world demands we sell ourselves during an interview and remarked it was a form of “corporate prostitution”. Not only was it bang on, it also prompted me to revisit the subject of my 2014 blog post.

As an experiment, I did a Google Search using the words “Creative CVs” and the returned result horrified me.

Apparently Leah’s approach is no longer an exception but a growing trend for job-seekers. There were hundreds — yes, hundreds — of examples similar to hers. The following is just a tiny sample of what I found online:

Two graphics designers, one marketing himself as a pack of beer and the other a Swiss Army Knife.

A marketing professional marketing himself as a chocolate bar right down to itemizing his qualifications as ingredients.

A business professional marketing himself as a newspaper.

And probably not one of the most media friendly way to market oneself, with the bad press the tobacco industry is getting, a pack of cigarettes. Yes, that’s right: cancer sticks.

Appalling. Is this the level  job-seekers must stoop to in order to find employment in this jobless recovery?

Must job-seekers demean and dehumanize themselves through their self-promotion to the point of becoming a thing, a consumable on an expense report like toilet paper and coffee?

Must job-seekers perform like trained dolphins in order to land employment?

Has the job search become a Hellish game of flaming hoops to jump through?

Do we now need the skill of an artist or stage show producer to get a hiring manager’s attention for something as banal as a shelf-stocker job? Don’t dismiss my point. It would certainly explain nonsense like this I come across on a regular basis in my job search.

Most important, why are we doing this to ourselves? Is our pride, our identity, worth landing a paycheque? Why can’t anyone see how wrong this is!

Thanks for reading!

David.

Hailing Frequencies Open.

The Social Media Microphone
Social Media gives anyone the ability to reach out to their elected individuals and express a concern, as I have done with Regional Councillor Galloway. Having said this, there are limits to be considered.

WARNING: COARSE LANGUAGE.

Given a choice, I would rather be working full-time with benefits than working part-time-to-not at all.

If there any “look on the bright side, David” aspects to the situation I am in now, the one thing I was able to find was it’s happening to me in the Age Of Social Media.

Had this happened to me in say the 1990s or even the 1980s, my ability to make my situation known and public would have been a lot harder.

During that time period, there was no consumer level access to the Internet. The best one could hope for was bulletin board systems (BBSes) linked together via FidoNet. Government and corporations would certainly not be using that infrastructure. It was the domain of the computer geek. I should know: I once ran a two-line Spitfire software bulletin board that had its own FidoNet node number.

In those days, if I had an issue with something going on in my city, I would either have to call the appropriate level of government by phone, or write a letter and wait for a response that could be weeks if not months later.

Today, social media makes such communications with elected officials both faster and easier. In the screenshot above, a regional councilmember of Waterloo proudly tweeted the construction of the tallest condominium building in Kitchener. Since affordable housing has been my favourite drum to bang over the last few years, especially since I just got out of a homeless shelter recently, I sent a reply tweet. I made a point about the lack of affordable housing in the Region, and how hard it was for men in the House Of Friendship to find an affordable place to stay in order to return to stable housing.

After sending the tweet, I thought to myself how different it would be… and more difficult…to do what I just did without social media. I would probably hear about the announcement on TV, the radio, or in the newspaper 12 to 24 hours after it was announced. Assuming I did not have the councillor’s telephone number handy, I would have to look it up in a phonebook, dial the number, and leave a message with the frontline staff who would — at their discretion — either pass on that message to the councillor, or  decide I’m some anti-poverty kook and file it under “T”….for “Trash”. Sending a letter would take a lot longer, involve more effort and likely garner the same result.

Sending my tweet reply to the councillor took just a few minutes.

Social media is a valuable tool for those living in poverty or even homeless. It’s simple to use and free to access. It gives anyone, regardless of class or income, the power to contact their elected officials in real-time to express a concern that needs fixing.

Having said this, it’s not a magic wand that grants great power to the welder nor guarantees the fix will be made.

Mr. Galloway has heard from me at least four times in the past year, and I’ve yet to get a response back about my concerns. That’s his prerogative and right. He might be elected to serve the people but he’s not my slave. There’s also the possibility he looked at my tweet, sighed, “that anti-poverty kook again”and filed it under “T” for “Trash” without needing his staff to do it for him. His agenda and mine might not be compatible, so there’s nothing I can do to change his mind. The best I can hope for is to at least try, and failing that, at least I got something immediately off my chest.

This leads to another point. When I first read his announcement, I was annoyed at the fact that once again the Region was pandering to the wealthy professional and not the more vulnerable members of society. Before sending my tweet, I got up from my desk at the library to get a drink of water. This allowed me time to cool down and compose a tweet that was direct, but not rude or disrespectful. I even attached a link I felt would better explain my concerns about affordable housing.

Social media does not give me the right to behave like an asshole towards anyone, nor should I expect it to solve my problems instantly.

Issues like unemployment, poverty, and homelessness won’t be fixed by a tweet. It will only be addressed by those who understand what the problem is and know what to do about it. This has always been the case before the creation of social media, and holds even more true in the digital world we live in now.

Thanks for reading!

David.