Friday, October 24, 2008

Marginally Competent Office Schmuck

(Originally posted on MySpace)

As most of you know, I don't have a job. Over the summer, the university where I was employed didn't renew my contract. I was not surprised as I had more or less come to the conclusion that finishing my dissertation was not in the cards or in my heart. Over the summer, I began my job search. I did all the things that you are supposed to do. Crafted multiple versions of my resume, sent resumes for job postings, sent resumes cold, sent resumes to companies, temp agencies, recruiters, followed up with phone calls, called in favors for recommendations, applied to dream jobs, realistic jobs, and jobs for which I was over qualified.

he silence was deafening. I got one interview (which has yet to make an offer) and a sum total of three rejection letters out of dozens of resumes.

As it became clear that a professional job was not in the immediate offing, I started a job at a retail music store. The pay sucked, but it had the potential for commission. The work environment was chaotic, but tolerable, the hours were horrible, but it was pretty cool to play a $3000 Les Paul through a $1500 Egnater tube amp on my break. Once it became obvious that the "big commission check" was akin to the tears of the Virgin Mary--existing solely as a legend, but if you believe hard enough, you might just see it, if only briefly and you'll never be able to prove it afterwards—I quit.

More recently, I have placed my faith in temp agencies. After all, temp agencies are always looking for presentable people with good office skills and with potential for a permanent hire. Right? I applied with three temporary agencies over the past six weeks. All of them had me present a resume, come in for an interview and take evaluations in MS Office and typing speed. At it turns out, I am proficient (woo-hoo!) in MSWord, Excel, PowerPoint, and can type 59 words a minute (my actual scores have been 52, 57, 59—I have yet to break the 60 barrier, but I have high hopes). So I am pretty much the perfect employee. Right?

WRONG! I went to my fourth interview today at a temp agency—lets call it PenisPower. I got the interview after sending in my resume, having a brief phone interview, and doing some online evaluations (no, I did not break 60 wpm, however you'll be glad to know I remain "proficient" otherwise). Although I spent almost two hours jumping through these various hoops, the interview lasted all of 15 minutes—that is how long it took the placement coordinator to tactfully inform me that she didn't feel comfortable sending me on any available jobs because I was too good for PenisPower. Although I appreciated her honesty, I was stunned. I explained to her that placing me on a job that was "beneath me" was a ménage a trois of wins because I get a job, the client gets a solid employee which they could easily hire and move up, and PenisPower gets the reputation of placing the most rock solid penises in the right spot. Moreover, without sounding desperate, I used the phrase "I need a job" more than John McCain uses the word "maverick."

She coyly smiled, no doubt dazzled by my logic, but then quickly reassured me that "in today's job market companies aren't looking for people like you." I am not exactly sure what that means—assuming "people like you" are people who meet or exceed the qualifications for a specific job, take the time to go through the various weeding out procedures, and travel 45 minutes to show up 10 minutes early to a 15 minute interview—what kind of people are they looking for?

At this juncture, I briefly thought I may have to return to the music shop and plead for my job back. However, the conversation would most likely go like this—

Goffchile: Hey, I have had second thoughts about quitting, I really love it here, I miss the low pay, hearing botched versions of "Enter Sandman" and "Eruption" 20 times a day, the Dollar Store Beef Jerky, and working every minute of every weekend---and I know I will hit commission soon. Can you find it in your big rock 'n' roll hearts to rehire me?

Manager: Good to see you dude. Dude, I know we said that you were re-hirable, but based on your performance, we can't bring you back, dude.

Goffchile: Performance? What was wrong with my performance?

Manager: Dude, do you realize that in your first month, you were tenth in sales out of a staff of thirty and outsold established veterans and even manager dudes? Do you realize that in the first two weeks of October, you moved up to sixth, passing four other dudes? We simply can't tolerate that.

Goffchile: But isn't a good thing that I was outselling veterans with established customers?

Manager: Duuuuuuude, no! That sort of competence is unacceptable. Your too good for us. Don't you know we have worked hard to establish ourselves as the Wal-Mart of the music business—we aren't gonna mess that up by hiring dudes with potential like you.

Goffchile: (Puts fist through Marshall stack and runs out the door)

Manger: Dude, wait! You vandalized equipment—maybe we can use you after all!

Apparently, I have fucked up seriously. Being proficient (meaning qualified) makes you over qualified for jobs. Having an impressive resume is a bad thing. Being able to type, spell, and put a sentence together makes you un-hirable.

Therefore, I am beginning a sociological experiment for which I am enlisting the aid of my friends. Most folks inflate their resumes, I want to deflate mine faster than the McCain's post-convention bounce. I am creating an alter-ego which I am calling "marginally competent office schmuck." I am going create an entire resume, back story, and persona that will allow me to get a job ASAP. What I need is some aid in how to do this. I am absolutely serious about this! I want my resume to scream "marginally competent office schmuck."

So here is my question, "What are the things that most people would avoid having on their resume, but which 'MCOS' wouldn't mind or see as a badge of honor?"

A few ideas so far—

A few well placed misspellings. Nothing horrible, but just commonly misspelled words like "recieve." (any other words come to mind)

Multiple colleges, no degrees (need some help with the colleges that scream "marginal competence"—University of Phoenix?)

Bouncing from job to job—suggestions?

"Bad jobs"—any job that you have had which you would be to embarrassed to put on a resume but which "MCOS" wouldn't think twice about

Anything else?

Keep in mind, the purpose is it get job—but a job which my resume suggests I am not qualified.

I may also need "former supervisors" and "references." Volunteer and I will let you know what to do.




Anonymous said...

Marginal Competence? - My degree from UOP makes me marginally competent? Wow! I thought I enhanced my skills in critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, agility and adaptability, and communication. I guess I was wrong. Thank you for demeaning my efforts and my degree.

goffchile said...

Hey I'm bitter.

goffchile said...

And you got your degee so that doesn't count anyway.