In 1994, I was a care-free, early twenty something, no-child-having, young woman. As the year ended, I had a birthday and moved into my first NY apartment.
It was also the last time I went on a “real” job interview and was hired at a starting salary of $44K (my ending salary at that same company had more than doubled by the time I left 13 years later). Twenty. Whole. Years.
The last time I dwelled on something that happened twenty years ago, I was trying to remember the last time I was dumped (I’m usually the dump-er, not the dump-ee).
That fact hit me this morning while I was in the car as I tried not to worry too much about all of the things I’m doing wrong. All of the personal things, financial things, and emotional things that I need to fix, to do better, to repair. In all that I do know, interviewing is flawed because you depend on humans with their personal backgrounds, pre-conceived assumptions about you and their silly pet-peeves. In this day and age when people are LOOKING for a reason to not hire you, interviewing is baffling, very baffling.
I kept saying to myself that the interview went well. The two women were laughing and smiling the entire time. The older woman, with grown children (yes, during the interview I had both of them volunteering personal information in the midst of my “conversation” with them – they were THAT comfortable with me), would sit back with an approving nod (or so I thought) as I talked and made eye contact with both of them. I just knew I was going to be hired thanks to a church member in a particular position at the company, and then I remembered the older woman had to leave the interview for about 5 minutes. Five minutes with the younger woman. The younger woman who didn’t look older than me. The younger woman who asked most of the questions. The younger woman who I believe is the one that had an issue with one word I mentioned. Younger women with power – sigh – the people who cause so much unnecessary strife in the 21st century because they are so judgmental.
Oh yeah, she “liked” me but one word, just one word, was a reason I will most likely not be hired. One word erases the fact that I have the intelligence, the skill, and the maturity to handle the job and to do it well. One word that in-and-of itself may not sound right but when coupled with the way (I think) I turned it around to my acknowledgement of an area I needed to improve (that was the question you asked me but it must have not mattered to you), that one word would be the nail in my coffin.
One word, one simple word.
I can honestly say the words that have been swirling in my mind all weekend were not nice words.
They were not words of self-encouragement.
They were not words of hope.
They were not words to make me fight even harder as I look for employment.
They were words of defeat and embarrassment that I can’t even get a job making less than one-third of what I made at my last real job. (Oh yeah, and stop asking what my last salary was on the job application, you’ll probably never see those figures in your lifetime at your company here in the underpaid state of NC).
Now, let me get ready for this job fair today. Hopefully I’ve learned that honesty does not count when looking for a job. While saying what they want to hear, remember that they’re looking for a reason to not hire you. I did know that, but I let their smiles allow me to forget. Lesson learned.
1994 was a good year. Here’s to hoping 2014 will be an even better one.