Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
The advent of technology is great, a wondrous thing to behold. Or so I thought, until I had to re-enter the job market. Now I find I am a job search dinosaur in my approach.
I grew up in a time of the human condition. A time where you knew your neighbors and a town was a community. A handshake was considered a binding contract and people were quick to smile. The neighborhood watch when I was a kid, consisted of the neighbors policing all the children and looking out for each other. Not because they had monthly meetings with people they didn’t really know, but simply because they cared about the people around them. Most of our neighbors never locked their doors and would come into your house without knocking first. Why not? They were like family. I remember sitting on the porch and openly smiling and waving to passersby. Milk, the paper and fresh bread were delivered. Everyone knew you by name and would be there in a heartbeat if you needed help.
My mother was the extended pantry for her neighborhood friends and they were hers. If you borrowed eggs to make a cake, you took some over for them to share. We had neighborhood parties and BBQ’s. We shared the sorrows of loss and the joys of triumphs together. You felt anchored, connected to something bigger and better than yourself. I’ll never forget when I applied for my first job, I was 13. My teacher wanted to know if I would be interested in working as a teacher’s aide for the summer. I was so excited and made the appointment for the interview. I followed the example of everyone I knew and dressed like I was serious about wanting the job. It didn’t matter what the job was, I was told you always dress to impress. I walked in and filled out the application and was given an interview on the spot. We could look each other in the eye, as I answered pointed questions. They were able to read my body language and I theirs.
The interview ended with a handshake and a job offer. I didn’t have to take an evaluation for an hour and a half and then go for a drug test, a physical or a psych test. I didn’t have to wait for them to receive an answer from their corporate office in another state, before I was hired. I started immediately, which meant I changed clothes and went to work. I purchased a bicycle with my first paycheck and rode it the twenty-five mile round trip every day. Due to a failing economy, I now find myself back in the job market. Having worked consistently for over the past twenty-five plus years, I have not had to face the lack of human contact that comes with today’s job search. I polished my resume and naively started my search for prospective employers. I walked into several businesses and was told they wouldn’t even look at my resume, until I filled out the application on line. I would then be more than welcome to drop off my resume and someone would probably call me. I was feeling disappoint that hitting the sidewalk had left me with no results. I had come up empty. I now entered stage two of the job hunt. I went home to attack the search from a different front: the computer. I downloaded my resume into a plethora of job search engines. There was MONSTER, SNAG A JOB, YAHOO HOT JOBS, SALES JOBS, CAREER BUILDER, JOBS.COM, AMERICAN JOBS, ALL RETAIL JOBS, WORKING IN RETAIL, and ALL JOBS.COM to name but a few. Within minutes my email was inundated with potential jobs. Of course, over 50% of them could be immediately ignored. They were well beyond my scope of capabilities or far below. I had stated a desire for full-time employment and there was page after page of jobs listing part-time work. Most of the jobs had literally no information about what the job requirements truly consisted of, or the experience level required. Just brief overviews for the most part. I called a few of the companies to get more information, but was told there was no one who could offer any assistance, but I was more than welcome to try their corporate headquarters. Calling their corporate headquarters resulted once more in no human contact, only a recording stating the jobs available and to go online to apply. I bit the bullet and started applying online. It seemed pretty straight forward at first. Press, apply for this job and so I did. Attach your resume, so I did. Now fill out the application, which I did, and then after about 40 minutes I was directed to take a test which was only going to take 55 to 60 minutes. I was then asked if I had ever been convicted of a felony, would I submit to a background and credit check and a drug test. I felt more violated than if I had just experienced a pat down at the airport. I spent over six hours at the computer and came away feeling like I had not accomplished anything. Yesterday, I downloaded an application, which I filled out at home and today I am taking it along with my resume to a potential employer. Someone I will actually be able to talk to, shake his hand and have some human contact with.
There’s a lot to be said for taking an application or resume in person. The ability to read a person’s body language is so important. Do they seem interested or distracted? Is their appearance clean and presentable? Are they chewing gum, texting, fidgeting, making faces or seem impatient?
The computer can’t tell if someone is friendly and outgoing if they are applying for a customer service job. The computer can’t ask a potential mechanic questions about how to rebuild a carburetor or how to set the timing on a vehicle and see if he has traces of grease under his nails. The job search is so impersonal now and unfortunately is a sad reflection of our society. Have we lost our humanity amidst the advent of so much technology? Have families forgotten how to laugh, hug, play board games and talk? Or like corporate America do they process their children in their harried lives and have forgotten what it’s like to experience the human condition? I prefer the handshake an