Back in the day, I had a professional career in many a gray office, sitting in squeaky office chairs within the confines of padded cells cubicles. I didn't care for the dreariness of a corporate environment day after day after day. Although, I did have fun dressing up like Corporate Barbie in cute little Bebe suits and my signature neck scarves. I definitely enjoyed talking to the founders of companies about their humble beginnings and bright ideas. But most of all, I loved helping people land a job. I was a Recruiter.
I worked with department managers that swore they were dying without the qualified person in the chair of the very important open spot. They professed to me that without that particular position being filled, their department could not possibly function. It never had to do with their poor management skills or crappy pay.
I would leave their beautiful offices, legal pad filled with the endless requirements that would never be found in one individual, as though I was being set up. Not that I was being paranoid. I knew they sent me off to do the impossible so that when the Big Cheese CEO came asking why that department hadn't made its numbers or hit its goals, they could say, "Sugar hasn't filled the position yet."
Yep. It was always my fault. Awesome.
That's okay... I loved a challenge! More than once, I found their Needle-in-a-Haystack. Not only could this person do everything that was required, they were ecstatic to do it for the measly pay I was offering. I always got so energized talking to candidates that were excited to jump out of bed and get to work. It made me want to jump out of bed and do mine, too!
Sadly, it wasn't always that way.
Some people simply had their resumes up on job boards and went on regular interviews to prove to EDD that they were still looking for a job. Interviewing is a requirement in order to continue receiving unemployment benefits. We knew this. They knew we knew this. But still, we all played along.
They would show up for their interviews and I'd know.
They were usually late. They didn't have the typical eager look on their face. They didn't care about their appearance. It wasn't just that they didn't have a new suit. It was stuff like wearing flip-flops, wearing jackets that had not been hung in months, chewing gum... and the list goes on. During the interviews, they acted annoyed that I was actually taking the time to ask them about their experience and questioning the large gaps in employment. They answered my technical questions so poorly. Some wouldn't make eye contact. It blew me away that they could care less that I was offering them an opportunity to work and possibly improve their lives.
Sometimes, I wanted to reach over the table, grab their zipper ties, and scream...
WHY ARE YOU WASTING MY TIME?
After the non-interviews, I'd talk to the other recruiters about my frustrations. They understood because they had as many of these non-interviews as I did. We wondered about the candidates' back stories and why they didn't care about getting a job. It was even more frustrating to us that we had just wasted our time trying to do our own jobs. We took our jobs seriously. We worked hard to deliver impossible results to ungrateful managers. It drained my energy to deal with people that took even an hour away from me doing my job.
Not everyone that is out of work wants to be out of work. Some are waiting for the right position, pay, environment. That makes perfect sense, especially to Yours Truly that gets a rash even thinking about returning to a cubicle. And not everyone I interviewed was wasting my time. In fact, those folks accounted for a relatively small percentage of the candidates I came across. Even though the number was small, I still became very cynical during my years as a recruiter.
Tonight after Project Runway on Lifetime TV, The Fairy Jobmother premieres. Career Specialist, Hayley Taylor is The Fairy Jobmother. Don't let the name fool you. She's not all sweetness and sunshine... but she is fast becoming my hero. She does what I never got to do. She asks the tough questions. She gets stern with the candidates about their lack of interviewing skills. She critiques their presentation and resumes. She also gets to talk very seriously about their choices and tries to get them to take responsibility for their own circumstances.
It's Tough Love, Recruiter Style. I think I'm going to love this show.
The Fairy Jobmother will air Thursday, October 28th, at 11p/10c on Lifetime, following the season finale of Project Runway. The series will then move to its regular time slot on Thursday at 9p/8c, beginning November 4th.
PS: I know "They" is a plural and that I should have used "He/She" to be grammatically correct. So let's just pretend I was telling you this story over a Cosmo on a random Tuesday night, 'kay? 'Kay.