Get a Job. Or a Fairy Jobmother.

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.

Nope. Never.

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.

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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.

It Can Happen to Anyone

When most teens think of abusive relationships, they usually don't think it will happen to them. They don't think they can be involved with someone that can hurt them physically, mentally and/or emotionally.

But the fact is, 1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner. Furthermore, 1 in 4 teens who have been in a serious relationship say their boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with family or friends, but to only spend time with their partner. These actions are classic signs of an unhealthy and abusive relationship.

In the upcoming Lifetime movie, Reviving Ophelia, we watch a smart, "good girl" fall into an abusive relationship. Elizabeth seems to have it all together. Great family. Good grades. Pretty. Popular.

And a doting boyfriend who "loves" her.

Elizabeth's cousin, Kelli seems more likely to be the girl that would get caught up in a problem relationship. She's a rebellious girl who spends lots of time alone because her struggling, single mom is always working. She shows a lack of self esteem by acting out sexually with boys that obviously don't care about her.

She's a text book victim, right?

I think that many of us might believe that only "bad" girls that come from broken homes are susceptible to falling into an abusive relationship. So if we have a stable home and a moderately comfortable lifestyle, our children will make it through their teen years unscathed. If our daughters are smart and well-behaved, we shouldn't have anything to worry about.

That's proving to be a dangerous belief system.

1 in 3 teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner.

Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser.

Teens report dating abuse via technology is a serious problem:

  • 71% of teens regard boyfriends/girlfriends spreading rumors about them on cellphones and social networking sites as a serious problem.
  • 68% of teens say boyfriends/girlfriends sharing private or embarrassing pictures/videos on cell phones and computers is a serious problem.
  • Cell phone calls and texting at unimaginable frequency mean constant control day and night

Based on those numbers, it's fair to say that abuse is a problem across all socioeconomic levels.

How would you react if you started to see that your daughter was spending less time with her friends and more time alone with her boyfriend? Most parents might think it was natural. Cute, even. What if her boyfriend was texting and calling her every hour? Some people might just see that as young love. They might remember what it was like when they wanted to spend every moment with their first real boyfriend.

Sometimes, it may be just that.

But sometimes it's more. Sometimes, it becomes dangerous.

How do we as parents know when it's more? How will we know if our daughters are in danger?

It's not likely that your teenage daughter will come to you and admit that she is being abused by her boyfriend. Her abuser has more than likely manipulated all situations in a way that leaves her feeling ashamed or at fault. As much as you want to think that you and your little girl have an open relationship where she can come to you about anything, the reality is that less than 25% of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents. Maybe you're in that small margin. But what if you're not?

What signs should you be looking for?

Has your daughter:

  • Shown signs of being afraid to upset their partner?
  • Spent excessive amounts of time in contact with their partner?
  • Lost contact with other friends?
  • Been constantly fighting with their partner?
  • Changed their behavior and/or appearance?
  • Had unexplained injuries?
  • Not been enjoying activities that he/she used to enjoy?
  • Become more aggravated and/or less independent?
  • Seemed persistent to be home at certain times to receive/make phone calls?
  • Seemed withdrawn from what is going on around him or her?

In Reviving Ophelia, even after Elizabeth lands in the hospital, we see her struggle to break free from the boy she loves. Her "bad girl" cousin, Kelli starts to figure things out and tries to help Elizabeth. Kelli turns out to be Elizabeth's greatest ally, coming to her aid, even at the risk of losing her friendship. She supports her through adult situations that teenagers are not equipped to deal with. Thankfully, Elizabeth's parents step in. But even then, breaking free is not as easy as breaking up.

Stereotypes are turned upside down in this movie, reminding us that everyone is at risk of violence, regardless of race, social class, religion. Anyone can become a victim of violence.

Even smart girls.

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Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle, Raising the Bar) and Kim Dickens (Treme, The Blind Side) star in the upcoming Lifetime Original Movie Reviving Ophelia. The movie is inspired by the best-selling book by Dr. Mary Pipher and tells the story of two mothers facing the difficulties of raising their teen daughters -- one struggling with dating abuse and the other acting out with rebellious behavior

Reviving Ophelia will premiere on Lifetime Monday, October 11, at 9PM ET/PT.

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Thank You!

Special thanks to my friend, Cathy Nguyen, Health Coordinator of the HOPE & Wellness Center at Cal State University San Marcos, for providing information and resources on this very serious issue.

~~~ Resources Love Is Respect - National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 1-866-331-9474 Website: http://www.loveisrespect.org/

Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) 1-800-656-HOPE Website: http://www.rainn.org/

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All statistics from Liz Claiborne Inc. Teenage Research