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The Application Process

Updated on January 28, 2008

Do you enjoy large groups of people? Do you feel comfortable telling some one off? Do people do things that anger you? Do you enjoy following orders? The real question is what do any of these questions have to do with effectively finding competent employees? Shouldn’t the questions be more like: Can you mop a floor? Do you burn yourself while carrying hot food? Can you hold things in your right hand WHILE holding things in your left as well?

I don’t know what the answers to the above questions are, but I do know that it is inconsequential. I lost my job three months ago, and it has become increasingly difficult to get hired at businesses were the term, entry level employment, is not even applicable. I do not intend to imply that the people who work these jobs are unskilled, but the skills that they have learned can be taught to any competent individual in a very short amount of time. I am currently still attending school, so I’m not looking for a career opportunity, or even a career builder. I am looking for jobs that require no education and very little experience; the jobs that young adults get early in life that teach them to hate their profession (in a noble manner) and allows them to prematurely begin there soon-to-be lifelong bout with alcoholism. How much intelligence does it require to ring up a book, mop a floor, or drop a plate of food off at a table? Why am I going to school, if I can’t even get hired at Appleby’s? For the last 22 years, I have read books, written reports, and studied; all so that I can get turned down for jobs I didn’t want to work in the first place?

This monkey is qualified for the jobs I can't get
This monkey is qualified for the jobs I can't get

Half of me wonders whether it’s worth the effort; why should I prove myself to people who actually believe I can’t operate a cash register effectively. How am I not qualified to sit in front of a computer, scanning useless consumer garbage and spewing out ridiculous prices they shouldn’t be paying in the first place? It’s not as if I share that view with the customers, if they feel the need to spend their hard earned currency on devices that were invented for the sole purpose of making money, then so be it. If they want to participate in a perpetual cycle of oblivion (some call it money), that’s their choice to ignorantly believe that they should pay $300 for a phone with features that most adults over 30 will never discover. Maybe I’m a little bitter, but it’s really disheartening to be forced to participate in something that you think is fundamentally absurd, and to be told that you lack the qualifications for absurdity.

The fact of the matter is that these jobs are looking to curb individualism. What other reason can they have for denying employment besides the fact that I don’t fit their mold (in Orange County that’s a skinny, silicone-enhanced mold that costs a pretty penny to make)? Personality tests allow businesses to pre-determine whether the applicant will “break the mold”, a dangerous happening that usually results in free-thinking. Those personality questions are not about your actual opinion, it’s about knowing how to curtail your opinion. The people designing these questions have to know that anyone can single out the “ideal” response they’re looking for irregardless of their actual convictions. Essentially, they expect you to lie, they even condone lying, or at least their test does. I take these personality tests and my mind becomes confused halfway through; I’m lying to myself and to my future employer (however unlikely) because yes, I do curse when I argue and yes I have done my fair share of troublemaking, and no I don’t care if Randy plucks a couple packets of staples while my manager sits in his office stumbling, myspacing, or youtubeing; I’d love to help Randy pluck them, but Jessica’s on break and Mrs. Sobel can’t find the giant aisle of paper goods 5 feet to her left.

I hope this is not what we are aspiring to become
I hope this is not what we are aspiring to become

In essence, to succeed, you have to become a person at work that you don’t really want to be (or at least that I don’t really want to be), because how much can I possibly care about a fish taco that is prepared in 3 and a half minutes instead of 2? And then there are those poor and confused souls who believe that working at Starbucks is something they have always wanted to do; unless you love coffee (and I mean really love it: the flavors, the aromas, the bold tastes, like wine snobs but for coffee) then you don’t know yourself. You were not created to work in a storefront handing out overpriced cups of caffeine so that all the day laborers can wake themselves from the drug/alcohol/television/food induced-comas they put themselves into the previous night in order to forget about how much they hate their….oops, there’s that cycle again. I understand that there are more enjoyable ways to earn money (i.e. Starbucks vs. McDonalds), but by and large that’s not what you aspire to do, it’s just a job to bide the time before you get to do what you really want to do (sit in an office all day staring at pie charts, but that’s a different story….kind of). Maybe Starbucks or Staples or Vons is the comfortable work environment you’ve been waiting for, fine (that’s your prerogative), but at least allow me to come to work there under no false pretenses. I’ll come to work on time and perform my job well, but that doesn’t seem to be enough; they need enthusiasm, they need initiative and get-go (not separately, but together), some real drive, a real go getter; because every little cog of the machine must help run itself, as efficiently possible, into the ground.

And so I’m left to hand in application after application in pursuit of jobs that I and most people are over-qualified for, all the while contemplating the necessity of the system I’m attempting to help support at its very base. The next store I enter, I’ll probably fill out the same application, asking me the same things, questioning if I have certain mediocre abilities, and maybe I’ll finally snap. I’ll tear my shirt off and parade through the store, pricking my chest with a ballpoint pen, simultaneously carrying a non-descript item in my hands while mopping just to show that I’m qualified and that I am an individual. As absurd as that is, it may be just what I need to get hired.


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