Job-hunting has really changed since that summer during my high school years when I went out and found my first real job.
Life was simpler way back then, I guess. Kids were expected to get summer jobs and businesses expected to hire them. I remember putting on a coat and tie and walking door to door through the downtown district asking each store manager if they were hiring for the summer. Eventually, one said yes, and I found myself employed.
It got tougher as the years went by. When you went job-hunting, you needed to remember a pen, because employers started asking for applications and because, sometimes, being prepared to fill one out was a part of the testing process.
The applications asked for more than just your name and address. You were expected to write down your education, qualifications and, worst of all, references. That meant, to apply for a job, I had to find three people who would vouch for me. At no time in my life has that ever been an easy task.
And then, of course, the whole process became electronic and in doing so, much less personal. It’s a lot easier to say “no” in an email or electronic message than it is to look someone in the eye and tell them, “I’m sorry, we’ve offered the position to someone else.” And in today’s post-crash economy, electronic applications often result in, well, nothing. No notice that the application was received or that the position was filled. Just electronic silence.
It’s maddening and it seems like there should be a better way. But the hard, cold fact is this: the application process is the way business is done. If you want a job, you’re going to have to fill out an application. Everywhere. Even al-Qaida. Apparently, you even have to fill out a job application to be a terrorist.
When U.S. commandos stormed Osama bin Laden’s compound in 2011, they seized documents and electronic records. Among the documents they found was an application. Part of the application, translated by the CIA, asked for typical information, such as name, age, and address, and applicants were advised to “write clearly and legibly.” Good advice for anyone seeking employment.
There were some typical questions, such as, “List your previous occupations.” But then things started to get weird. For instance: “List the types of passports you possess. Did you use a real or forged passport for your current travel?” I know many people have more than one passport, especially those with dual citizenship. But asking for a forged passport on a job application?
And, here’s an interesting question to get an interview rolling: “Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?” I’m trying to think of responses to that question. Do I get overtime? Does it come with a car? Can I do it after I get back from vacation? If an applicant happens to be on the fence with the suicide mission question, there’s another one: “Do you have any chronic or hereditary disease(s)?” Maybe that answer will push you to one side or the other.
The final question would probably have me looking for work elsewhere: “Who should we contact in case you become a martyr?”
So, it doesn’t appear that job-hunting is particularly easy anywhere. And as frustrating as electronic applications can be, at least you know that if you get the job, there won’t be any one-way business trips in your future.