I remember my first job. I was just a kid, not even old enough to drive. I had started collecting comic books, which weren’t cheap. That being said, I realize that they cost a fortune today by comparison. But I was starting to come into my own and wanting things that my parents felt shouldn’t just be given, but earned. So, I did what any fastidious kid in my position would do: I went to Service Canada and not only looked for a job but enlisted some help in drafting a resume, despite the fact there was next to nothing on it.
Decades ago, applying for a job required some personality on one’s part. Walking into a physical location, smiling and shaking hands before handing over the coveted document that would lay the baseline for the employer as to WHY they should choose you was the key element in not only securing an interview, but ultimately getting the job. That first interaction would allow a potential employer to see who you were as a person, even before sitting you down to ask questions relating to the job. Oh, how times have changed…
That first summer led to me acquiring a job digging trenches for sewer lines. Yeah, you read that right! At twelve years of age, I was shovelling dirt as a summer job. The labour laws of the time were, shall we say, a touch less strict. Considering my parents had just discovered my involvement in karate and I had to start paying my own way on things, I couldn’t afford to be choosy. And it was excellent exercise anyway.
That first job led to a permanent part-time job throughout the school year where I worked for the catholic church collecting used bingo cards every Thursday night. Except for getting the occasional bingo dabber stain on my fingers, it was pretty easy work and earned me ten dollars every week. That may not seem like a lot, but it paid my monthly karate tuition and kept me in comics.
Getting interviewed was always a nerve-wracking experience. Sitting across a desk from a potential employer who would ask you all sorts of questions that, although professional and pertaining to the job, could often seem a touch on the personal side and maybe even invasive. Some interviews that I’ve sat through have even bordered on the rude side. For example, wondering if you’ve ever been convicted of a criminal offence for which a pardon has not been granted is a pretty standard question for an interview and/or on an application form. But having a stranger verbally ask you, “Have you ever committed a crime? Ever? Tell me!” can be a little unnerving.
But there’s no better feeling than having an interview go well, getting to know your potential employer as they get to know you and allowing you the chance to explain why you’d be a fit for the job. That smile and handshake, followed by an affirmation that you’ll be a great fit or a phone call later in the day indicating the same thing would make it all worthwhile. But this doesn’t seem to be the standard of how things are done anymore.
These days, walking into a physical location and asking to see a manager is a futile move. If and when the manager is available, they’ll usually tell you to go online and apply on the company’s website. Very few places carry paper applications and even fewer bother with accepting a resume. All that stuff is done online. It takes away the human aspect of introducing oneself and shaking hands (although such things are currently a no-go anyway).
Once you’ve completed the online application process, you’re general faced with a structured interview that contains pre-scripted questions. The problem with this is a that such interviews, especially panel interviews where you’re questioned by multiple interviewers, also takes the human aspect out of the interview and really don’t allow a potential employer the benefit of getting to know the applicant. In truth, how can you hope to know if an applicant will be a good fit for your company without getting to know them?
The job industry is made all the more difficult by the fact that even your basic, minimum wage jobs that only require a hand and a heartbeat still require an exorbitant number of hoops to be jumped through. Having a decade or more of experience in a related field is still treated with suspicion and scrutiny and most of the time, it may be for a job that’s below what’s financially required of one’s household since, as is usually the case, everyone starts at the bottom.
Gone are the days where applying in person and having a positive attitude were enough to get you a chance. Should you be unfortunate enough not to be tech savvy or knowledgeable on the use of computers and navigating the workforce online, you either need to throw yourself on the mercy of someone who knows how or find yourself wanting. Although technology has brought us a long way towards progress, it’s also harmed us in others. ☯