As a rule, I’ve never been very good at selling myself. In school and at home as a child I was always taught to be humble and modest about myself as well as my talents, so as to not put others down. But when it comes to finding a job and proving you are better than someone else at something…my god am I terrible at it! I’ve decided that the art of looking for a job is something that few people know how to do well, and it’s the sort of thing that comes with no rules, as well as no limit to the amount of humiliation you are allowed to suffer in the process. To all of you out there who have a steady job, I salute you, as well as secretly curse your every waking moment, in the nicest way possible.
Some quick background information about the current state of the Canadian economy, particularly in the city I am living in: It sucks! Highest unemployment rate in all of Canada. Woo! So I began fighting a loosing battle in November of this year, when my last employment adventure up North ended. Hundreds of resumes were sent out, tens of applications were painfully filled in and countless embarrassing encounters with business owners presented themselves, but still nothing. You would think having a Science degree would qualify you for something, but apparently it means you’re overqualified for everything that you’re not under-qualified for.
The most success I had was the opportunity to volunteer at a couple of museums in town, museums who were shamelessly exploiting my knowledge and talent for no money whatsoever. So I decided it was time to pull out the big guns, become less picky and essentially sell myself, with as cherry on top. I visited recruiting agencies (who, I learned, are worse at keeping in touch and getting back to you than places you apply to), sent random emails to companies who weren’t hiring, and even sent letters to places that were very much out of town (ie. California). When nothing at all seemed to work, and when I felt like I didn’t even exist, like a figment of my own imagination, I began to give up.
One day, when I was nonchalantly knitting a pair of socks, the phone rang. And when I say ‘rang’ I mean the Smith’s “Panic” started screaming at me. (Why I choose panic-inducing ring tones so I’m forced to answer (which I generally dislike doing) will one day be explained in a wordy blog post with lots of philosophy, and will ultimately get us one step closer to knowing the meaning of life).
“Hello?” I’m not expecting a call from anyone, I think.
In a thick “France” French accent; “Hi, is this Hailey Wright?”
“Yes, can I help you?”
“I’m calling from AirTransat, regarding your application for a Flight Attendant position. Would you have a couple of minutes for a telephone interview?” Oh my holy sacred goat…is this really happening? I think back to sending in the playfully written cover letter a week or-so ago….or was that a dream? It was when my gentleman was talking about his first flight to West Virginia (which coincidentally, he’s on at this very moment) he had said I would make an excellent flight attendant, but in jest of course. the next day I had stumbled across an add for the position and the irony of it all was just too much, so I had to send out my resume. If not for anything other than a good laugh. Who’d a thought they’d actually call me!
“Yes!…Yes of course” I reply to the woman… And so what followed was fifteen minutes of tricky questions about whether or not I’d be ok relocating to Vancouver, how long me and the gentleman have been together, how good my French was, and that sort of thing. Next thing I knew I had scheduled a personal interview, five hours away in Toronto/Mississauga at the airport for the following Tuesday.
What a crazy world. But it get’s crazier I tell you!
Remember how I pointed out earlier that I had hardly received a rejection letter from all of the positions I applied for? Well the next day, while knitting the same pair of socks (which have now been deemed my lucky socks), I got another panic-inducing phone call from a woman in Windsor, looking to hire someone for a leasing coordinator position at an Asset management company. She wanted an interview with me on the very same day as the one I’d previously scheduled with AirTransat, five hours away. Like I said…crazy world. It loves to mess with me. I managed to schedule the interview for the following day with the regional manager, and then I began what was to be an intense preparation for the series of professional interviews…something I have never had to do before.
I wont go into any detail about the interviews themselves, because they were very standard, so I understand. The same “what are your strengths, what are your weaknesses?” type of generic questions that I swear must come out of “THE BIG BOOK OF INTERVIEWS” that all employers get once they start a business. Writing aptitude tests, proving you have an education and are not an incompetent fall-down, who is willing to show up to work every day…It all seems like a lot of work really, but needs to be done. The interesting part was the French assessment, which turns out I’m worse at than I thought. I blame the Canadian public school system, not teaching us French from actual French people. The accent threw me RIGHT off! “Oh, that means ‘Help, there’s a fire on the plane’, who’d-a-thought!?”
Then began the fun part, waiting oh so patiently for them to get back to you. That’s the worst part because people suck. Even nice people with good intentions suck. It’s just too easy not to call you. I wait two weeks to hear from either of them. I got fed up and emailed the woman from Windsor, and she had the pleasure of telling me the position I was interviewed for was cancelled and no longer being filled, but on the bright side she wanted to consider me for a less appealing position. I haven’t heard back on that front yet either, so it’s still a possibility but I’m considering the majority of that scenario a failure. And finally this Friday, the letter I had been waiting for slipped through the mail slot, all the way from Montreal, and in three quick and painless sentences, delivered the blow to my hopeful ego. I SO hate failing at things, I really do.
It’s not that I aspired to be a flight attendant my whole life or wanted to move away from the life I knew to live in Vancouver or anything, it was just a temporary goal that I thought would make my life a bit more interesting. Serving tiny coffee’s and miniature food to pleasant people seemed like a perfectly decent idea; A good story to tell someone’s grandkids, and an excellent opportunity to see the world. Though some people I told about the Interview looked at me sideways, and threw out the “I thought you were going to do something more….(important…interesting…significant…useful…relevant to your degree)…I don’t know…just something else.” But they can suck a lemon. It’s my party…I’ll cry if I want to.
So I’m back to ground zero, living in this sort of depressing city, back on the trail towards gainful employment with a little bit more life experience in my pocket. I’m going to think of it as a chance to start again. I’ve got a new phone number (actually from this city this time), we’re moving away from downtown at the end of next month into a much more suitable place with less drunken yelling at night, and I get to try it all over again. And no one has to know any better.