Once I got this new job that I love, I thought I’d pay it forward by helping others who have also been struggle to find decent work. I put in a referral for an acquaintance of mine from college for a job on the opposite coast from where she was located. Yet, after about two weeks I saw that they declined to interview her. I was disappointed. She has much more experience in this field than I do, and is willing to take less money. Between the college she went to, her background, and the referral, she should have at least gotten an interview. Yeah, she applied to a job on the opposite coast, but she has family there and was more than willing to relocate. I mean, are recruiters that close-minded to think that people do not have connections in different cities and are not willing to relocate on their own dime? This seems to be the case in Florida, but I have lowered my expectations for Florida-based companies, but I expect more from the west coast and the mid/northeast.
So when my friend saw that she was not selected for an interview, she called to follow-up with me. She said exactly what I thought, that will all she had going for her, she should have at least gotten an interview. Why no interview? She had a few positions where she was only with a company for a few months, but she has only been out of college for 5 years. She also went to a top 10 school. There is no doubt in my mind that she excelled where she went and probably learned in a few months what it would take an average person to learn in a year. I found out later that the recruiter left the company kind of abruptly. Considering potential internal communication issues, I thought it possible that the application got lost in the shuffle, so I worked with her to help her reapply.
I say all this to explain why I am not only disappointed, but also frustrated and angry. She should have at least gotten an interview. That’s exactly how I felt after I applied for hundreds of jobs and received no response: I should’ve at least gotten an interview, especially in a state with generally low standards that they broadcast to the world.
There are intelligent people everywhere, at all types of schools who work hard and work smart, yes. They shouldn’t be excluded just because they did not go to a “top” school. However, at those “top” schools, the intelligence metric is skewed towards the higher end, so if the general market is saturated with mostly average applicants, the top candidates should get an interview. A nice rejection email will not even suffice. So why don’t we get the interview? Recruiters feel intimidated (especially with the female applicants or minority applicants), recruiters/employers are cheap and assume we’ll ask for a lot of money (I ask for more now because I had bills that are past-due and I’m a little bitter. Back when I was chasing non-profits, I would have been fine with mid 30ks – mid 40Ks.), or hiring is done internally. In Florida, another issue is that people do not understand the school rankings, most likely because most of the people recruiting are not from the U.S. and come from cultures where simply going to school in the U.S. gives high class status, and also for some very strange reason, Florida is regarded as some type of Mecca where everyone is flocking to: Latin Americans, yes, Americans, no.
Since moving to Florida… I have been told that I am under-qualified to be an Administrative Assistant by the same person who had trouble making an international phone call and was more interested in hearing about my program at an un-ranked Florida state school than my undergraduate degree, and recently when I mentioned wanting to get a Ph.D. at a private university here to someone who attended the undergraduate school, the guy said it was a good school at then dropped its ranking in an obvious attempt to solicit a reaction. When you round the number you get #50. My undergrad is ranked higher. I said nothing. What was I supposed to say? What was he assuming? I was just trying to talk about the program, not the ranking…
So suffice it to say, Florida is a very special case, a twilight zone. But, going back to my prior point, when you make certain achievements in life, you deserve to sit at the table, and in this case, be granted an interview.
In getting back to the title of this piece, for me, my disappointment, frustration, and anger begins with myself and my peers not getting and interview and ends with being lumped together alongside of and compared to those who by our standards do not have the same intellectual capacity or even the desire to acquire it. The last time I felt above average was in middle school and then I would go home and my parents would give me impossible problems to solve and I felt challenged. From high school to (most of) graduate school I didn’t feel unique, and then after graduating, I felt my brain was dying for the most part of the time. Now, I feel like I am being told to slow down so others can catch up… maybe they need to move a little faster…? I had a few classes in college where I was falling behind. It was frustrating, yes, but I learned from it, and certainly did not try to slow others down because of me, and the professor certainly did not slow down for us slower students either.
I feel that I am being told to slow down, and even indirectly being held back because they’re little for me to learn from those in my same role. In our initial training, we did some things in Excel (my mother does everything in Excel, so she made me learn it) and this one guy could not find the “sort” feature. Ok, maybe he did not learn it, but I consider that to be basic Excel/Office, and so did my brother who is an Excel pro and makes fun of my minimal knowledge (not in a mean way), which compared to the guy at the office is probably advanced… Anyways, there’s the issue of him not knowing where the “sort” feature was, not searching for it, and not asking someone, another Florida thing, with the machismo (“gag”). So, I know Macros/VBA because I went on YouTube. I did this lovely Microsoft Office test where I had to create a Macro, which I did, by following the directions. This other lady comes out and says it was asking me to do stuff I had never seen… Follow the DAMN directions!
My other colleagues do not appear to be familiar with checking email regularly… We get things through Outlook that they don’t see until late, I was scheduling the meetings, and then this other person just copied and pasted directly into the Macro and not the function bar, repeatedly. Do something once, or twice, okay, but then troubleshoot and do something differently. Ironically, the stuff that I know in Outlook is more in line with being an Administrative Assistant (you know, the thing I was under-qualified for), but somethings I just happened upon by being curious. In high school, when we first got our email accounts, we went over email etiquette. Until Facebook happened I was checking everything daily, and now I’ll look through it, but only my work emails usually get a response during the week, and then on the weekends, good luck.
So maybe they don’t know these things, but while they figure it out, I can be promoted and given more money, not told to slow down while people learn things that I learned years ago. And then the issue with troubleshooting. My high school, college, and parents taught me to be analytical, and I guess I was probably born inquisitive too. I cannot not be analytical, which is why my writing tends to go in multiple directions at a time because I see various topics that can be further explained or further analyzed. I cannot not ask questions. I cannot not solve problems (I love jigsaw puzzles by the way). I do not understand people who need constant instruction and cannot take the information given and run with it. I do not understand people who cannot isolate the variables to determine the cause either on their own or with others. It is basically a higher level of thinking that I was surrounded by that I need near me again so I can stop coming home and being shocked by how little people actually know how to do. Well, I guess this also speaks to the gap in education quality between institutions and regions, but that’s a separate topic.
Again, back to the point of this post. My job is amazing because of the company and the people I work with you are all very nice. I actually get along with the Managers and the people not on my team a bit better. The concept of networking seems to be lost on some… We had very comprehensive training and there is all sorts of information we can reference and people we can contact if we have any questions, but ultimately, we were given the tools and told to run with it. There was this new training recently that was more lecture-based, more European/Latin America style, so I am going to have to review the information on my own. There was no PowerPoint presentation. I feel like that really makes me sound like a spoiled, privileged American, but presentations should have PowerPoints with key takeaways. You doing something and me watching you is horrible for me and not the environment that I am used to, and arguably an environment that has proved to be the most successful.
So continuing on from that last point, I feel that it will be therapeutic for me to tell the recruiters who did not get back to me and my former employer who proved there is hell on earth exactly how I am feeling at my new billion dollar company that makes them look like fools playing in the dirt. My parents would advise against is, but the Scorpio in me is telling me I should do it. It would be smug, Bill Maher-style, but I will feel good once I write it. I did this 3 times already. One I actually regret, and another I really don’t. The third ons is not worth mentioning. For the one I regret, I misread the email… The recruiter was checking in with all applicants saying that they need more time to review the applications. I misread it, and said something like, “Thank you for letting me know and for helping me realize that now is the best time for me to move.” My moving deadline was either before or at the same time they intended to make their decision. For the other one, it was a top management company looking for bilingual Spanish speakers with Portuguese being a plus, for their Latin America team. They emphasized that the person must have a university degree from a top university. This is in Florida, and I am really sensing that here, “top university” is synonymous with Florida college/university. So, they sent me an email saying I wasn’t going further in the application, and I responded, in Portuguese, telling them they are going to have a hard time finding someone better. They’re still looking…
I most likely will write back to those recruiters who wasted my time asking for foolish things like a high school transcript. But in the next post, I will write what I want to say to the worst company/management I have every worked for. My intention is not to send it, but I make no promises.