We Deserve More

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.

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Lying on Your Resume

I’ve always liked experiments, so I decided to play around with my resume to test my theories since I’ve been living in Florida. These are the assumptions:

  1. Most people have high school diplomas; a college degree is rare.
  2. Local colleges/universities are more highly regarded than those outside the state.
  3. Exact word matches are important.
  4. Less is more.

Before I arrived here, a friend of mine said she would pass along my resume to her sister who was going to share it with some law firms. I put all my degrees on there and all my work experience highlighting the legal internship I did in high school and the time spent working on law-related issues for the federal government. She was impressed. Honestly, I didn’t care; I was just trying to get a job in a field that I enjoyed in a place where I thought I would be happy. I heard nothing back. The sister went to a law school I have never heard of and is happily working as a lawyer. I feel like I should’ve gone to a no-name school to make people more comfortable. Oh, and then my cousin called me intimidating.

I have not been the “smartest” (grades, analytical skills) person in the class since elementary school. I have just been trying to do what I am interested in and obtain the skills necessary to work in fields of interest. I entered college as a wide-eyed dreamer, and now I am a bitter realist. In college I really wanted to work for the CIA so I could support my country, but they passed on me because of the propensity to compromise and be honest. Ironically, now I have recognized the value of lying, er, omitting the truth.

So, I have an online presence that will lead you directly to me, unless… I use the fact that my name is quite common, and hide myself in plain sight by removing my middle initial, in addition to all the other locks on my accounts preventing people from finding me unless I want them to. (how’s that for clandestine, CIA). The heading of this blog is misleading. I don’t lie, I just don’t tell the whole truth. Unlike most people on the internet who talk about embellishing their resumes, I do the exact opposite: downplay all of my experiences and accomplishments. Lo and behold here in the sunny state of Florida, I have gotten more responses by being less ambitious and driven. (I guess I was not smart enough to understand why the friends I knew here had left…)

So…

  1. Remove middle initial so I cannot be found online
  2. Remove graduate degree
  3. Add local school that I attended briefly to establish a common bond; it should not be on all my resumes because I do not want to appear overqualified or smart with the pursuit of a graduate degree
  4. Think minimalist: one undergraduate institution, one degree, no certificates; the resume should not show a desire to be proactive or do things differently (i.e. language certificates and time spent abroad are irrelevant)
  5. Resume should be polished, but not too much; it should not stand out and be overly impressive; stick to one bullet point
  6. Exaggerate administrative roles (I am a female, so that is more acceptable, and people will be more comfortable); anything that says “analyst” should be “assistant”, to better connect to administrative assistant
  7. Try to keep the resume to one page
  8. Cover letter should be short and sweet; nothing too detailed
  9. References should be good friends and not the standard professional references, because the real references should not be wasted

I received three callbacks with my revised Florida resume.

I interviewed for a Hotel Manager role at a high-end hotel hoping to snag a rich husband like my friend. (I mean, I really was not going to strip myself of everything I was proud of to work at a no-name motel.) I made the mistake of not rehearsing well enough before to help me to not over share and stick to the script. For this one, I also listed the college and not the university so that I could actually get the interview, and then hoped that they were not too familiar with Google… I was asked what luxury meant and I mentioned quality and some other related things including my own travel. I had thought that that did not go to well and I should have said more superficial, Miami-sounding things, but in retrospect, I think it went ok. I really needed to work on my lines though.

I interviewed for an Administrative Assistant role as well, and had a second interview today, but I don’t think it’s going to work out. I was surprised the second interview was even scheduled. I put my college’s more common name on this resume, but sticked to one degree and added the Florida school. Thankfully I was not asked about career aspirations. I was asked about my administrative assistant experience, which I do have, but it is minimal, and the first interview admitted that it’s not overly complicated, but she wanted to know what experience I had in it. Then she asked for my preferred salary, which was $15K more than what she was hoping for. That’s why I thought that that was the end of the conversation. Then she had the nerve to tell me that the place I was temping at was paying me $20.25, hinting that I should lower my expectations. As I mentioned before, I was experimenting, and I was hoping to use this company as leverage as well. (Again, more CIA tactics, lol)

So this is the kicker. First I was insulted, but then I thought maybe I did a good job constructing an average resume. Unfortunately, that also means I might actually have to consider lying in the future. The first interviewer for the admin role emailed to schedule an interview with the HR person. It was scheduled for 11. I did not hear from the second interviewer until I followed up with the first interviewer. The second interviewer struggled a lot with her English and the phone. They wanted Spanish and Portuguese skills for this role, so we could’ve switched languages, but again I had to make sure that I did not intimidate in any way and display any sort of proactivity. We finally spoke and she said I was a bit “junior” for the role because they’re looking for someone who could grow into an office manager, contracts administrator, or HR position. Whaaaat!? Welcome to Florida. I had interviewed for contract admin roles, at least now I know where they stand in the scheme of things.

I thought maybe she didn’t understand where I went to school. So I said, I do not know if you are too familiar with my school or where I worked. She recognized the school. I thought then maybe she was trying to be mean and use this as an opportunity to get back at those who went to top tier schools. She said the same thing that the other place I worked at said about my being under qualified for fast-paced and demanding environments. So, that being said I am understanding that this place is chaotic and unorganized, so now, I really don’t want to work there, but then I need the money, and have to make sure to be the one to quit first before anything else goes down. In the beginning she was more interested in my Florida school and not the undergrad. Explains a lot. I also do not want to work with people who take themselves too seriously to their point of stupidity, like this lady… I called the first interviewer back to say that I was confused about the position because the second interviewer said I was under qualified… When I mentioned where I worked, I made the mistake of going with the full name and not the abbreviation, which most non-industry people do not recognize. I was poking holes in my own script. She also started asking if I had a LinkedIn profile because there were a lot of people with my name… I tried to avoid giving her my middle initial, but I had too, and then figured with that, I would not get called back. She said she had another call that she had to attend to so she would email me about talking again. (I’m not holding my breath.)

I had another interview earlier today as a Sales Associate. It was supposed to be part-time, but the person arranging it was never really listening. And then now, full-time would actually be better. She sent me the address to the mall (who interviews at the mall when they don’t have a space there???) where I was to be interviewing and she got the name wrong. She also kept sending me the wrong confirmation times, and when I followed up with a call, she read through the exact same script as the initial call. (If she can get hired, why must I jump through hoops for an administrative position???) But, then again, I arrived late for the 9am interview, but the guy interviewing me does not know that because he wasn’t there. The organizer was supposed to move the times back an hour… He apologized for the unprofessionalism, but I mean it’s Florida, so my expectations are slowly lowering, and then I was late too, so I might be right where I belong… (If I got over my fear of stripping, I would be much better off, but I digress…) All I have to do now is pass a background check and drug test and I’ll be at work on Saturday. I’m not too concerned with passing the background check with my “alternate” resume, because the dates line up and I did not embellish. (Who would dismiss someone for dumbing down their resume???) The pay makes me wish I would’ve dropped out of high school. I am trying to make it about the money now, but if it was always about the money, I could have worked retail in between college and then been store manager once I graduated and be in a much better position than I am now, but I decided to be different. So, I also substitute teach, which requires a MA. So if I take the sales job, I would have to give up substitute teaching, which pays more per day when I get it and actually would not trash my resume. I do have this research intern thing I am doing, but it is so boring and confusing. The full-time sales role has benefits though, but I’ll probably have to pay a lot out of pocket since I am not corporate. Then I will also have to quit before they fire me for not meeting the quota. I hate sales. I actively try to discourage sales people from approaching me because I will not buy what I don’t want. I mean, I do not even enjoy browsing at the mall.

So that was the experiment. I think it proved me right, which makes me know longer regret going to UMiami, but does make me regret ever coming here in the first place, although it was only because I intended to go to Florida that I took the short-term jobs in DC and was able to put an economics degree on my resume. I regret coming here. The Florida chapter is closed, but I regret coming here and would strongly advise any and everyone against moving to Florida unless that have a job lined up in tourism or real estate.

I also cried today and thought about killing myself, but unfortunately, that is a normal day. If I did not have family to mourn me, a life insurance policy that would not pay out, and a fear of hell, I would probably be dead. I can probably eliminate the fear of hell though because seeing as my life is crumbling before my very eyes, and I have to hide the truth to get ahead, would my suicide really be my fault?

With all my debt its pointless now to try and work for the CIA despite the progress that I have made in my ability to manipulate words and people for personal gain. They would fear me becoming a double agent… I will leave it at that…