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    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    The last time I interviewed for a job

    The last time I interviewed for a job, before my recent bout of unemployment, was in 1996. Since then I have simply had jobs thrust upon me and have taken them either enthusiastically or with great trepidation, but never without the realization that I could work without slogging through the very questionable aspects of job hunting and acceptance. This did two things. It gave me work stability and also completely ruined any knowledge I had about how to get a job the old fashioned way.

    Since being unemployed I have had two major jobs I was counting on fall through, either due to client shifting of timeline or budgetary necessity. I have had my first interview in almost 15 years, but having become more “rounded” in experience, my resume now lacks a certain forward momentum along career goal lines. In some ways I think it makes me more valuable, but in others it looks as though I have no job related goals.

    Since I began working at the age of 14, I have been a concession stand worker at a community swimming pool, a dishwasher, deli worker and bagboy in a grocery store, a theater usher and projectionist. In college I ran an art gallery, designed numerous underground magazines and had a short-lived radio show, while working the weekend graveyard shift at Kinko’s. While in college I also ran for student body president and lost, twice. I’ve been a graphic designer, art director, technical surveyor, project manager, and a file/office manager in a Law Firm. I have been a post production assistant on a TV pilot that didn’t get picked-up and if it had I would have been hired as a writer on the show. I was a co-writer on a short film now making the festival circuit and I was an AD on a short film that won Sundance. I also produced a short film in Iceland. I stopped counting at forty the number of short films I worked on in grad school. I did everything on them from catering, art direction and cinematography to directing and writing.

    I currently have a number of teleplays and screenplays in various stages of development. I have two television pilots with Olmos Productions, (Edward James Olmos’ production company based at ABC), for SyFy Channel, as well as a screenplay at Universal and another television pilot currently being developed for Bryan Singer’s production company through TEWET3, LLC. Unfortunately there is no development money anymore, so all of the work on these was and is for free. My last job, was as an assistant to the producers of a German movie shot in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, but both of them are in the Arts.

    I have lived in New York City and Los Angeles, but now find myself returned home to Tennessee. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tennessee and Knoxville, but as far as the arts are concerned there are only a few companies producing the bulk of the output, and most of those jobs are either taken or require more straight lined experience than my resume indicates.

    So, back here, as I write this, I have just finished looking at all of the new job postings available in the area. There were roughly a two hundred new postings, and because I am not a medical professional, a certified project manager or a willing driver of vehicles of van size or larger, I did not find anything I was qualified for. Also, I am not willing to take surveys for a living or “work-from-home” for some ponzy scheme.

    I do this every morning, looking for both professional opportunities and retail possibilities that I think that I could endure knowing my boss would most likely still have pimples. I have found and applied for five “professional” jobs, learned that five more had already been filled and have filled out applications online for Target, Books-A-Million, Regal Cinemas, Borders and hand filled applications for Earth Fare and Barnes and Noble. I don’t intend to stop there; I just went for places I liked first. I would have applied for Best Buy, but if you apply online, there has to be a specific opening you are looking for before you can fill out the application.

    So far I have to say Target has the best online job application site. It allows you to apply at up to three different locations for up to three different jobs at one time, thus saving you the extra two and a half hours it would take to apply for them separately.

    The only problem with someone with my level of education applying for these jobs is that my resume no longer contains customer service experience ala retail since I finished doing those kinds of jobs when I graduated UT. Also, none of these jobs ask for your resume, just for bits and pieces that hardly sum up who you are or what you are capable of. Almost universally, when applying online, you also have to take the Unicru personality test. I have taken it many times now and can tell you that I “strongly disagree” with this.

    While I could download the cheat key, which is posted on many online job-hunting message boards, I have no desire to cheat on this test. I am me, and I can’t hide or lie about that. If I did, I might as well stop including any education past high school, and posting only the jobs I had back in the 90s, which contained retail experience. I won’t do that either, because I have a master’s degree and I still owe $136,000.00 for it. It cost me too much to just ditch and hide it like a dirty little secret.

    According to the Unicru cheating sites, there are only two right answers, “Strongly Agree” and “Strongly Disagree”, which is why I am most likely not being called for interviews for menial labor. I don’t have such polarized opinions to questions such as:

    You get mad at yourself when you make mistakes
    You’d rather blend into a crowd than stand out
    You look back and feel bad about things you’ve done
    In school or on a job, you could be doing better than you are
    When you go someplace, you are never late
    You have no big worries
    You take the lead in conversations or discussions
    It is maddening when the court lets guilty criminals go free
    In groups, someone else usually takes the lead
    You are a good reader
    You do not like small talk
    You do all you can do to win
    You do not like to take orders
    You have trouble dealing with sudden changes

    There is one other aspect to my working life that is a bit unfortunate. Even though I am currently unemployed, I cannot receive any benefits either from California, or here in Tennessee because I have quit every job willingly, usually for a better opportunity, or in one case a hostile work environment, and I was almost entirely self-employed in Los Angeles. The total amount of work I did that wasn’t self-employed was five months over three years working on film or TV productions. I would have done more of that work, but it wasn’t enough money to pay the bills.

    So, I guess in the end I’m getting a little frustrated with my current hunt for employment. It is said a person averages one interview for every ten applications or resumes they submit to possible employers. So, hopefully the one I sent out today will get a response. Until them, I will continue to scour the Internet for opportunities and begin the process of making generic cover letters so I might snail spam the local business community with my two-page life. I just hope that someone eventually looks past the individual entries on my resume and sees the whole picture. That, I would “Strongly Agree” with.