YEAH, YEAH, YEAH, ALI: Some perspective when you’re unemployed
Here I am again, with my usual blunt-as-a-baseball-bat hard-hitting truth and biting sarcasm for another episode of Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Ali’s drama. Since you haven’t been writing into me, I decided I would talk about myself until you do. If you choose to, write me a juicy question at email@example.com.
So, back to business. I am still unemployed and looking for work, dwindling down my savings and student loan money. Thankfully, for my family, I won’t be homeless, but I won’t be able to be independent either, at least for a while. I am sure that some of you experienced joblessness and/or are experiencing it now. Since I am on that topic, let’s talk about ugly, but necessary issues: being too old and overqualified.
I am not saying I am the best, most qualified candidate ever, but you would think that having years of experience in your field is positive, right? Unfortunately, I couldn’t be any more wrong. Being in the area I live currently, there is an excessive demand for teachers. The teaching profession here has an extremely high turnover rate due to the increased population of military personnel. In addition, there’s growth and development due to the area’s incoming major corporations. Therefore, there are more jobs and families moving to the area and greater chances of me getting a job.
My hopes of obtaining employment started diminishing this past month when the college I attend held a teacher expo. As I waited in line, I heard excited recruiters discuss job opportunities with student teachers, demanding their résumé. When I approached recruiters, I was met with instantaneous sighs and eye rolls; they wouldn’t ask for my résumé. When they did ask, the results were worse. One woman actually told time I’d never get a job with their district without even asking my qualifications or looking at my résumé. For some strange reason, she asked for it anyway, and once she glanced at my résumé, she tossed it aside. I should have just retracted it, but I was still in shock someone could be so brazen. Lastly, I received numerous nasty stares and was asked strangely, “You’re not from around here, are you?” I felt like it was a scene out of “Deliverance” and that hangings would commence.
I reflected upon this experience, thinking, “What could I have done that was so wrong?” My college supervisor and other professionals on that same day told me I was dressed professionally and my résumé was perfect. So what was the issue? I didn’t even open my mouth before the onslaught of negativity began. Then, I started comparing myself to my fellow classmates. Numerous female students were dressed extremely unprofessionally, like call girls with caked-on orange makeup, tons of eyeliner, low cut tops, and stilettos. Both male and female recruiters were respectful to my classmates and asked for their résumés. Then, I thought about the other students who were dressed professionally, but plainly. They were also shown as much respect as the others. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I was the oldest student there.
No one wants to teach an old dog new tricks. This experience made me recall all the lame excuses I heard, such as, “You’re overqualified, so why would you want this job?” I know this is detracting from my train of thought, but I have even heard men tell me “You’re too perfect. You must be flawed in some way I don’t know about.” And if you think dating and applying for jobs are different, guess again. The process seems extremely similar, especially if you use online dating sites. We will save that discussion for another time.
Anyway, I have applied for teaching jobs across the state and have heard absolutely nothing. My classmates have had interviews and even have jobs already. As people say, “Read the signs.” The signs are telling me to get the hell out of here, because there’s no reason or means to be here. Out of this experience, I have learned that it doesn’t matter why I am not getting a job; it’s just the fact that I am not employed right now. Whether it’s discrimination or fear of competition by being overqualified, the problem is still the same end result: being jobless.
Then again, I did get an amazing job offer yesterday. I was waiting in a car dealership for an oil change, and this older gentleman pulls up in a brand new Hyundai Genesis and walks in with his two little frou-frou doggies. His dogs run up to me, jump in my lap, and demand attention with puppy swats and kisses. This older gentleman proceeds to carry on a conversation with me as I pet his dogs, which were still at this point. I tell him I am a grad student, he asks if I am staying here after I graduate, and then I say probably not, because I need work. Then, he offers me a job, such an offer that I couldn’t refuse. You could see where this is going. So he says with his swarthy charm, “You could power spray my boats in your bathing suit for $12 an hour. You could also live free on my boat, too…” and then hands me his shady business card, which says, “Services with a Happy Ending!”
I clearly said no, and continuously laughed at every lame attempt he made at trying to convince me to give in to his offer, which included dinners, boats, and parties. For free housing in a condo or boat house (my choice), I just had to prance around in a bikini, making lasagna every once in a while, because Italian food sucks in the South – and, of course, selling my soul and probably some other things. At least I wasn’t too old and overqualified!
My suggestion is this – keep being yourself, because unlike Santa Claus, you won’t cease to exist because people stop believing in you. I am not saying don’t ever change a thing about yourself, because we all need to grow and improve, but as people say, “You have to believe in yourself or no one else will.” You may not literally disappear, but you will feel like it. Keep plugging away at your résumés and cover letters and use your connections! There is no reason to feel guilty about having connections to help you find work if you are qualified. However, there’s too much nepotism as it is, so don’t take advantage if you’re not qualified. Then you will become a part of the problem and karma, or whatever it may be, should bite you in the ass, hard.
It’s funny. As I was writing this article, I came across a Chuck Palahniuk quote on Facebook: “Losing all hope was freedom.” Although you may think that losing hope is awful, I do have freedom and so do you out there. Since I don’t have job that would keep me here, I can eventually go where I want. I don’t have to be stuck with a job I hate or a place where I am not accepted. And like relationships, I don’t have to be stuck with someone who doesn’t appreciate me for who I am.
What are your concerns, thoughts, or ideas? I would enjoy listening to someone else’s problems instead of dwelling on my own. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Ali Pica
Ali is a graduate student, educator, and writer. She enjoys creative writing, painting, cooking, and running.