Logon to a job website. Search for recent jobs. Find one with potential. Scroll down to “requirements”: 3-5 years of experience. *sigh*
Other times I seem to find the perfect entry-level position. I send them my application and wait. I dream peacefully of a more certain future. I wait. I find more jobs with less potential. I apply to a few. I check my email multiple times a day just to see if that perfect employer wants to set up an interview. I receive “not selected to proceed” notifications from other potential jobs, but no matter, because the possibility of that perfect position is still alive. I keep waiting. I don’t apply to anything for a week or two, because really what’s the point? Then one day, about a month after I applied, an email pops up in my inbox. “Thank you for your interest in our company; however the position has been filled.” Disbelief. Disappointment. Realization that of course I didn’t get an interview—I applied to that job ages ago. The next few days pass in a haze of frenzied job searching. I apply to jobs that I don’t really even want because I don’t know what else to do.
So it made for a nice change when a potential employer actually contacted me. My online resume had hit buzz words on some HR search engine and he sent me an email. A new position had opened up at his company. It wasn’t exactly close to home, but it wasn’t that far away either. It would mean some commuting, but that wouldn’t be so bad. What kind of job was this, anyway? A marketing job. Marketing—maybe it was writing commercials, designing billboards, maintain social media—I could do that. I decided to accept their request for an interview. I felt powerful, valuable, worthy.
I walked into the lobby for my interview and found myself in a room full of well-dressed people. “Are you here for the job interview?” asked the woman seated behind a small desk in the corner. The interview? “Yes, I am,” I replied. “Okay. Find a seat and fill this out.” She handed me personality assessment. There weren’t actually any seats to be found in that lobby, at least not any that didn’t have someone in a suit-jacket filling out a personality assessment. There had to be about 20 people in that little room. What kind of interview is this? I filled out the paperwork and handed it back to the receptionist.
After a few minutes, we were herded into a small conference room and debriefed: this business sold life insurance and was looking for a few new salespeople. This would involve travelling to private homes and selling policies to people in their own living rooms. Umm…what? I am not a salesperson. I do not like forcing people to make decisions. I am also very good at getting lost, so asking me to drive around to unknown locations probably wasn’t a good idea. Why am I here? The current employees finished with their presentations and opened the floor for questions. Then they let us go saying, “We will call you sometime this evening if you are chosen for a private interview. I crowded out the door with the rest and drove off with one thing on my mind: I do not want this job.
I did not get a phone call that afternoon. I wondered if they would call those who were not chosen to let them know. I did not get a phone call the next morning. Maybe they would send me a rejection email. I’ve received lots of those. That afternoon, however, my phone rang: I had been chosen for a private interview, could I come in tomorrow? Yes, I could. The internal argument started once I hung up the phone. You don’t want this job. But the job wanted me. You aren’t a salesperson. They thought I was. Maybe they were right. You have no experience with this. I had no experience with anything. Why not give this opportunity a chance?
The next morning I chose a professional-looking outfit, straightened my hair, and even dabbed on some makeup. I drove back to the life insurance office and walked into a much emptier lobby. I was told that of all the people who had filled out the personality assessments, I was one of three who had made it this far. That’s pretty cool. Perhaps I was valuable.
I was led into a small office where I was interviewed by a balding man in a dark suit. I have since forgotten the majority of the questions he asked me, but one stood out: What motivates you? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What drives you? I don’t know. That’s why I am writing blog: I am lost, at least for now. I do not know what exactly I want out of life or what I want to do with it. I do not know who I want to be. I skirted the question, but my interviewer kept coming back to it. Finally, I told him I was motivated by what I do not know. The search for who I am and who I am becoming is my reason for being. I get out of bed in the morning because I want to see what little discoveries are in store for that day. Also, if I stayed in bed all day I would be bored out of my mind.
My interviewer did not like that answer, “But what drives you?” he repeated. That’s when it hit me: he’s going for someone who wants to make money. The ideal candidate would be someone who could be relied on to make sales simply for the commissions. I am not that person. I am not right for this job and I definitely do not want it. I told my interviewer that I was driven by the desire to make my parents proud of me. He nodded. It wasn’t the answer he wanted, but it would do. He had discovered what he needed to know. A few minutes later, he walked me out to the lobby. I thanked him for his time and strolled out the door, never to be heard from (or contacted) again.
I’m glad, now, that I did go to that interview. Not because I wanted the job, but because it made me realize what I didn’t what and who I don’t want to be and sometimes that is just as important.