Applying for jobs online is deceptively easy, and I think that ease gives the applicant a sense of entitlement he does not deserve. I've lived here in my new digs for a little while now and have applied for many, many online jobs. The process has become easier and faster, and I therefore have lead myself to believe that it's only a matter of time before a lucrative contract pings into my inbox. Weeks of no responses from any potential employer (not a one) is teaching me that perhaps that's not the case, and has me exploring other, less desirable options. An anecdote:
A few days ago, I pitched this blog as a column of sorts to a website. I wrote a lengthy, but informative email explaining the tongue-in-cheek Dream, Goal, Plan format, and sent a long a few entries as samples, as well as repeatedly including the web address. After that was sent into cyberspace, I gathered up my stack of boring resumes (the ones that, instead of saying "Writer, Researcher, Funny Guy" say, "Cashier, cashier, clerk, key-holder, cashier") and headed out to drop resumes off door to door to all the businesses within walking distance. There's nothing quite so demoralizing as dropping off a resume to a place you'd never want to shop in, much less work at, but your options are dwindling and so you have to just do it.
I went into a clothing store that specializes in expensive athletic wear (I shouldn't say which one but it's not Lululemon, it's actually Roots). Anyway, so the bored clerk engaged me in small talk and said, "Do you own a lot of [athletic store] clothes?" And I said something vague about liking their brand but not having any of their "exciting new line" yet and the clerk said, "Well, you should know if we hire you, that we want all of our employees exclusively in our brand." This is not a cheap brand, I should mention (think of an Eddie Bauer-type store, because Roots is what I'm referencing and they're close) and so I jokingly said, "It sounds like you have to spend a lot of money to work here!" and the clerk was not amused and said, "We don't see it that way." It was then that I should have grabbed my resume out of his hands and sped off on a motorcycle, but instead I smiled thinly (meaning I looked really thin) and left to continue to ply other merchants with evidence of my "work experience."
When I returned home, with no clearer prospects, two hours later, a prompt reply from the website awaited me. It was your generic rejection form letter with a personalized note indicating to me that the person who reads the pitches didn't give mine more than a cursory glance and maybe skimmed the part about "Dream, Goal, Plan" but missing the part about it being funny because she wrote, "Sorry James. We're not looking for anything in the vein of life-coaching." That's when, like a drunken Scotsman back home from the pub, it hit me.
Dream: Become a Life Coach.
Goal: Achievable. Though I've never consulted with one personally, I've met a few self-described "Life Coaches" and it seems to me they've got the biggest racket running! Using buzzwords like "self-actualization", "creative-enabling" and "bi-weekly consultation fee", they rake in your money without actually doing anything for you. I could do that! They promise vague things like, "I will help you remember the essence of you are meant to be", but they don't get you the job interview, the house, the partner. They bolster you up to go after those things yourself, I suppose, but it means they don't have to do squat. And I'm sure people who are Life Coaches believe they are providing a valuable service and that they were destined for this "work", but to me it's a bit like aspiring to be a busboy. "I don't want to prepare the delicious meal, and I don't want to eat it myself, but please, God, let me set the table." But they're profiting from this deception and I want in!
Plan: Create my own Life Coaching program using the breadth of my wisdom, knowledge, and experience. Build the foundation of my self-empowerment empire on strong tenets like:
You are the biggest waste of your own time. For instance, stop folding underwear. The old James spent precious minutes of every laundry load, carefully folding a pair of underpants like it was a pocket square. The fact is, my underwear is getting placed in the drawer where it will rest until I literally strap my balls into it. Let's not get precious. By the way, do ladies fold their tiny underwear? Particularly thongs and the like? They would be so small without a person in them, I can't imagine they take up any space. Feel free to call me about this issue, female acquaintances. I know you're dying to tell me. What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Wasted time.
Treat yourself, but treat others in kind. When the cheque comes in a restaurant, don't waste time pretending to look for your wallet in hopes of avoiding payment. Look your friend square in the eye, place your hand firmly on top of the bill and say, "You can't put a price on our friendship, and I hardly think quibbling over who gets what item should impede this wonderful time we're having together. The fact is, I pre-authorized my credit card to be charged while you were absorbed in the menu earlier. I will incur the charges today and I don't want to hear another word about it. Now let's burn off some of this deliciousness, Friend! Race you to the parking lot!" Then run like hell because of course you didn't pre-authorize your credit card, but the confident way you handled the billfold will suggest to the server that you've placed some form of payment there and they're unlikely to stop you at the door. If they figure out your little game and you are stopped at the door, laugh it off! Say, "Ah, you've cottoned on to our little ruse! Clever girl, Amber! You deserve this crisp, one hundred dollar..." then bite down on the blood packs you tucked into your mouth (always bring blood packs for business and casual lunches) then stand perfectly still as blood pours from your mouth. While they rush to call medical personal, resume your run for it.
Find your tribe. Though this endless process of job application should have me sour and grim, I've been anything but thanks to friends old and new. The other night, my friend Steph and I got drunk watched this Dateline about a man who was murdered in cold blood by his own son and the son's friend. The lead detective set up an elaborate sting to catch the son based on his hunch. Keith Morrison, the host of the program, asked the detective, in hindsight, how sure he was that his hunch would pay off. The detective demurred modestly and said, "Oh, about 30 percent sure." And Keith Morrison said, "30 percent! But if this plan were to fail, if you were wrong. If you couldn't prove this man was brutally slain by his own son's hand, you've given yourself a 70 percent chance of being a goat." Of being a goat. We rewound it several times and laughed until we cried. Of being a goat. It's moments like that you can't apply for, that no paycheque is big enough to afford. Of being a goat. Life's a game that requires some amount of strategy, I'm sure, but with plays like that, who needs a coach?