Donate to Absurd Job Vacancies! Donate to Absurd Job Vacancies! Donate to Absurd Job Vacancies! Donate to Absurd Job Vacancies! Donate to Absurd Job Vacancies!


Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

Fuck UWM and all universities! UW-Milwaukee and their brethren are mediocre. Click banner ads on ClixSense instead; it's a better use of time than a college education in the UW System.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Three Intangibles That Determine Whether College Is Worth Anything

When I worked in Restaurant Operations (RO) at UWM July 2008 through August 2010, I also happened to be in grad school for public administration and worked as many hours as I could in the Panther Bookstore as its website administrator -- before Auxiliary Services consolidated the position under their webmaster when I graduated. My strategy was to use student loans to pay tuition and to use my wages to afford rent and groceries.

There were at least three non-student floor managers in RO at the time, and Lucy Xu was the one who micromanaged the most. The fact that micromanagers are less likely to be promoted makes it even more surprising that Lucy was promoted twice within three years: to Assistant Manager of Restaurant Operations in October 2010 and then to Assistant Manager of Retail Operations in October 2013.

So how did she stack the deck in her favor? Lucy is nothing else if not politically astute in office politics. By befriending students she favored and then placing her friends into positions of team leads and shift supervisors, Lucy leveraged her management position to flavor RO to her taste.

Now why in the world am I dragging Lucy into this narrative? Because when I asked her what I could improve to make myself a better candidate for promotion to dishroom unit lead, Lucy replied, "You lack the intangibles." I pressed for further information about these so-called "intangibles" and inquired, "How can I improve something that I can't measure? How about some useful feedback, other than saying my immutable qualities condemn me?"

It was straight out of a Greek drama in which the protagonist has a "tragic flaw" that prevents an otherwise heroic person from being ideal; and in the context of the story, this would mean a critical failure of some sort. My fatal shortcoming career-wise was my inability to be likable enough to be promoted -- and even though that was bad enough, the post-graduate world of unemployment actually made me miss working that crummy dishwasher job, where my contributions were partially valued instead of not at all!

Due to this lack of supervisory experience, my Restaurant Operations and eventual Pizza Hut jobs were discouraging employers from interviewing me for a stretch of almost a year. So with the exception of applying for government jobs, in which state or federal statute criminalizes misrepresentation of one's employment history or experience, I omitted those two palooka positions in my job applications and received literally double the interviews over the next year!

Those of you complaining about the omission -- hence revealed to illustrate a valuable point about white-collar employers exhibiting cavalier classism towards menial workers -- have nothing to balk about. You didn't hire me, so how were you harmed? I've since gone into business for myself as a writer: Co-authoring and editing Small Business Supercharged; subsequent titles are to come!

So what about manufacturing jobs? Few of those positions require the person to light up a room with interpersonal warmth. I eventually did work for an air pump assembly plant through a temp agency, but the repetition on the wrists was about twice what I anticipated -- 1500 units instead of 750 -- and I had a workers' compensation claim from tendon overuse syndrome.

The local doctor misdiagnosed this as tendonitis, when in reality it was tendonosis -- the difference being a lack of inflammation. Remember this if you ever visit a doctor for tendon-related pain! Understanding the addictive qualities of Big Pharma products, I refused prescription pain relievers; the constant pain had subsided into momentary discomfort when flexing at certain angles.

I could go on about all that I learned about the workers' compensation process, but this article is winding all over the place as it is. You can tell that I use this blog to organize my thinking at least as often I use it to promote an agenda. If I somehow misplace notes on my computer, then I can usually find one of my earlier blog posts to remind me I was working on some facet of a topic and have something similar in my follow-up bucket list.

AlterNet stalwart Leo Gerard wrote an article (rightfully) decrying the loss of manufacturing jobs via NAFTA policies that favor U.S. importation of goods over exportation. However, Gerard finished by repeating the misguided line touted by higher education hucksters: More university students, more university funding.

I have a newsflash for anyone who gives a blanket endorsement to charming as many high school graduates as possible into the various university systems: Universities guarantee only what you'll give, not what you'll get.

Now that I've been leading you along through this article, where are the "intangibles" mentioned in the article title? I mentioned Xu of Restaurant Ops to establish a context: She hinted at the importance of impression management in everything one does but declined to give specifics. Only after three years of arduous trial, error, and meticulous notes did I arrive at the Holy Grail of interpersonal mediation.

A liberal arts college degree doesn't mean access to a non-minimum wage job these days. It potentially could for someone who has ALL the intangibles of:

1) Charisma by which to build relevant social capital / make and maintain the "right" connections;

2) A mind that rapidly assimilates new concepts so you can cut down study time -- to network and to get much-needed rest -- without sacrificing knowledge retention; and

3) A life of low-enough stress where one can think clearly, as opposed to being a zombie from working all day, completing three-hour evening lectures, and squeezing in time to make progress on five assignment papers of about 10 pages each -- practically every week.

That's a lot of work just to get nothing in terms of occupational advancement. I've since given purpose to my "meaningless sacrifice" -- I now drag universities through the mud and promote trade school whenever I can. The pay is crap, but the satisfaction is gold!

While I still struggle with being assertive without being overbearing, I have pinpointed the most important areas of impression management. And frankly, these will no longer be an issue once I can rely on my writing and the power of ideas to generate revenue instead of having to woo petty people and coddle their fragile feelings.

Have you noticed how some people tend to imagine offense at the most innocuous things? Few have thick skin these days. To win the career war, you need to be aggressively likable while somehow seeming to not be trying; people generally disrespect someone who appears to be undergoing emotional labor.

In summary, most college-bound people believe they posses the above three characteristics to sufficient extent, when in fact they do not and therefore graduate without professional employment or the means to gain the same. Vo-tech school is the most reliable means of gaining a job that isn't typically dominated by minors.

Many are paid to ignore this conditional caveat because it is counter to their livelihoods as educators and other college staff. Voices such as mine are the unfunded contrarians running up against the billion-dollar machine.

Small Business Supercharged

No comments:

Post a Comment