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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.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Psychology of the Combative Job Applicant

Iconoclasts and admirers of deviance alike shall enjoy today's post! In my transgressive crusade to expose the declining returns of a university education, I came across a staffer bemoaning how increasingly common it is for a non-placed job applicant to snap at the third-party staffer -- either as a proxy for or in addition to the client company who hired someone else, for whom one might anticipate anger to be directed towards.

And would you know it? Many of those being told to "not call us" staffers are, in fact, college-educated and losing their ability to be polite following a harrowing rejection streak. There's only so much deflation of one's self-esteem one can take before thinking of ways to inflict emotional abuse on the rejecting parties!

The psychology of job applicants -- even interviewees -- who say offensive things to and/or about recruiters and interviewers goes something like this:

1) "I'm applying for a job as a form of ritual psychodrama, to say that I never give up (even if not currently receiving unemployment benefits);"

2) "But I understand from many prior negative outcomes when I had been polite that today's job application or interview will be no different;"

3) "Ergo, I will purposefully offend those who view my application and/or interview me so that I may offend them before they offend me through inevitable rejection. I'll no longer be exclusively a victim but also a victimizer!"

This phenomenon is understandable to those who have been implied over and over -- even told outright -- that they are worthless. Being generally successful people, scads of human resources personnel cannot decipher why an employment applicant would lash out against those who nominally hold the keys to his or her economic prosperity.

As I had told Staffing Talk, chronically unchosen job applicants no longer see themselves as credible candidates for employment; they are merely following a social script to position themselves into a line of communication by which they direct verbal -- and occasionally violent, overtly criminal -- abuse at anyone and everyone in HR to share the misery.

Staffing Talk readers did not take this revelation very well. In fact, those who didn't bury their heads in the sand took a second to downvote me, as shown in the screen capture below. I feel honored to have ruffled their feathers by breaking their echo chamber!

Staffing Talk columnists and readers alike disliked me for shattering their echo chamber.

It is for this reason that interviewers are loathe to produce business cards during first-round interviews: Angry also-rans would have a direct line to air their grievances -- if not to the interviewer, then to his or her jaded receptionist, who more than likely has learned to be a virtual roadblock for pesky callers by directing to voice mail or by purportedly "taking a message."

Staffers are especially prone to Parthian shots from jilted jobbers. Being one of the few regular HR-related contacts the job seeker has, a candidate facing a continued crush of unemployment may believe the recruiter and/or staffing agency are purposely not recommending him or her to suitable positions!

Next thing you know, the exasperated employment searcher is asking the recruiter how s/he -- the presently under-served labor consumer -- may someday acquire the staffer's very job! Or more than likely, the question is how to best qualify to work in another instantiation of the recruiter's; but most people asked by an unemployed person how to get into their line of work are viewed very suspiciously as potential backstabbers who'll do anything to get ahead.

I know the staffing recruiters I've worked with -- QTI, QPS, and especially the self-important egomaniacs at the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation -- have reacted rather defensively when I inquired about which jobs comprised their career path up through their present position. One DVR agent said, "Oh, so you think you can do my job?" I replied, "With enough training? Yes!"

That was after they had failed to place me during all my college years and for over a year thereafter, so I had nothing to lose by springing that tactless question upon them. That person in particular was far more upset than I had imagined, so I was satisfied to know that if I ever wanted to burn someone in human resources, then all I need is to ask just how they qualified into their position!

As a final scratch at DVR, I quit their program to forcibly close my case file just weeks before Pizza Hut hired me. It was my outside initiative which earned me the job, so I made damned sure DVR wasn't going to steal credit! They had nothing to do with my applications to fast food restaurants; they had discouraged me from trying those places; and no one from DVR had contacted Pizza Hut. The victory was all mine!

My time at Pizza Hut is enough for a lifetime of tales, critical analysis, and subversive entertainment! That job was the worst I ever had, but that's another anthology of stories altogether.

Staffing Talk
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