Once again, much to my shock and surprise, I found myself back on the job market. The last time I had to look for a job was approximately fifteen years ago. The methods for seeking employment had changed considerably since 2003 — and it was a bit daunting.
First of all — and this was the scariest aspect of the whole procedure — fifteen years ago, I wasn't 56. Looking for a job when you are within ten years of retirement age is tough. The reality is: the current world of graphic design is a young(er) person's world. And the actual process does not lend itself favorably to those of us with — shall we say — "experience." You see, there is no longer the opportunity to call a prospective employer and set up a face-to-face interview. Hell, you can't even drop by an office and present your resume because that office is on the fortieth floor of an office building and the lobby of that building is patrolled by uniformed guards that won't let you past the reception desk unless you actually know someone up in those lofty heights. Thanks Mohamed Atta, you motherfucker.
So, the preferred avenue at which potential employment is sought is now — ta daa! — the internet. Yep, websites like Monster and Indeed and Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn are the way to go. A bunch of impersonal, electronic equivalents of the newspaper want ads or that bulletin board down at the local supermarket. Every morning (I was still waking up at the same time I did when I was working), I'd diligently check each one of these websites and apply to each and every applicable position — and even a few that were slightly outside of my realm of expertise. I posted a reworked, streamlined version of my Curriculum Vitae, featuring only bulleted lists of my four most recent positions, edited down from a thirty-five year career of graphic design, illustration, publishing, advertising, printing.... I should probably turn this into a bulleted list. Once a job is applied for electronically, the next step is waiting. And waiting. And waiting. You see, there is literally no contact with those nameless, faceless folks who are offering jobs. There is no room for follow-up. There's no "hey, did you get my resume and can we discuss my qualifications?" There's no way of knowing if there even is a job available or if these folks are just testing the waters. Or worse... someting more malevolent.
On the final day of my tenure with my most recent employer, I received an email from one of the many companies to which I electronically sent my resume. The person identified herself as a recruiter from Tesla Motors. I vaguely remember applying for a graphic designer opening offered by an ad on one of the many online job boards. The recruiter, Sarah, invited me to an interview via Google Hangouts, a mode of communication with which I was unfamiliar. I figured it's some new technology that "the kids" use, so I better learn fast, lest I appear out of touch with current technology. Some quick research and a bit of "trial-and-error" revealed that, once I was logged in to my Google account, I had access to Google Hangouts. I'm pretty savvy with other forms of social media, so I was able to figure out Google Hangouts in no time. I contacted Sarah at the appointed time and we began what looked like a Facebook Messenger session (or the old AOL IM, for those of you closer to my age). I thought it was a bit odd that Sarah was using a "GMail" account and not an official "Tesla Motors" email address, but when the chat turned to real graphic design questions, I changed my focus to the more important subject at hand. I was asked about my past design experience and the interviewer soon posed questions related to logo design and the entire creative process, using terms that were specific to the industry. Next, I was briefly informed that this was a "work-from-home" position and would require me to outfit a home office, then the conversation quickly turned to comfortable salary and benefits. After nearly an hour online, Sarah said she would present a transcript of our conversation to the hiring manager and I should "stand-by." And "stand-by" I did. For twenty minutes... while I was in the train station waiting for a train. (That's right, I participated in this entire interview on my cellphone!) Finally, Sarah returned to our "chat" and told me I had been hired by Tesla Motors. Then, she immediately sent me a lengthy list of everything that I would be required to purchase for my home office, including a Mac Pro and software, a Wacom tablet, a high-resolution flatbed scanner, a color laser printer and sundry other items that amounted to the contents of the average Staples store. I asked if I could have a phone number to speak to someone regarding this rather large purchase and eventual reimbursement. She assured me I would be speaking to someone soon, but failed to supply a phone number of any kind, instead, opting to supplement her list of essential equipment. I waited for a pause in the texts, quickly interjecting that I didn't think this was the job for me. She only replied "Okay" and disconnected from our conversation without inquiring about a reason for my change of heart. I was honestly confused and I second guessed my decision. Did I just turn down a job? But, the more I thought about it, the less sense the whole thing made.
A few weeks later, after sending countless (and I do mean countless!) applications to more employment offers than I can remember, I received an email from one "Michelle Technow," a recruiter from TSC Apparel. TSC was one of the many companies that was advertising for a graphic designer on several of the job-seeking websites. In the email, Michelle indicated that she wished to conduct an interview via Google Hangouts. I immediately became suspicious. Again, she was using a GMail email address instead of one from the company with whom she claimed to be associated.
This time, I did a little pre-interview investigating. I went to the TSC website. They are indeed a legitimate company that supplies clothing to businesses on a wholesale level. I navigated to the "Careers" page of their website, where I was greeted by this message...
Holy shit! This is unbelievable! I took a screenshot of the message and quickly opened a Google Hangouts window to let Michelle Technow that I was ready to proceed with my interview. And I played dumb.
I waited a minute, then I sent the screen shot to her, along with a question about it.
And, again, I waited for a reply from Michelle Technow.... or whoever the fuck was on the other end of this bogus chat. I got nothing. As a matter of fact, the bright and colorful avatar of her (alleged) face went dim. I noticed that my message failed to send.
What on earth is this bullshit? Have people really sunk this low? Scamming some poor sap who is trying to find a job? Really? Really?? That's on the same level as kicking a puppy or cursing at a baby (and we certainly know that people do that!). Makes me lose my faith in humanity. Wait a second.... I have no faith in humanity. I haven't for a long time.
Anyway, after a long, tedious and very discouraging period of job hunting, I am now, once again, employed.
And I'm staying away from Google Hangouts.