It's a tough time to be looking for a job. I have it on good authority that 'the game has changed'. I have no idea what this means, but it sounds scary enough -in a blockbuster-trailer sort of way- to warrant a post. I can just imagine the film preview: Unemployment, the game has changed....You can try but you won't succeed. Terrifying. Really puts climate change and the incredibly ill-mannered people I met during my night out on the town into perspective.
The thing is, in a city where people file their teeth before interviews, it is difficult to imagine how things could get worse. Already employers test us verbally, mathematically, socially, psychometrically, and emotionally. They hurl abuse at us 'to see how we cope', and infer psychotic tendencies from our handwriting. And all that's just before deciding whether or not to intern us.
In some industries, the practice is to leave you in a small room with other case studies, in the hope that someone will do something truly weird. In one instance, I hear that a young gentleman, desperate to show off his creative side, hopped about like a pigeon, pencils sticking out of his nostrils, before defecating in the plastic flowers. Impressive, one would have thought. Yet he came second. I suspect that hypnosis will be introduced soon -for all we know they use it already- to help the Gatekeepers assess how much juice they'll be able to get out of us before we fry. (Interestingly, those of my friends who are not unemployed are fried).
As for the competition, not only are they getting more toxic by the year, their category is swelling to include those who already have jobs. On one occasion a friend of mine started receiving hate mail from an individual -the Witch- who was already within the structure that she was considering joining. So eager was the Witch to be in pole position when it came to promotion time that she couldn't bear the idea of her boss employing anyone new. The situation was all the more ludicrous as none of them could aspire to much more than the status of Glorified Intern anyway.
Despite the fact that the whole process is obviously unfair and absurd, most people insist on being depressingly earnest in their approach to finding a job. They obsess about filling their time 'constructively', and engage in tedious activities with which they feverishly decorate their CVs, in an endless quest to outdo each other. Now that The Game has Changed, God knows what new feats of boredom they will put themselves through in order to impress the Gatekeepers. Though seen as there is very little chance of any one getting a new job in the near future, my learned advice to all would be to develop a useful vice or two in order to deal with the frustration of Terminal Failure. I've heard networking - also known as legal stalking- is the rage. Personally, I'd rather eat someone else's shoe, but each to his own.
By expecting us to be robots, employers -and ultimately society- are shooting themselves in the foot. They are in fact encouraging us be one-dimensional, selfish, and ignorant, as a result of which every one loses out. There are no such things as tunnel visionaries. No one ever invented anything interesting by following the Rules. But more importantly, the system has killed my social life. Indeed, I have fewer and fewer people to talk to as CV Builders are almost invariably raging bores.
Like all painful processes, unemployment has a flip side. It is an opportunity. For a lot of people unemployment will be the first time in their lives they won't have any one telling them what to do, or what to think. Surplus time could be used to examine life, and redefine priorities. The world is in urgent need of new ways of doing things, endeavours founded on compassion, not blind profit-chasing.
And if all else fails, remember that the Meek -not the Geek- shall inherit the Earth.