March 26th, 2012

Rants from the Rat-Race: No Longer Accepting Applications

Be careful what you rant about.

Two short weeks ago, frustrated by an ongoing quest to fill a vacancy for an office assistant, I unleashed a bit of advice into the universe. ‘Embrace the madness’, was the basic gist. After weeks of receiving odd resumes and off-color cover letters, I was ready to just admit defeat and welcome any degree of abnormality that our pool of applicants had to offer. Little did I know that the quirky and cute oddities clogging up our HR inbox could get worse. So very, very much worse.

So, it’s Friday morning and I’m expecting the usual when I finally shift my focus toward the dozen-or-so emails from potential co-workers. The usual, that is, being anything but. In previous weeks, we’ve sifted through a pool of applicants wrought with… special skills. Need a Wiccan incantation expert? How about a former minor league baseball player in desperate need of insurance coverage? We gotcha covered. But just a normal, low-key person to quietly file, type and answer the phone with a small degree of politeness? Nada.

All the insanity is, thus far, blissfully remote. Email is the beefy security guard that allows us to keep the weirdoes at cyber-arms reach. There are no faces to these names, nothing to stop us from thumb-tacking the strangest resumes up in the break room and LOL-ing about them endlessly in inter-office IM sessions. It’s all fun and games, until things just get creepy.

I click, click, click through the latest flood of emails, marking a few prospects that don’t instinctively frighten me on multiple levels. Finally, I stumble across a resume time-stamped 3:32 am. Who’s sending out resumes at 3:32 am?

“SUBJECT: Office Assistant Position/Resume/Photo Attached”

Wha-wha-what? Photo attached? Someone is sending photos along with their resume? Last time I checked, secretary-types aren’t required to submit headshots alongside their employment histories. It’s okay, I think, just take a deep breath. Maybe this particular applicant has just seen one too many episodes of Mad Men and is looking to land a job based on cup size?

I check the name signed (all lowercase) at the bottom of the email… we’ll call him Todd. So clearly, ‘Todd’ is unlikely to be our office’s very own version of Christina Hendricks. I’ll just ignore the pic and start with the resume. That’s probably safest… “Personal Trainer, expert at engineering healthy meals.” (Really? Not just ‘cooking’ them?) While I doubt that we’ve budgeted funds for a company nutritionalist to come in and chef us all up some daily grub, I press on.

There’s nothing to indicate that Todd is going to be a good match for the position we’re looking to fill. I should just delete this one and move on. There’s no need to open that attachment, no need to even run the risk of this being a repeat of the incident where some friends tricked me into surfing Chat Roulette on my work computer. Just move on, I tell myself. Let it go.

But who am I kidding? I double click, and a grainy photo pops up on my screen. Whew –no guerilla porn warfare. Just one trying-too-hard fella. Orange tank top artfully stretched across a wax-burned chest. One hand aiming an iPhone into a bathroom mirror, the other arm raised in classic ‘look at my bicep’ pose. Earbuds inserted, cords dangling. Chin jutted toward the mirror and upper lip curled in a snarl. Or a smirk. Is this guy smirking at me? After a solid minute of trying to ascertain if the expression is one of desperation or unequivocal confidence, I finally click delete, delete, delete. But I know that there are some things that you just can’t un-see.

I’m really beginning to wonder if I’d be better off, working about four hours late every night and just doing my own damn filing…

— Kerri


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