March 12th, 2012

Rants from the Rat Race: Normal Need Not Apply

It’s cold out there. Not literally. Just in that metaphorical way that our college professors warned us about when they did their utmost to dissuade us from majoring in things like philosophy or art history or… heaven help us, creative writing. But liberal arts disciples aren’t the only people who are suffering in this upended port-a-potty formerly known as the American economy. The ambitious lawyers and financial prodigies are also quickly learning that a few letters tacked onto their names doesn’t guarantee them anything other than a greater volume of mail from some guy named “Stafford.” Am I the only one who was shocked and disappointed to learn that “loan” didn’t actually mean “free money?”

Times is tough, and my generation seems to find itself ill-prepared for the failure of prospective employers to recognize us as the wonderful snowflakes that our kindergarten teachers assured us we were. It takes more than degrees, more than firm handshakes, and (forgive me Madame Steinem), more than strategically revealing blouses, to find a decent job these days. You need an edge, something that makes you and your one-page-single-spaced-references-upon-request resume to get yourself through any front door in town. Get a gimmick, and get one fast.

When my co-worker and I recently decided to toss an ad for a job opening out into the world, we prepped for a decent level of interest. We failed, however, to anticipate the chaotic influx reminiscent of thousands of 3-D killer fish converging on a single drop of blood. We likely have no one to blame but ourselves. I mean, we posted the job opening on Craigslist. Craigslist, for God’s sake! Two clicks away from ads for happy endings and black market organs.

Is it any wonder we were contacted by someone clearly suffering from multiple personality disorder, who insisted on sending us six resumes, each with a different name at the top? Do we really have any right to be shocked at the number of applicant email addresses that included references like “420” or “MILF?” Who knew there were so many unemployed crazies out there? And how very unfortunate that many of them now have our company’s contact information programmed into their daily Alex Jones email forwarding rituals. Yeah… our bad.

But then, who are we to judge?

Maybe all this apparent crazy is just a new form of resume gimmick. And who’s to say it’s such a terrible idea? Instead of listing snoozer details like CPR certifications or volunteer efforts (lies, all lies) under a “personal interests” section on resumes, maybe it’s time to embrace the insanity and start spicing up the standard job app process. Tell your potential boss why you’d be the perfect person to liven up the next holiday Christmas party with your ability to open beer bottles with various unsuspecting parts of your body. Offer up an anecdote on where you were on 9/11. Tell the real reason why you left your last job (you sacrificed your own livelihood because you didn’t want to give in and finally stab that tuna-fish smacking chick in the cubicle next to you. You’re a peaceful person like that.) Save the spiel about your life-long dreams and skip right to spilling details on your vivid night terrors instead. Pluck the pity strings, by providing your older brother’s much more impressive resume alongside your own, with a cover letter describing your complicated relationship with your parents.

Embrace your batshit bonkers side while you can. Because once you’re installed back in the rat race, you’re going to have to start hiding it again, along with the rest of us.

Previously on Rants from the Rat Race: Face, Meet Filing Cabinet

— Kerri

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