Skills to Pay the Bills

I have readers in Germany. Go figure? Thank you for continuing to read this blog, even though it has been neglected. This post is dedicated to you.

It has been nearly a month, I believe, since I last posted–not good. I remember when I had first come back from France, I had written an entry about the obligation that we owe to our own health and happiness to find time to go for walks, cook, explore something that we are curious about, and I have not been following my own advice!

I had also stated that “Can you repeat that please,” would become a different sort of travel blog that would highlight the beauties of living in Fargo, which, contrary to many beliefs, does have a lot to offer, perhaps not much more than pain when winter is at its worst, but yes. It is worth visiting, and perhaps even inhabiting for some time. I have not regretted my experience here.

Post grad plans. Post grad plans. Post grad plans. Repeat that back to yourself with different voices in different ways. I find that it diminishes the seriousness of these words. I do not know about you, reader from Germany, or anyone else who has stumbled upon this blog, but less serious is what I need at the moment.

Listening to MPR–Minnesota Public Radio–on my drive back from the cities, there was an interesting segment on finding jobs. Apparently companies are using programs that review electronic applications, and if your application is not worded properly, then it is discarded from the pile. For example, if you use the word “accountant” instead of “CP accountant,” you might run the risk of being overlooked. A woman from Fargo voiced that her husband, who has applied for over 100 jobs, and has received 1 interview, or something obnoxious like that, has not been able to find work. Scary, right?

Their advice was to hit the pavement and hand your resume to someone in-person, but even then, the counter argument is that it is often very difficult to even hand your resume to a physical person anymore. Others suggested vamping up and utilizing LinkedIn and other online sources to their full extent, attending networking conferences, and even talking to your local priest who interacts with everyone in the community, and those people might know people, who might know someone who could give you a job. What about those who read your blog? Can I consider you part of a community who could connect with an employer?

“Wow,” I thought to myself. I have been working minimum-wage jobs since I was fifteen, and the process has always been pretty straightforward. Go to the establishment, ask for an application (which has usually been in the form of hard copy up until a year ago), fill out the application and return it, and then give the establishment a call back after a week if nothing has happened. Interviews are no more than a few questions, and a suit was never required. Good thing too because suits are uncomfortable.

How does one apply for a job-job? That is my question? And interview skills? “Skills” in general? What an abstract word. When I went to the career center at my school, they gave me a packet containing buzz words that would catch employers’ eyes. “Foster, cultivate, encourage, develop…” I have disregarded all of it up until now because it all seemed so silly to me.

I can just imagine myself going to an interview and utilizing the packet I had been given from the career center.

“Yes, I have many skills–organizational skills, um… social skills? Writing skills, people skills, reading skills, analyzing skills, eating skills, ranching skills, Frenching skills…”

This all may seem a bit cynical, but I don’t mean to be. The career center has helped me out a lot with writing resumes and cover letters. I have not gone in for more information regarding interview technique/strategy, but I expect to tap into that resource pretty soon here. The point that I am trying to make is that part of me feels as if finding a job, and representing oneself well is sort of this weird, strategic game of representation using the “right” words–catchy words–that do not do an adequate job of describing who I am as a human being.

Maybe all interviews are not like that. Maybe the job market is not like that. I don’t know. You tell me though. I would really like your feedback, if you are reading this. What do you think of the current job market? Is it as hard to get a job and make a living as people say? For a college graduate with a degree in English living in the Midwest? And if you want to comment on any aspect of the job market, navigating your own post-graduate experience, etc. that would be very much appreciated.

Matt

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