Following Your Passion Can Feel Like You Are Just Another Slaughtered Cow

May 12th, 2011   •   no comments   

In the acknowledgments of The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry, author Kathleen Flinn thanks Gillian Kent who “eliminated my job in London, and I’d like to thank her for that.  It’s one of the best thing that ever happened to me.” This book is written by Flinn, a journalist who was fired from her job and just decided to go to Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris – she loved cooking and thought Paris was romantic. The book is a not only chock full of cooking tips and recipes, it is a treatise on following your passion…even when sometimes it seems like it might consume you.

I thought this was a great book for those of us Accidental Entrepreneurs who get frustrated from time to time, and wonder if we are doing the right thing to be entrepreneurs when we didn’t really have a plan.  Sometimes the unplanned events are just what we need to kick us in the pants, turn us around, and head us in a new and better direction. The Sharper Your Knife is one woman’s tasty trip into the unknown…Spoiler Alert: She lives through it!

My favorite quote in the book: “I’m going through the same thing that a friend is now experiencing in medical school: desensitization….The ability to objectify something such as a lamb must be as vital to a chef as it is to a surgeon. That’s especially true here in France, where the eating public consumes every part of a cow or pig with delight – and often with a cream sauce.”

It spoke to me.

All of this job searching makes me feel like those in a position to hire are becoming desensitized to the process…they are just processing us like so much meat.  Everyone I send letters to or call to ask for an interview refers me to their job sites, sites that do not list – nor will they ever list – the contract positions or senior management positions that I seek.

Websites also do not allow for the face-to-face interaction that is my industry.  If you want to hire someone to be your spokesperson or to write your speeches and other communications, wouldn’t you like to talk to them to experience their personality? Don’t you want to know if I have the passion?

Instead, I’m asked to submit writing samples.  Even headhunters and recruiters don’t talk to me more than five minutes on the phone. If I could only get a little face time, I could show what I have to offer and explain how I could save these corporations/organizations money.

When I do go to the sites, no matter how I format my resume, it never loads into their different squares properly. Therefore, I spend hours filling out forms and writing cover letters if it’s for a specific job, which is rare, on numerous websites.  Normally, I find no specific job, but go ahead and upload my resume.  And I can’t help but feel it is all busy work.  So how do I break through that seemingly impenetrable cyber-moat?

I honestly have my resume posted on more than 30 different Websites of corporations, organizations, government, headhunters and job search firms.  Do all of these groups really think job hunters like myself all have hours upon hours to search dozens of sites every week to see if anything new has come up? I check as often as I can while I also spend time pitching to new firms and organizations with the hope that I can get one of those coveted face-to-face interviews.  Companies have got to work with us to find a better way to get to know each other.

Some of these Websites have search engines that alert you to new jobs, and I do sign up for them, when available.  In return, I receive dozens of jobs for IT professionals and receptionists, in addition to some for which I am actually qualified.  The alerts never seem to include anything related to media relations, public relations, corporate communications, speechwriting, or any of the other dozen or so key words I enter.  Now, I almost delete the alerts like so much junk mail…I guess that means I, too, am becoming desensitized.

It feels like all of these companies, non-profits and other organizations have no idea that they are consuming every once of my time and energy just filling out forms – and they aren’t even getting a feel for who I really am. Am I an interesting person who can bring new insights? Am I fun to sit next to for 8+ hours a day, so I make the office an enjoyable place to be? Am I productive or unfocused? If only we could use that time to actually communicate.

I identify with Ms. Flinn’s cow or a pig being devoured by this system.

At a recent job fair, I was told by HR people that “this is the way it has to be” but was provided no explanation as to why that is.  However, at the resume advice booth (yes, it exists/existed) at the exact same event, I was told that someone with my experience would never get a job online, only face-to-face.  Yet, all attempts at such interviews have fallen flat.

Which brings me back to my original comment that my attempts at face-to-face contact were rejected, and I was only given the online option. Last year, when I started my company, I became an Accidental Entrepreneur because I was getting interviews, but the companies decided not to hire.  So, I asked them to give me projects, and they did.  This tells me that if I can get in the door, I can show what value I provide. It also tells me that I am capable of making the best out of a bad situation.  I just know companies/organizations out there could use someone of my talents…if they would just take my call.

I must take a break from this frustration and point out that Gerard Arpey, CEO of American Airlines, personally sent me an email saying he didn’t have any openings at this time, but appreciated my interest.  He began by apologizing for the delay in responding but that he’d been busy (no doubt!).  He even referenced my letter where I discussed the various issues I saw AA facing in the coming year and how I would be able to help him with those issues.  He agreed with my assessment and thanked me for my interest.

Now, that is a rejection I can accept.

All I wanted was to have someone consider my qualifications and respond personally.  Why is it that companies want us to research them and know what we’re talking about when we apply, and generic letters are a biiiig no-no, but they do not feel that they owe us the same courtesy?

If Gerard Arpey can return my email with a personal note, then I think the leaders – or at least the VPs of Communications or the person responsible for sorting through online resumes – of other firms and organizations also can.

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