Jun 28

Screening Test: Is The Applicant a "Writer"?

Employability/Disability Assessment (Instructions to screener: Check all applicable items)

This applicant:

writes for hours without being compelled to
calls word-processing "creative writing"
ignores housework
buys books
reads Middle English
asserts that the 18th century is important
believes beauty is truth
believes publication confers validation
claims his/her condition is congenital and "fun"
thinks 12 percent is fair and 15 percent is generous
feels uncertain about the line between poetry and prose
likes closed captioning
will struggle for an hour to get the "1" off manuscript page 1
thinks it would be "great" to live alone in a lighthouse for a year

Mar 21

The Fake Job Interview

The CEO, a youngish "Social Media" type, explained how if we were hired we would get to wander around the company, shadowing people and designing our own jobs, and every Friday, as part of this growing company's Business Leadership Program, business leaders would lecture and help turn us into company execs. This was a group job interview, my first. We were six: 4 young male college grads, a mature woman (me) and an old man. BUT....TO OFFSET the COST OF THIS Business Leadership Program, and the $3750 we would be paid during our 12-week internship, we had to work 8:30 to 5 and make 3,000 phone calls a month. "We don't like to call it telemarketing," said the CEO. "It's the 'call center'..."

Then we toured the building (in scenic Overland), saw the warehouse and the "call center," a huge buzzing hive of cubicles, in each a college-educated 20-something microserf making cold calls on a virtual phone. During a month with 21 working days, 148 calls must be made each day, or 18.5 calls an hour. $3750 for 12 weeks is $312 a week, divided by 40 is $7.81 cents an hour. Telemarketing at minimum wage.

This was how they set their hook for nice clean articulate college grads to interview for minimum-wage jobs as telemarketers: tell them they will be interns. That's a word they understand; very Job Market 2.0. The company's morale-boosting slogan: "Thank God It's Monday." Their Business Leadership Program had been advertised through the State of Missouri careers site, and I did think it fishy when they called me although my resume clearly says I graduated in 1978. At the group job interview I almost got up and said "This is an outrage" (it is a clever, entirely legal and blameless form of the old "bait and switch" job offer) but I decided to say nothing and make them sorry they had invited a former investigative journalist to their group interview and company tour.