My growing list of dead Aunt Sallies

This blog post is a continuation from this previous post. It would make sense to read that if you haven’t, but for the lazy here are the important points:

I consider a lie to be the intent to deceive someone. This is to contrast to some people (yes, more than one) I have known, who argue that a lie is merely not telling what conforms to reality. EG, if you want to cut work, it isn’t a lie if you tell them that you can’t make it because your aunt Sally died. This is still not a lie even if Aunt Sally kicked is 25 years ago and this has nothing to do with why you aren’t going to work that day. I feel bizarre even having to explain this.

Kant’s Categorical Imperative states that we should only do actions that we wish were done by everyone else in society. I think this is stupid, and outlined a few reasons why.

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For anyone who may not follow this blog, I have been looking for a solid job that would transition me into a proper career since about May of 2016. It has not been going well at all, and I have mostly been taking work that merely allows me to subsist. A job hunt may be the singularly most miserable activity you can do.  It is also an activity that would be Immanuel Kant’s categorical nightmare – it seems to be a side of our society where lying is not only actively encouraged, its damn near necessary in that Dr Stangelove, ‘soon we will be facing a mine shaft gap’ kind of way. If you don’t, you can be sure everyone else is, and so you might as well.

My breaking point was relatively recently, as of this writing, when I went to another temp agency to see if they can do anything for me. My dealing with them was comically absurd, in a way that is meritorious of its own blog post. But at some point before they had accepted me, I was having a one on one with one of the employees there, who had been eyeing me like a disobedient dog eyes a nearly unattended piece of meat, and she asked me if it were ok if she ‘finessed’ my CV.

Um, what?

Finesse: Transitive Verb

2. to bring about, direct, or manage by adroit maneuvering

Adroit: Adjective

1. having or showing skill, cleverness, or resourcefulness in handling situations

In short, can I bullshit please?

Be my guest!

My resume has at this point been through several rounds of finessing. This and that friend have all wanted to give me a little boost in the job market, and all of them thought they I should ’emphasize’ this, or ‘tweak’ that, so that things are all a little shinier than the experience really was.  All this help didn’t amount to anything, which I will get to later in this post. But what started to happen is that my resume evolved to an extent that, much like Dawrin’s finches, its resemblance to my real life experience was clear, but the two could no longer really intermingle.

One of the lines on my resume says something to the effect of my having in the past had monetary responsibility of under 10 thousand dollars1. This isn’t bullshit, but it is that technically true bullshit that I absolutely cannot stand. I had monetary responsibility, maybe more than once, of about maybe 50$. Well hey! $50 is indeed a number under 10,000 dollars. Technically true. In fact, why the fuck did we stop short? I mean I also had monetary responsibilities of under one billion dollars. I should stick that on my resumes. But we all know what another person will understand when they read that line. They will think that I have had financial responsibility up to that amount. They will think I dealt with large amounts of money, and that I can do it again (more on this point later).

Remember kiddies, you don’t have to go to work if your Aunt Sally died. Even if she died 16 years before you were born. It still counts.

All this reminds me of that time me and my mother laughed at the expense of one of my cousins who, having skipped university and largely done little to nothing after high school, put every little thing he did on his resume, including noting that he was the president of the Rat-Man fan club. Now I am not sure it’s funny anymore. I am ready to put on my resume ‘Competence in multi-national francophone issues’ for that one time I drunkenly put my arm around a French Canadian. Fuck it, why not just turn my whole damn CV into a giant list of all my dead Aunt Sallies.

The Other Side also has Dead Aunt Sallies

There is a reason why the word ‘finesse’ struck me as it did. Part of it was it obliged me to accept that ‘finessing’ of CV’s is likely a universal behavior. But it was also because I didn’t know these people from any other person on the street, and I had no idea who they were or what exactly that meant to them. Trust is a delicate thing, and doesn’t handle very well. I’ve had trust issues my whole life, and have unfortunately spent far too much time thinking about this. To function, I force myself to trust people and institutions, and this is vitally important for me. But trust is something that I am short on.

I’ve now been at this job hunt business for some time. The process has led to some interviews. One questions I have made it a point of asking during all my interviews is for the person to ‘walk me through’ a typical day/week/month of a person doing that position. I have found that people really like this question, and I suspect it makes you look like a serious candidate. It can also demystifies the job for you.

As of this writing,  me and this job I am interested in are currently in the bated breath “will they won’t they” part of our courtship. We are two interviews in and I am imagine that after the next interview they are either putting out or I am going home hat in hand. During both of the interviews so far I have asked the ‘walk me through’ question I mentioned above. One of the people just went through the description that was on their job post and clarified it point by point. I should mention that the job description on that post had forty or so bulleted points. Most worrying was the fact that she dismissed whole subsections of the post  with a simple “oh, but you’ll never actually do that”.

Wait, what? Then why the fuck have it on their at all?

I was at once relieved, and also annoyed. I was interested in my job partially for the possibility of learning some new skills so that I may further butter up my CV, and that point that I “would never actually” was something I would have wanted to learn.  Why the fuck put it on there in the first place?

Well, they are looking for an unrealistic übermensch of a candidate. I once found a thread on reddit with some computer programmers kvetching about how extremely unrealistic job ads were for their industry, and how job ads expected them to be able to code in unrealistic amounts of different programming languages. They were also expected to have credentials and certifications at entry level that people didn’t often get until they were in senior positions. This too is a dead Aunt Sally, because it implies that the job is a lot more arduous/sophisticated/challenging/etc than it is or needs be. It is also suggesting that you are looking for a higher caliber of person than the one you really need. The story of Robin Sage2 is noteworthy here because this highly unrealistic person actually got job offers from companies, which goes to show what it is that people companies are looking for in job candidates: FICTIONS AND FANTASIES.

With the job I am currently a hopeful for, asking that “walk me through a day” question to the second interviewer changed my perspective on the job completely. It went from something that seemed impossible to something that seemed like I could do. I become a lot more confident after having asked that question. This isn’t always the case. At my last shitty hotel job, that same question netter a result like I was going into a fucking salt mine. It wasn’t until I got into the job that I learned that the job was two hours of work followed by five and a half hours of figuring out how I was going to manage to stay awake.

Remember how I mentioned my monetary and budgeting responsibilities of under 10,000 dollars? Here’s a laughable bit of irony: once again for that job I am hoping for, they too mentioned budgetary responsibilities. They left it rather vague, but framed it in such a way that suggested I would have massive budgetary responsibilities. Turns out, my operating budget would have been about 50$. This isn’t to say being on a shoestring budget isn’t a difficult task – I am sure it is – but we both may have been better off if we had been forthcoming.

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1 I phrased this sentence oddly so that no once could copy paste it and maybe find some copy of my resume that is swimming around the internet. One can never be too cautious.

2 For the life of me I could not remember Robin Sage’s name. I google every variety of “fake linkedin researcher phishing” and got very disturbing results. I am now likely on a list. I hope readers of this blog appreciate the efforts I go through. Ultimately, I ended up redownloading a copy of Marc Goodman’s excellent Future Crimes and searching for LinkedIn there to find Robin’s name.

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