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Yeah, I go to the career center a lot. It’s almost my new hangout. My third visit was to attend an Employer Panel. I thought it’d be a great way to hear what actual hiring managers look for in applicants. And it kinda was. I now know at least two local employers who are “felony friendly.” Swear to G-d, they both used that term. It made me want to go out and rob somebody. “Hey, look at me, I’m a friendly felon!”
There were four employers on the panel, which started fine. I began to get suspicious when the UPS hiring manager talked about how everyone has to start in the ever-lovin’ warehouse and work their way up. He waxed rhapsodic about how widely varied jobs at UPS are (“We have lawyers and doctors on staff! All our advertising is produced in-house!”) while making the everybody-starts-in-the-warehouse claim straight-faced. No way, buddy, no friggin’ way did your staff lawyers and doctors start out working in the warehouse. Just stop that nonsense.
Setting aside the staggering intellectual dishonesty of his warehouse claim, if everybody really does start out in the warehouse, then UPS has completely institutionalized its discrimination. If everybody starts in the warehouse doing the described physically demanding job, there are mostly buff, young, physically perfect men staffing the entirety of UPS’ global corporation. Buff because a warehouse worker has to be physically strong. Male because most (but not all) women have less upper body strength than their male counterparts. Young because after about age 40 both men and women lose muscle as a part of the natural aging process. Physically perfect because a person in a wheelchair would have difficulty picking up an oversized package from the warehouse floor and placing onto a forklift or truck bed. Certainly women can increase their strength and middle-aged humans can take steps to maintain their muscular health. But hey, the hiring manager started in the warehouse, so look what UPS got from this alleged policy. (Hint: they got a douche.)
The UPS hiring manager also fielded a question from the audience about what employers look for on resumes. His response was he never looks at resumes. He only cares about the online application and who shows up at the screening interview. He looked straight at me and said, “I never hire overqualified people. They quit after a week.”
Message received. UPS has no use for a middle-aged, college-educated woman. Got it.
I had high hopes for the hiring manager from the California Department of Agriculture. I thought certainly a state agency has office jobs. They probably do, but she was hiring seasonal workers to drive all over the state looking for certain types of insects and then killing them. She even brought flashcards with pictures of the bad bugs. Not kidding. A big stack of flashcards, too. She also assured us that the agency is now using “cleaner” pesticides (for worker safety? Dunno, she didn’t elaborate. It was creepy. Okay, creepier.).
The third employer was hiring bus drivers. I’ve already got enough road rage issues so that’s another no. The last employer was a home healthcare provider who requires all sorts of credentials I don’t have. She was also very proud of the fact that her staff always leaves the company to further their careers, and they’ve all learned something when they go. I suspect what they’ve learned is that she’s been underpaying them the whole time.
With the exception of the UPS dude, the hiring managers were all very nice. They were clear about what they’re looking for: honesty, punctuality, confidence. They also expect you to want their job, not just a job. I’m not sure how to reconcile that one. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone over the age of 6 who really wants to work with bugs. These seem like jobs you take to pay the rent this month or on the way to another career goal, not jobs that you really want to do for the rest of your life. And every single one of them was offering “McJobs.” Jobs that don’t encourage individuality, creativity, or much actual humanity. Jobs where the people performing them can be swapped out like machine parts and no one would even notice. Jobs that people leave when they can find another employer who will pay them even fifty cents an hour more.
The takeaway: don’t lie on your application; research the company and the job you’re applying for; be on time, for cryin’ out loud; and committing a felony doesn’t mean no one will ever hire you. Keep that last one in your back pocket, y’know, just in case.