What really happens when you set out to apply to 100 jobs in the post-quarantine, “nobody wants to work” era? In the first few days of the challenge, the answer seemed to be “a lot of rejection letters and a reluctant offer of a few weeks of temporary customer service work from a manager who seemed intent on wasting time sulking over an applicant who could not work on Saturdays instead of filling the role with somebody with the needed Saturday availability.” Here is what happened as the first week drew to a close:
Day 4: October 28, 2021
Once the temp job at <Big box store> decision had been made and the application withdrawn at the end of the day yesterday, I continued applying for jobs in the fields of customer service, basic office work, education, and writing.
Right after college, I worked for eleven years as a receptionist. During those years, I gradually grew from an amateur to a professional writer, earning a Master of Arts degree in Literature and Creative Writing, and starting a career as a reporter. I was a reporter for twelve years overall, but since I was freelance, I would say I have a solid ten years of experience. One of the gaps in those years was filled with a nine month job as a Walmart Greeter and Cashier. During those nine months, I made the decision to shift my career to creative writing, general freelance writing, and writing teaching. Six and a half years ago, I began teaching writng skills to adults at an online university. Three years ago, I narrowed my freelance writing down to writing for and about the arts.
One of the jobs that would revive my long ago customer service career would be a dishwasher and busser at <seafood chain restaurant>. That is certainly something that would be a reasonable side job for me. I have all those years of experience in customer service, and cleanliness has always been a priority with me. When I was a receptionist, I added “cleaning lady” on to my duties myself simply because the tiny lobby, office spaces, and restrooms in the place were filthy and they needed somebody. (And no, the owner did not increase my pay or offer any compensation. His own wife spoke up about it. He glared at both of us and ignored her.)
At first, <seafood chain restaurant> looked like it might be much more straightforward. Their listing on Indeed says “Dishwasher and Busser.” That’s a reasonable combination. It would be your job to clear and sanitize the tables and wash the dishes you collect for future customer use.
Once I filled out the application, I received a notice that they’d looked over my materials and wanted to continue the process, but I needed to go on the company website and fill out their official application form.
That’s when I got a good look at the complete job description. To be fair, they do have it posted on Indeed, but it isn’t visible unless you open up the whole listing rather than using the quick apply function.
Reading the full job description, you learn that not only will you be responsible for keeping the tables cleared and clean, washing the dishes, and performing the other light kitchen tasks one would expect of the dishwasher, like keeping the kitchen area clean and helping to roll silverware, you will be responsible for cleaning the restrooms, taking out the trash, and doing maintenance on the grounds as well.
Somehow, I doubt the person who takes this job is going to be getting triple the hourly wage, but they should. That’s three jobs. Clearing tables right after guests leave, sanitizing them according to today’s increased standards, keeping the dishes washed for the customers and the kitchen staff, keeping the kitchen area clean, and helping to prepare items for table setting is a dishwasher/busser job. Cleaning the rest of the place, including the restrooms, and taking out the trash constitutes a job as a custodian. And the person who maintains the grounds is well, a maintence person. Depending on the size of the restaurant, the busser and dishwasher might be separate jobs too, making that four distinct jobs. But let’s be generous with the large corporation and say that’s one job, and they’re only asking someone to do the work of three while being paid for one.
Day 6: November 1
October 29, 30 and 31 were a weekend break from the challenge.
Today, the first alarming observation is that some of the job titles and ads are a bit misleading. I submitted an application for “Community Support Staff” for an organization that serves disabled people. The job ad sounded like you would be helping groups of people with activities in the community, or doing office work or other front of office tasks to help people get out into the community. But the test they gave me asked a bunch of nursing and patient care questions. I didn’t finish, because I have never even thought about entering that field and didn’t know the answer to any of the questions. If they need somebody to provide that type of care, they should be looking for someone with at least some background in home health and nursing, not somebody they need to use a little online quiz to screen. I could have looked up all the answers, presented myself as skilled and ready to provide care, gotten the job, and shown up as well…me…somebody with no real idea how to provide home health care or the slightest knowledge of nursing.
In terms of progress in the challenge, it’s the sixth day I’ve worked on it, and I am up to fifteen job applications. Fifteen job applications….and the only interest anyone has shown in me is to offer me a temporary position as a cashier at <Big box store>. They didn’t even offer me a real, permanent job there, just a few weeks of work helping out over the holiday season.
Day 7:November 2, 2021
One of yesterday’s applications was to <a pizza chain>, for the position of Hostess. The response came so immediately, I knew nobody read my application. It was an automated response to anyone who turned in an application.
And the response was annoying, to say the least. For the rest of the evening and into this morning, I have been absolutely bombarded with both texts and emails demanding that I schedule an interview immediately.
The whole automated/bot responses and even in some cases, interviews, discourage me from even pursuing the job. In a way, I get it. They’re thinking about hiring you to show people where they’re supposed to sit and pass around menus. This isn’t anything anyone actually wants to do long term. People who want to build a career in the service industry are there to work their way up to server, so they can start earning decent tips, and then up into management. People who just need some money, just need some money. They’re going to quit as soon as something they actually do comes along. It’s not like I’m on the short list to be running one of their departments for the foreseeable future, and they should be taking me out for lunch or drinks to see if I’m a good fit.
That said, the message “We can’t even be bothered to actually glance at your application, now jump out of your chair and come running to us for an interview,” does not exactly leave a potential employee with a good impression of a potential employer.
Keep reading the “Library 315” page of Artist Cafe Utica for more about the challenge.
by Jess Szabo originally published on Artist Cafe Utica www.artistcafeutica.com