Smoke, Mirrors, and Rage: What to Avoid on the Job Hunt

Rage might be a strong word, but today it was how I felt after I was duped.  I moved to Nashville with high hopes, hopes that are still intact.  But earlier today, well hope wasn’t among my sensibilities.

Two nights ago I applied to a few jobs online.  I wasn’t exceptionally excited about any of them.  The only one that did stand out was at a marketing firm as a marketing coordinator, but I figured I wouldn’t be considered because I have little experience in marketing.  The day after I applied I got a call.  They wanted to interview me!  I was elated.  I spent that night and following morning researching the company still a little unclear about what the job would actually entail.  I reviewed the job add online, perused their website and online resources, and decided I really wanted to work for the company.  Everything online made it appear to be an incredibly challenging and colorful way to use my writing and personal skills.

This morning I arrived at the interview more ready than I’d ever been for an interview.  I knew exactly how I was going to answer those difficult personal questions about my skills and how they’d be useful to the firm and their clients.  I knew a decent amount about the company—or so I thought—and I even knew a little bit about the president who was going to be interviewing me.

So what went wrong?

The interview went perfectly.  The president liked me so much I got an immediate second interview.  It wasn’t until an hour later at the very end of my second interview that I realized what the marketing company was actually about.  It wasn’t going to be a job where I sat down and shared my amazing ideas on how to apply the strategy and tactics campaign I had come up with.  It wasn’t going to be the type of office where the staff got together and sat down in the conference room to brainstorm on a whiteboard.

It wasn’t until the very last three minutes of my second interview that I learned that it was a position centered around sales.  Instead of coming up with marketing ideas and strategies for the clients, I would be responsible for selling their products as part of an outsourced, fast-paced business model with promotions based on performance.  The very last thing I remember hearing was something about owning my own business in less than a year.  The last red flag went whipping into the air, and I found myself forcing a smile.  This wasn’t a firm I wanted to invest in, it was a company which trained individuals to sell products for clients.

Why did it take until the end of the second interview for them to explain the business structure?  Why not just advertise it as a sales position?  During my second interview, I had watched a girl do a presentation, one I would be expected to repeat a dozen times a day in a high populated store.  There was very little marketing involved, just pitching a product.  Why hadn’t I realized it before?  Am I really that dense?  I had just been explaining to them how one of my greatest strengths is observation… guess I better rethink that one before I use it again.

Needless to say, after the second interview I felt completely deflated, like Edward Scissorhands had just ridden by me on a bike and popped my hopeful bubble with his sharp extremities.  Resolved to leave the smoke and mirrors behind me, I got in my car and blared metal the entire way home.  Oh Sleeper is always an amazing companion in times like these.

What to Avoid

I must be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve gone to an interview with this outcome.  I guess it’s time I learn a lesson from it.  If a job listing or the person calling to interview you won’t explain the job description in a direct manner, they’re probably withholding giving the whole scoop for a reason.  Employers know that revealing this information all at once might turn their potential job candidates away.  Also, if the job listing doesn’t include how much they’ll pay, and especially if they don’t list whether its hourly or salary, that can sometimes be a red flag. In this case, when I asked the girl over the phone what the pay was, she wouldn’t directly answer the question—the answer I later found to be minimum wage or commission, whichever was better—but instead threw out the potential of a large salary figure in the near future.

And lastly, if they call you within 24 hours of getting your resume it might be luck, or it might be one of these kind of jobs. And truly, I have nothing against these kinds of jobs, I just prefer to know what kind of job I’m actually being interviewed for.  Many desirable jobs will sell themselves by a simple listing which includes everything you need to know: job duties, job requirements, pay, and potential benefits.

I’m sure I’m not completely alone in this boat.  The one that’s swaying and thrashing along a merciless, twisting river straining not to capsize and be forgotten at the bottom of the water.  So far my boat hasn’t taken me to any desirable destination, but I’m hoping there are others out there navigating the same river who can relate with me on this endeavor.

The not-so-unfamiliar struggle of a not-quite professional artist

Being a writer is hard.  What’s even harder than being a writer is trying to be a writer.  Being a writer is about writing.  It’s that simple, isn’t it?  Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.  It seems like if you’re not getting published and putting your work out there than you’re not a writer, and certainly not an author. But I know published and self published authors alike who seem to feel no closer to being a “writer.” We constantly struggle to level the scales of our happiness and passions with that of money and survival. So, what is it in us human beings that makes us feel accomplished when—and sometimes only when—we have a wad of cash to level that balance?

So here I am, two years removed from college with little experience, and a whole heart full of ambition.  My creative writing professor in college taught me many things, my favorite among them is that to become a writer one has to write.  He used to make us write thousands of words a week just because.  He helped me see that just as farmers farm and musicians play instruments, writers write. We have to exercise our writing muscles.  There’s nothing more to it than allowing that sixth sense, that innate ability and love for stories and words, the space and freedom to exist.  When I get discouraged, I often think back on this principle, the simple discipline of just doing it, just going for it, and allow myself the space and courtesy to believe that I could—that I am—a writer.

Ohio had very little to offer my husband and I.  I searched for a job in publishing, journalism, technical writing, even employment in a bookstore.  Nothing.  My husband Drew has a degree in music production and has been doing freelance work producing and writing over the past few years.  We finally got to the point where we outgrew where we were.  We both have thirsted for more fulfilling and challenging artistic communities.  So, we’ve found ourselves in Nashville, Tennessee, bright-eyed and hopeful.

Our story is nothing new, but I hope that by writing it out I can see our progress, and hopefully in some way encourage others who are also struggling to make their passions a solid cornerstone of their lives.