Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Human Resources

I’m going to need some work in the summer, so I’ve been browsing Craigslist to see what exciting opportunities are out there. Ideally, I’d like to find something that will help me fulfill my potential and become a creative self-actualizer, and what better place is there to go for that than the general labor section of Craigslist?

Just kidding, of course. I’m really only looking for a shitty job because that’s all I need, and general labor is just the thing. I don’t want to go through some drawn out hiring process that requires me to submit bodily fluids, undergo a criminal background check, or answer those mildly sinister personality questionnaires that are designed to weed out introverts and other potential dissidents. Nor am I willing to sit in some sterile human resources department and convince the interviewer that I’m an energetic, self-starting team player. Life is just too short. Besides, I am proudly none of those things. I’d rather mow lawns or haul sheet rock.

Do you find the term “human resources” as disturbing as I do? That sounds like the way Stalin would have referred to workers during the Five Year Plan or to the prisoners in a gulag, or any other disposable laborers, human resources. It implies that people are just inanimate commodities like rubber or tin, valuable only insofar as they serve some larger national or economic aim. It’s demeaning to say the least.

No thanks. No confining offices. No big companies that run things like a miniature police state. No chirpy customer service crap that requires perfunctory smiles and artificial happiness. Brute labor in the great outdoors is a-okay with me. I’d rather be dirty and free, sore muscles and all, than to waste away in one of those other soul killing environments.

But, as you can imagine, and as many of you have probably experienced, it’s an employer’s market out there. The requirements for some of the most menial, low-paying jobs are absurdly specific. They are raising the bar to comical heights. Any jackass who runs a car wash can act like he’s Napoleon and insist that you have a Ph.D in order to clean his office. I saw a janitorial position that required at least two years experience and a resume. A resume, to be a janitor? Really?

Maybe this is common practice, but I’d never heard of it before. I sat there trying to think of what a janitor would put on his resume. Experience in handling brooms, mops and floor buffers? Knowledgeable in both liquid and granulated soaps? I’m not denigrating the work, mind you. I’ve done every kind of shit labor under the sun, and because of chronic financial hardship I’ve usually had to go back for seconds, but I just couldn’t imagine what a custodian’s resume would look like. So I googled “janitorial resume” and it yielded the following example. This is from the intro:

A highly talented Janitor with huge experience in performing a full range of custodial duties related to the cleaning of assigned buildings and facilities; and to run errands or deliver packages and supplies as needed.

In other words, he’s cleaned buildings. That is to say, he’s worked as a janitor, which could have been included on a simple application. Why make him endure the tedium of composing a resume? It appears that even janitors have to be experts at slinging pointless verbiage around in order to succeed in today’s world. Someone, somewhere, probably in a human resources department, decided that this is a reliable way to convince employers that you are worth hiring. Worse, they’ve concluded that using the greatest number of words to describe the simplest possible thoughts makes you sound professional. The emptier the words the better. Special consideration will be given to windiest and most insubstantial sentences.

Using that example as a template, a busboy’s resume could begin like this:

A highly talented busboy with huge experience in performing a range of bussing duties related to the clearing and cleaning of assigned tables and counter-like structures, as well as arranging silverware, pouring water, and scooping butter as needed.

I considered writing a bogus resume and faxing it over just for kicks. For special skills I was going to say “Proficient at using a left-handed squeegee sharpener” just to see if anyone would notice, but they probably wouldn’t. My “resume” would have been placed at the bottom of a stack that was twenty deep and ignored.

It ain’t your daddy’s labor market anymore. It’s a brave new economy, the kind of place where people like Mitt Romney flourish and the rest of us have to write resumes in order to to serve fries. It’s as stupid as it is unjust.

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