This is the story of a job hunt.
100 resumes sent over 90 days. 17 phone interviews. 801 miles traveled to nine in-person interviews. $300 and 55 hours spent creating and re-creating a more perfect printed design portfolio book and portfolio website. I have 3 degrees and seven years experience Six times I have rewritten my resume, created ten different cover letters for varying positions and job titles in order to better trigger HR “buzzword” scanning programs. I have read countless articles, books and blogs on what colors to wear to an interview to invoke certain emotions, how to get people to like you in 30 seconds and how to be a designer without losing your soul. I have applied for jobs as a Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Copywriter, Assistant Art Director, Email Advertising Associate, Marketing Associate, Medicine Package Designer, Interactive Designer, E-commerce Designer, U/X and U/I Designer, even an Icon Designer. And I have received over 30 form rejection letters. The other 70 resumes apparently fell into a black hole, since I never heard back, despite my repeated attempts to communicate.
Here are the highlights of this journey.
I moved to NC for a job at Company CH, where I received an excellent job offer, after two cross-country phone interviews. I sent a very nice thank you note, via snail mail, since everyone loves getting nice, pretty mail. Upon arriving in NC, I received a form-style email, informing me that someone internal had requested, and was granted, the position. Thanks for applying!
Company G was next. My interview venue was changed from in-office to McDonald’s. He greedily ate a huge burger and slurped a Diet Coke while I attempted to keep crumbs off my $300 portfolio book. Halfway through, he cuts me off to pull out HIS portfolio. He proceeded to show me VHS covers for duck hunting videos and cookbook covers worthy of dollar stores. He asked “How much you gonna cost me?” I responded with a conservative figure. He low-whistled, saying, “Wow, you’re talking biiig bucks now!” He offered me freelance work, emphasizing he certainly wasn’t interested in wasting money on employee benefits, and then never returned my emails. He was a self-righteous Baptist pastor. Stereotypes?
Company B emailed late Thursday evening, inquiring about my interview availability. I responded on Friday afternoon, but received no response. I emailed again on Tuesday. On Thursday, I received a rude email saying they were no longer interested in me, as they wanted to have the interview already conducted and a WHOLE week had passed. (Mind you, it was their delay, not mine. Seriously, folks. You can’t blame me for your mistake!)
Company A requested a 45 minute phone interview, which went well and led to an in-person interview the next day. I eagerly awaited a confirmation of the interview and finally called, only to find that the interviewer was booked for two weeks out. I accepted the interview slot, waited 15 days and then drove 58 miles through capital-city rush hour to a 5:30 interview. I didn’t mind because for two long, but exciting, hours, with great ideas flowing and positive energy everywhere, I was sure I had the job at Company A. The interviewer was wrapped around my finger and we were speaking the language of design love. He asked one last requirement: could I pretty-please work for free so he could give me a test drive? I eagerly drove 58 miles home in the rain to go home and spend 6 hours working for free, passionately creating mock-ups and email advertisements to go along with their current marketing plan, but with my own unique spin, to prove my worthiness. After all, it seemed like a reasonable request. I emailed the work to A and waited. And waited. No response. My calls went to voice mail and messages were unanswered. I bought a beautiful letter-pressed cotton thank you card, which I hand-delivered to his secretary. I waited. Nothing. Three weeks later, *SHOCK* I receive MY email sales ads in my inbox, advertising A’s art products. Apparently, the designs were good enough to use, but I wasn’t good enough to pay!
After a lengthy phone interview with Company H, I was penciled in for an interview. Along the way, I was stuck in unexpected Army Base traffic. Not wanting to disappoint, I called ahead to advise my interviewer, who laughed and encouraged me to take my time. Ten minutes before my interview, she called me back in some bi-polar rage, yelling and demanding to know why I was wasting her time. I choked back tears and stammered that I would be happy to reschedule. She scoffed and cancelled my interview. I cried the whole way home, since I really really wanted this job. The next day, as I was ironing my interviewing blazer, she called me back and calmly offered another interview, that same day. I hurried to find pantyhose without runs and shoved my portfolio into my bag. Halfway into my hour-long drive, she called me and spat that I lived too far away and was unlikely to want to drive that far and re-cancelled my interview. I didn’t bother begging for a third interview.
I came across Company M through a temp agency. After a lengthy paperwork process, the temp agency requested 35 minutes of my time via phone. They liked me, so I drove 43 miles for a 2 hr in-person interview. They passed my information to the medical supplier, who requested an interview. I was warned Company M was very choosy, but they seemed to like my credentials. I drove 57 miles and spent 3.5 tiring hours interviewing with various people, including a phone conference. I promptly sent out thank-you emails to all involved. Rudely, none of the multiple interviewers responded to my correspondence! A month later, I called the temp agency and found out that the company was at a stale mate: they ran out of candidates and none of them were “quite perfect.” They preferred to go without a marketing plan in the mean time.
Company U mentioned in a phone interview that they hoped to have someone hired by June. (JUNE???!! My credit card company won’t wait that long!!)
Company E found me through another of several temp agencies I had registered with. The temp agency had sent my information to a few companies, and this work-from-home opportunity seemed like an answer to my prayers. I drove to Raleigh (40 miles) for an interview on Tuesday. I had barely gotten home when I got the call that I had the job! I was ecstatic! Company E called to state we had a meeting the next morning at 8 am! Wow. So I went from unemployed to scrambling for childcare for an in-office meeting for my work-from-home job, with just 16 hours notice! I wasn’t available , so I asked to reschedule for Thursday. She counter offered with Wednesday afternoon, trying to get me working hours earlier. I relented, for the sake of employment. I hit it off with Company E and my boss was easy-going and friendly at first. Then she started calling at midnight on Friday night and texting Saturday afternoon, while I was out to dinner with my family, to see when I’d be home to work more. After this grueling, whirlwind weekend, I was angry and annoyed at the lack of consideration and direction. She fired me on Monday, saying I wasn’t meeting her expectations.
Company J scoffed and said I was overqualified. (But still… I have BILLS! And a family!)
Company V was likely the best company I interviewed with. After a long phone interview, we agreed to meet for mid-morning coffee. They sent a 5 page personal questionnaire about my life as a child, religious affiliations, and current family, suggesting I include a photo. I dodged the questions as best as possible, focusing on my skills as a designer. After an hour and a half and two lattes, the interview was going really well. Then, interviewer leaned close and asked if I had any skeletons in the closet that they would later find out about. I lied and insisted I did not, again for the sake of employment (since that’s not a fair question… or legal!) She insisted that my status as a single mom wouldn’t count against me. (What is this? 1970??) A week later, I was informed they were “pursuing other applicants.”
And so, I hope, pray and wish that something good will come to me. As much time, money and effort, not to mention hours of schooling, that I have invested, surely something will happen. It’s just so frustrating because I have done everything right. I have sent scores of resumes and am certainly qualified and well-educated, per feedback from interviewers. And yet… I remain unemployed. Things look good, get me excited and then disappoint. But mostly, it has been the people that have disappointed me. Failed to return my calls, asked unfair questions and made unfair demands.
Whatever happened common courtesy and honesty? When someone leaves a message, you call back. When they email, you respond. You don’t expect late hours or free work and if you ask for something, you should say thank you. You don’t cancel in a bipolar rage. You don’t string people along and disappoint them. Do you understand how much time and money is tied up in interviewing? After all, the interviewer is paid, but that applicant is working for free. Why do HR teams drag you along, hurdles the whole way and make things so complicated? What happened to the days of walking into an interview and walking out with a job offer?
I’m doing everything right! I’m going to networking meetings, I’m researching companies, saying please and thank you and looking my absolute best. I have bills, a family and student loans. I need a job. I am qualified and I deserve this!
Of course… McDonald’s might be hiring.