Job hunting during a pandemic is probably the worst possible scenario to find myself in at the moment but I am in very good company, with several hundred thousand people having been retrenched in the past few months. The competition is stiff for the few remaining jobs available, and the employers are being over cautious at the moment, understandably so, since nobody has a clue how all of this is going to play out, and whether they can actually offer more permanent and long-term work at all. As it is, so many companies are downsizing their office spaces, having realised that home office does indeed work, and that they can save on overhead costs for office space.
Whether it is government services or health insurance, everything is being run from Home Office at the moment, and that can have hilarious or adverse effects. For example, I ran into a glitch with my health insurance this week and had to call the very able customer service, and they are overwhelmed with the number of crisis cases they have to handle at the moment. Their prognosis is that they will be on crisis mode until 2023, and the lady on the phone informed me that I would be doing myself a favour by skipping 2021 and 2022 altogether. Gulp.
I have lost count of the number of platforms and job markets I’ve submitted my CV to since last October. but it has really been in the past four weeks that I began aggressively applying for jobs and submitting to headhunters. Sadly, the only niche where you can land a guaranteed job at the moment is in sales, marketing or IT, and according to the headhunter I spoke to this morning, the priority for recruitment agencies and headhunters alike are the junior employees who have not reached their 40s.
Job hunting and submitting online applications can be tedious tasks, especially when you are applying to the larger international government or non-government organisations. The application forms for the UN, for example made my head spin and in the end I had the sinking feeling about the whole thing. Nevertheless, I push ahead and try my luck here, there and everywhere. The advantage of being a Jill-of-All-Trades is that you have more options and possibilities, but then again, in today’s job market, this is also my greatest disadvantage because I am not a niche specialist.
I’m still in two minds about this whole niche specialisation and I blame the education systems as much as I do the basic rule of economics supply-and-demand. Anyone in their 50s and above received a solid well-rounded education that inculcated common sense, the ability to think on your feet and troubleshoot any purple goose that might show up in the workplace by applying hands and brain alike! From the Millennials onwards, this has all disappeared, and if they can’t find an app to solve the problem or find it on Google, they are completely and utterly lost. Hence the emergence of ridiculous college degrees for social media and a host of other diplomas for things that used to be part and parcel of our regular jobs. There is an entire generation now that doesn’t even have a clue how to address an envelope simply because they have never had to do so, having been born into the digital world and virtual realities.
Now that I got that little rant out of my system, let me share my most recent experience in job hunting that took place last night and left me speechless. Mind you, I always try to find the humour in such situations and I think this has been my saving grace all along:
Enter Unemployment Stage
Find a FrogDiva hard a work filling in application forms after several hours of eLearning.
I decided to cast a wider net this time and try my luck in a different field, which is not really new to me, but I have been involved in the work from the other side of the fence. In any case, I created a few more job alerts for this particular platform the day before and worked my way down the list of matches I was sent. I have no clue why I was sent this particular job opening but I almost fell off my chair with amusement and and disbelief at the wording. I don’t know whether this is a very specific Canadian English quirk (the job is in Toronto) but in all my years I have never come across a job opening for a … wait for it … Penetration Expert.
You bet your gluteus maximus that I clicked on it! I was so flabbergasted by the title that my curiosity got the better of me. From a writer / creative writer / literary translator’s perspective my mind immediately flew to pornography that needed subtitling or translating. My cautious brain told me this couldn’t be the case because it was part of a job search entitled “communications”… so then I thought it might be a birth control or sex toys manufacturer. To my great disappointment it turned out to be an IT company who needs an expert hacker to test the cyber security various clients. My first thought was Then why the bloody hell didn’t you say so in the first place? I have indeed come across the exact same job offering in other countries, but nowhere, absolutely nowhere has it ever been worded in this manner! Having worked in the IT sector for the past three years, I know what I’m talking about…
Good writing important for any form of business communication, and I find myself editing half the texts of the job openings posted because they are so poorly written and this was a classic example. In the wrong hands, certain words will be completely misleading and catalyse rather disastrous results! So this is a shoutout to all HR and corporate communications practitioners out there – use your common sense and don’t put the Benjamins on the job. Language matters!