Honesty Is Emergency Route To Success

, , , , , | Working | January 14, 2021

I am job hunting. A local temp agency has a job listed, so I apply. They call me that afternoon, and I can smell the desperation through the phone. Apparently, I am the only Excel expert who has replied at all.

I interview the next day. Let the parade of facepalms begin!

The large company needs to update their emergency escape maps so that, in the event of a fire, employees and visitors know where to run and where to gather. Doesn’t sound much like an Excel job yet.

They have hand-drawn maps of some sites, architectural drawings from some sites, and pictures from a helicopter of one. And they had one electronic file! Some gifted employee had drawn a map in Paint, put it in an Excel file (for reasons never explained), and sent it in.

The project manager, a brilliant but non-technical guy, looked at all this and decided that Excel must be the tool to use. And they needed an expert, because, well, experts make them look better.

I have a policy to never visibly facepalm during a job interview. I follow my policy but the temptation is so strong.

Me: “Excel, while an awesome tool, is absolutely the wrong tool for the job. You’re trying to drive nails with a CNC lathe. I recommend that you find somebody who is good with MS Visio.”

We shake hands and I leave.

The temp agency calls while I am driving home.

Temp Agency Rep: “Can you please spell ‘Visio’ for us?”

I do. They call me back again later that afternoon. 

Temp Agency Rep: “Do you know how to use Visio?”

Me: “I do; it is really pretty simple.”

Temp Agency Rep: “The boss you interviewed with was impressed enough with your honestly suggesting he hire someone else that he wants to hire you.”

So, I spent six months tracing Google Earth images of worksites and figuring out which escape routes fit our state’s fairly vague rules for emergency escape maps. Easy work, nice people.

The job could have been done in a fraction of that time by a decent graphic designer, but they wanted me, I wanted the paycheck, and the work got done.


This story is part of our Best Of January 2021 roundup!

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Another Day, Another Bullet Dodged

, , , , , | Working | November 7, 2020

This story happens three years ago when I have just graduated from college and am desperate for a full-time job. Besides me, there are two other people involved in this story: a junior HR assistant from a job agency and the branch manager.

Shortly after graduation, [HR Assistant] contacts me via an employment search website regarding an Executive Administrative Assistant position. We have a quick phone call.

HR Assistant: “Based on the courses you took in college and your placement experience, you are an ideal candidate for the position!”

She then schedules me for a screening interview with [Branch Manager]. [HR Assistant] explains to me how things work and emails me the instructions. I am told that [Branch Manager] will be giving me a call the following Monday at 2:00 pm sharp, and if I don’t hear from her after fifteen minutes past the scheduled time, I will have to call the main line and the operator will put me through. This phone conversation with [HR Assistant] goes smoothly.

Monday comes and I don’t hear anything from [Branch Manager]. I call the main line but am not able to get through, so I call [HR Assistant]’s direct line and she transfers me to [Branch Manager] who is very arrogant, rude, and unprofessional toward me.

Branch Manager: “I have an important meeting and don’t have time to deal with you.”

And she transfers me back to [HR Assistant] to reschedule.

When I get connected again with [HR Assistant], she switches from speaking professionally to a very passive-aggressive tone. I can tell that she just wants to get off the phone with me as soon as possible, but I don’t say anything because I want a job so bad. She tells me that she is going to put me on hold so that she can check [Branch Manager]’s calendar and put me on a time slot.

Miss Thang here presses the wrong button and leaves the receiver on her desk, meaning that I can hear the background and all the awful things she is saying about me to her colleagues.

HR Assistant: “Ugh, she’s so annoying! [Branch Manager] thinks she’s incompetent, you know.”

And other things along these lines. When she finds a time slot:

HR Assistant: “Done. Now I’m going to tell this b**** to f*** off.”

When she comes back to the line, I think she realizes that I heard everything.

HR Assistant: “Oh, s***!”

And she just hangs up on me.

I did file a complaint about this incident but never heard anything back. I totally forgot about all this until my nephew — who has just graduated from college — mentioned that he had recently dealt with this employment agency and they were not helpful at all.

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Of All The Ways You Try To Get Someone To Pay For Your Ride

, , , , | Right | June 30, 2020

An employee of a temp service has just been fired from his job. He’s already called once and been directed to the on-call person for the temp agency.

Me: “Good evening, [after hours service]. How can I help you?”

Caller: “Yeah, I was jumped by three people at this job and they told me to leave. [Temp Service] told me there’s nothing they can do but my ride won’t be here for another hour. I need to get home; can you call me a taxi?”

Me: “No, sir, I’m sorry. I am the answering service; I cannot call you a taxi.”

Caller: “Well… what I am supposed to do, then? I can’t wait here for an hour. I need you to call me a taxi.”

Me: “Sir, I will not call you a taxi. That’s something you need to do yourself.”

Caller: “Okay, well, who would I call then?”

Me: “Call for what, sir?”

Caller: “To get a ride home… Would I call the Department of Treasury?”

Me: *Sighs* “No, sir, you would call the taxi company.”

You can’t fix stupid.

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Lay Off, Guys; I’ve Got This

, , , , , | Working | June 13, 2020

I got laid off from my job a few years ago but got a generous severance package that allowed me to be picky about job offers. Unfortunately, some of my job prospects were with contract agencies, which can be really flaky about keeping in touch. After a job interview:

Recruiter: “Okay, you are a really strong candidate for this job and I think the client will love you. We’ll be in touch within a week.”

Me: “Great, can’t wait to hear from you.”

A week goes by without contact. Even though the job sounded like a sweet gig, I don’t sweat it as I’m fielding several job interviews a day while my old company is essentially paying me to sit on the couch.

Recruiter: “Hey, looks like they decided to go with someone else. But I’ve got another client interested in interviewing you. Are you available this afternoon?”

I’m currently on my way to the other side of the state for another job interview.

Me: “Today’s not a good day. But I can interview tomorrow. Call me when you have a time arranged.” 

Surprise. No call. I eventually find a new job and am getting settled in my new office when the same contract agency calls.

Recruiter: “Hey, the person we sent them fell through and the client wants someone else. When can you start with them?”

Me: “Uh, I just started a new job.”

Recruiter: “Oh, congratulations! Who with?”

Me: “[Company].”

Recruiter: “And how long is the job assignment?”

Me: “As long as I want.” 

Recruiter: “But what agency placed you there?”

Me: “No one did. It’s a permanent hire.”

Recruiter: *Disappointed* “Oh. Wouldn’t you rather work for [Client Company]? It’s a good contract.” 

Me: “To be honest, you kind of flaked on me twice already. I did warn you that I was entertaining several offers during our first interview and wasn’t going to wait on [Client Company] if I got a better offer.” 

Recruiter: “So, you aren’t interested?”

Me: “Nope.”

A few months later.

Recruiter: “Hey, are you in the market for another job again? [Client Company] really wants to interview you and they’re kind of desperate to fill that position.”

I blocked their number after that.

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Having No Social Media Is Antisocial

, , , , | Working | March 2, 2020

Several years ago, I suddenly found myself unemployed — partially a relief as I’d been in a toxic work environment — and went to sign on for Jobseeker’s Allowance while I looked for work. The advisor I spoke to when signing on told me about something called “Job Club” that offered advice for jobseekers and taught skills like how to write a CV, how to sell yourself at interviews, stuff like that. He informed me that if I went to Job Club it would count as me being proactive in my job search, so I signed up and went along.

The “club” did turn out to be useful as it helped me to boost my self-confidence, but there was one little incident that irritated me just a little. We’d been talking about Facebook and the importance of maintaining a presence on social media. One of the coordinators explained that employers routinely check out job candidates on social media to see what they are like. 

I explained that I didn’t use Facebook and had no intention of doing so. The coordinator didn’t like this and told me that I was “reducing my employment prospects” if employers couldn’t check me out on Facebook before an interview. I politely informed her that I wouldn’t want to work for an employer who’d rather judge me on my Facebook profile — which admittedly would be rather boring because I don’t go to wild parties, etc. — than on my ability to do the job. The coordinator sulked and told me that I wasn’t being very proactive.

In the end, I got a rather good job doing something I loved, and I didn’t need a Facebook profile to get it.

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