And then I remember I’m getting way ahead of myself. Prior to meeting coworkers, I am called upon to dazzle potential employers at a time in my life when I could not feel less dazzling. The first step is to create a resume that makes my boring current job sound important and stimulating. But not too stimulating, because then potential employers wonder why I’d be leaving that gig after 25 years. Next is the all-important cover letter. I actually have about 5 on file which can be interchanged according to the position I’m applying for. I once forgot to replace the name of the business in a cover letter. I realized that about one nanosecond after I hit the submit button. Never did hear from them.
If one is lucky enough to get through the HR screening process, then the first step is usually a phone interview. I do pretty well on a phone interview because you can’t see frumpy over the phone. You also can’t see the deer-in-the-headlights look I get when someone asks me a difficult question. I think the phone interview is really designed to make sure that an actual human has applied for a position, not a chimpanzee, and to also determine salary expectations. I’m not pulling in the big bucks at my current position, but I must be applying for some fairly entry level jobs, because as soon as I mention my salary, the call usually ends fairly quickly. I have countered this by no longer giving a dollar amount, but expressing my flexibility for the “right fit.” Unfortunately, the landlord, cable and utility companies are not quite so flexible.
On the rare times that I actually get a face-to-face interview, I have a real wardrobe dilemma. The last time I went job hunting, ladies were wearing three piece, polyester business suits and panty hose to job interviews. Nowadays, most people wear jeans to the office. If I owned a business suit and pantyhose and showed up to some offices wearing them , it would be the equivalent of wearing a floor-length ball gown to a keg party. So I just try and dress as young as I can get away with, without looking absolutely ridiculous. I know I’ve hit on the right outfit if my co-workers say “You look nice today” or “What, do you have a job interview?”
I think I do relatively well at job interviews, but the chemistry has to be just right. I was once escorted to a job interview by someone from HR who told me how many people had been let go from the organization in the past 6 months, and how badly the business was doing. By the time I arrived at the hiring manager’s office, I was completely defeated and anything but dazzling. By the end, it felt like a blind date gone wrong – no phone numbers and barely a handshake were exchanged.
I continue to plug away, knowing that there is not a big market for middle-aged, overweight women in a young, thin world. I keep thinking I’ll find the one organization that appreciates the talents I do have, even though they don’t involve data analysis, social media savvy, or the ability to achieve efficiencies through workflow improvement to optimize inputs and ensure valuable output from the system. (That from an actual job description) Can’t I just include “works well with others; bakes occasionally” and be done with it?