You know the job market is bad when:

My advertisement seeking someone to do filing in our office for $10/hr has garnered twenty responses in one hour. Several of these are from people vastly overqualified to do what I’m asking of them, which is, y’know, to file stuff. It’s sad.

As I read these applications, I’m discovering what a horrible, judgmental, biased person I truly am. I know, you’re shocked. Shut up. But, okay, really? A filing job has very few requirements: tolerance for boredom, yes; skill, not so much. The ability to follow directions is vital, however. So sending me a resumé as an attachment when my ad specified “no attachments” is fairly good evidence that you are Not Suited For The Position, and maybe dumb.

Other fatal flaws include such spelling mistakes as “alfa numeric,” “file cleark,” and “pareleagal,” as well as beginning your cover letter with the word “Hey!” Oh, yeah – and listing your court-ordered community service under “Volunteer Work.”

One cover letter was addressed to “Melissa.” I am not Melissa. I do, however, regularly receive phone calls for Melissa, who may or may not have had my phone number before it became mine three years ago. My theory (as I have mentioned elsewhere) is that Melissa maxed out her credit cards on booze and hookers before skipping town and bequeathing her number to me. So is this cover letter further punishment dealt to me by the absent, drug-addled, pox-ridden Melissa? Perhaps.

Sometimes applicants give personal information in their cover letters, or list “Other Characteristics” in their resumé. I hate this, because I am, in the common parlance, a sucker. It’s very hard to steel myself against such heartwrenching statements as “I currently work out of my home, due to caregiving for an elderly parent,” or to resist hiring someone simply because she’s a knitter.

Several people mentioned their imminent attendance at Law School and wrote things like “i would love to start working for an attorney.” Exsqueeze me? What about the word “filing” gives you the impression that this would in any way constitute valuable legal experience? This is what we call Inflated Expectations, my friend.

Also, to all the people who listed their “Objective” as “to find a challenging position [etc.]”: Did you read this ad? It’s filing, for fuck’s sake.

And to the person who graduated in May with a 3.5 GPA from an excellent university and listed her “Main Objective” as “Office Clerk for Law Firm”: I don’t believe you.

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18 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Mom said,

    A friend who is a paralegal here says the file clerks in her office keep singing the alphabet song to themselves because they don’t actually know the alphabet – excuse me, alfabet – by heart.

  2. 2

    Mahala said,

    I’d apply if it weren’t for that hellacious commute from North Carolina.

  3. 3

    Cheryl said,

    Would you really hire someone who didn’t write that they were looking for a challenging position? It sounds much better than “Objective: I just need a job I can go to for 8 hours a day and get paid.”

    Also, someone going to law school may just want exposure to a legal office and to occasionally see or meet a lawyer. I suppose they may want to get some mentoring out of it, or at least an informational interview about what law is like.

    Or maybe they misunderstood the word “filing” to mean the actual process by which legal actions are made… as opposed to the kind that involves putting paper in manila folders and sticking them in a drawer.

  4. 4

    uccellina said,

    Cheryl: For a part time position which I specified required maybe three, four hours a week tops, yes, I would hire someone who didn’t say they were looking for a challenge. I don’t want to deal with anyone who is challenged by sorting paper.

    Also, if I hadn’t specified that this office consisted of Lawyer and Me, and that they’d mainly be working evenings when neither of us were here, I might be less scornful of the law school hopefuls.

    I didn’t put the text of my ad in the post, but I promise that I was pretty clear about the job and its requirements. If they misunderstood, they’re probably not the right person for the job.

  5. 5

    Writer2 said,

    I think about half of what you observe here is due to structural frustration, underemployment of the market, and the gap between people’s capabilities and the terms of their (fleeting) work. That doesn’t excuse “yo, dude” intros, but it does explain some of the over-salesmanship.

  6. 6

    nora said,

    People write what they think they’re supposed to write. I’ve seen worse. I prefer reading bad resumes to hosting bad interviews. Those are just awkward.

  7. 7

    People are idiots.

    We had a guy once fill out an application and he wrote his “other interests” were drinking beer and chasing pretty girls.

    No, I’m not making that up. He was collecting unemployment and had to fill out so many apps a week to keep getting money.

    The boss interviewed him just to see him sweat.

  8. 8

    I have a cover letter in my possession currently that states the applicant likes to go to “sports funkchions” in his spare time. Yikes!

  9. 9

    Hyphen said,

    Not that I can think of any other way to do it, but I suppose asking for resumes for a file clerk position that is only 3-4 hours a week might imply the job’s more “challenging” than it is?

    My thought too would be that something like that could always turn into more, with greater responsibilities or experience bleeding into the paralegal arena–but then again you’re not in litigation so don’t have the major crisis times like I do where we *do* pull everyone in. Hmm. Crazy. Good luck. 😉

  10. 10

    uccellina said,

    I had thirty more responses when I came in this morning, one of which announced proudly that the applicant had never worked in a law office but had “written many legal documents for myself and others.” Potential UPL liability, anyone?

  11. 11

    MonkeyGurrl said,

    I think that last one may have been a jail-house lawyer. (Did I ever mention my previous life wherein I worked for the ACLU’s Prison Project?)

    Also, people are stupid. I think I’m not very bright, but waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more intelligent than at least 75% of the people I see every day. But that may speak more to my environment than the relative intelligence of people in general. . .

  12. 12

    A said,

    Here in the We’re Full of Surprises State, one of the surprises appears to be that kids working at the mall, folding jeans for the Gap, are making $11/hour. I don’t know which circumstance is more wrong.

  13. 13

    Laurie Ann said,

    I’ll do it. You can attest to my relative intelligence, my ability to alphabetize due to previous experience in a record store, and you know I am a filing fool.

    Let’s talk.

  14. 14

    MonkeyGurrl said,

    DON’T DO IT UCC!!! Don’t hire Laurie Ann. I have it on good authority she wears inappropriate footwear.

  15. 15

    dancinpistachio said,

    if the people on their way to law school are right out of college, you can’t blame them for wanting to work in a law firm. they’re probably having a hard time finding anything else, and think that looking at legal documents will make them feel better than looking at a cash register might. i can say from experience that they are wrong but, again, can’t blame them. . .

  16. 16

    uccellina said,

    P.S. I totally hired the knitter.

  17. 17

    xtina said,

    During my phone interview for my current job, I let slip that I like to settle down after work with a bottle of wine. That was the omission that got me the job. Good thing you hired the knitter, I say!

    And, this is Christina, a friend of Pam’s. I had the pleasure to join you, husband, and Pam at RFD about a year ago. And I still wish I had a tiramisu mattress.

  18. 18

    […] 23, 2007 · Filed under Friday Cat Blogging, Knitting Back in August, I hired a file clerk. She was a 28-year-old college student, majoring in Anthropology, who liked to knit. And – even […]


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