04 April 2006

The Relevant Conundrum

I've told several people about the incident last fall where, during an interview, the hiring manager told me that being able to do data-entry twice as fast as they were looking for wasn't an applicable job skill for a data-entry position. One of the people works at that company and told me that it probably is because I don't do enough volunteer work, and that if I did some volunteer work, I would then become an ideal employee.

They've been nagging me for quite a while to go do volunteer work and reminding me to make sure I tell the organizations looking for volunteers that I am there representing that company that doesn't want to hire me based on my skills exceeding their needs.

Rest assured that all of our employment and Human Resources decisions are made without regard to an employee's race, color, creed, national origin, pregnancy status, marital status, sexual orientation, Veteran status, or disability.

Notice that they're quite comfortable discriminating on gender, which I think has more to do with my not being hired than entering data too quickly. The nagging to do volunteer work has been pretty constant and annoying, and I've done some. Several things I've noticed about organizations asking for volunteers.

A) Most don't need any volunteers, they've got enough people through past volunteer recruitments and community service requirements to do everything that they do. They ask for volunteers to guilt-trip people into giving them money.

B) Most of the places that actually need more volunteers make it hard to become a volunteer there. A lot of places (like the local zoo, humane society, etc.) won't accept volunteers that haven't gone through a hiring process. They beg for help but if someone shows up, they can't help until they've filled out an application (the local humane society has an application packet that rivals those of federal agencies for size) and gone through several interviews.

C) Modesty in charity is dead. Volunteering is now a spectator sport. Companies send employees to charities en masse to promote the company. If I am modest and don't go boasting about how many old ladies I helped across the street, how many lonely puppies I took for walks, or how much donated food I dispersed to local food banks, nobody will know that I've done it and it won't make any difference to that company, or any other. On the other hand, boasting about doing charity work just seems like something that people should be beaten for doing. If you're doing it to toot your own horn then you're not really being charitable.

So how does it become relevant to a job search, and why would real job skills be trumped so soundly by faux social conscience?

Goe, enigmatically bewildered, confused, and puzzled by the mystery.

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