Saturday, June 4, 2011

sure is tempting to be a temp

ah, the job search. so on thursday i went to the temp agency, in an effort to find employment of some variety while i figure how to become a writer. you know, one that gets paid.

i had a vague sense of what to expect, from having gone to one temp agency once in college with my sister. but it was awhile ago, obviously, and i was a college student then, so i felt i had to prepare myself totally differently this time.

on thursday morning i got up, showered and blow-dried my hair nicely, and put on my khaki pencil skirt, green flower-print blouse, and grey Steve Madden ballet flats with the ruffle accents. luckily the temperature had providentially cooled that morning from its previous 90+ records earlier in the week, so i was able to stay moderately groomed.

i walked outside and got on the 61C bus to go downtown to where the agency was. i had read good reviews of it, so i was expectant of finding at least moderately good employment. all the way down, i practiced in my head the things i would say about myself: "i am hard-working, very professional, a quick learner, and i'm great with customers." which are all true, i can say without boasting, but doesn't it always feel funny to promote yourself to strangers? anyway.

when i got to the building with the agency, i had to take a scary old elevator to the sixth floor. once i got there and checked in, the nice girl at the front desk set me down with a set of forms and told me to fill them out. feeling ridiculously nervous, i set about putting my life's information down on paper, remembering how bad my print handwriting is, because i usually write cursive.

then i handed back in my forms along with my resume, after which the receptionist set me up in the next room at a computer where i was to take a test on Microsoft Word & Excel, and a typing test. i was tempted to ask her if she got her job as a receptionist for a temp agency, from the temp agency itself, or from another temp agency, but i resisted.

instead i sat down to take the world's most impractical test. indeed, i felt like i was taking the GRE again. mind you, this is no slight meant on the agency itself; as i said, it had glowing reviews from previous clients. but the tests are designed to gauge your proficiency in typical daily computer-related functions, and in my mind, they were hardly reflective of what you would actually have to do at an actual job (much like the GRE).

the tests asked you questions in paragraph form, about how you would complete certain tasks. the questions were fairly drawn out, and identified features of Word and Excel with confusing names, that the average worker knows perfectly well how to use, but cannot name. i can't even recall the bizarre names given to certain features, but they were things like "navigation review home" and the "customize tablet." and they would ask you how to do simple things, but give you ridiculously complicated multiple-choice answers to choose from, when really you know you could do the same thing by right-clicking on the word, rather than by going through six panels of menu options.

for tests that are designed to show in the most practical way how effective a potential worker could be, this seems to be highly impractical. Microsoft Office applications are purposefully designed to be as visual and user-friendly as possible, but only a couple of the questions actually used a graphic as an aid for what the question was about. if they opened the actual Word program, however, and asked the test taker to click on the appropriate area to do a certain function, i feel a much larger percentage would have been able to answer correctly. and isn't that more productive in identifying good workers?

oh, and the typing test. that was great. my mom thought it was hysterical that they still give typing tests, but that's an aside. i don't care. i'm sure typing is still something necessary to test. at any rate, the subject of the paragraphs you were supposed to type was all about how the economy has been failing, and job security is no longer a given. isn't that a terrible subject to make people seeking employment, have to type about? everyone knows happy workers are more productive–wouldn't it be a better test of a worker's optimum abilities, by having them type about a vacation they're about to go on? just a thought.

really, i had thought i knew Word and Excel well enough, but after those tests, i was somewhat humbled. i went back up to the front desk to tell the receptionist that i'd finished. sheepishly i began to comment that i guess i didn't know Word and Excel as well as i thought, and she interrupted me to say "oh no, you did just fine. look–you scored 3.4 out of 3.5. you're in the 90th percentile." she paused and smiled at me, the corners of her mouth twitching. "you're pretty well qualified."

what? i'm not sure how to feel about this. oh well. at least that hopefully means i'll get a call soon for a job offer. i feel bad for other people having to take that test, however. i'm sure they're being poorly represented.

oh, and they didn't interview me at all. they said the companies themselves interview directly, which makes sense. but i guess i need not have prepared the mental speeches. oh well, those will come in handy soon.

anyway, so here i am, sitting and writing because i have nothing else to do and no idea how to get my name out there as this amazing writer (note to self: become an amazing writer). i'm eating from an industrial-strength bag of swedish fish™ as a consolation prize for not having work yet. wish me luck!

what are your epic employment/unemployment stories?


Anonymous said...

I've eaten an entire such bag before


Luke Niebler said...

If you're looking to get published, have you seen this website? It's academic bullshit that doesn't pay, but maybe you could find some places to get some of your already-written papers out there!

Agatha Wells said...

haha thanks! there are some journals i'm looking to get published in but i haven't decided yet which to apply to first, as they all seem to say they will not accept submissions that have been submitted elsewhere!

pro said...

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