For someone who has a talent for resume and cover letter writing, the beginning of the turnaround in the unemployment trend presents a fantastic opportunity. While it is truly scary that so many people are out of work, how long some of them have been searching, and how many companies are still shrinking their work forces to accommodate economic necessity, I can do something to help. Yes, I charge for the service, but I know that if I had a valuable skill set that didn’t include great spelling and grammar, I’d be happy to shell out a reasonable amount for someone with those skills to put me on paper so prospective employees would see what I can do well, and not be distracted by the fact that writing isn’t my greatest strength. And the writing is only one piece of it – what about access to a computer and printer? If I’ve never had a job that required me to use a computer and I don’t have one at home, I may not even know where I can go for public access, let alone know what to do once I have it.
I’ve never really thought about it before, but the hiring process for every single job out there is classist, and inaccessible to so many people who are incredible workers – probably far more industrious than a lot of us who have a pretty way of turning a phrase. I’m not going to list a slew of jobs or careers that do not require similar skills to those that aid someone in writing a great resume and cover letter, because the argument could be made that literacy and good communication skills are imperative to any career. I get that, of course. But I will tell you that I personally do not care if my cashier at the grocery store can write a comprehensive paragraph describing his job duties – I could do that for him if he didn’t feel confident doing it himself.
And that’s what this is about. I have a skill not everyone has. People who are hard workers, fast learners, and dedicated employees are being passed over before the interviews begin because the employers use this first line of contact – the resume – to weed people out, often based on things like spelling, sentence structure, and even (yes, I have absolutely done this) the fact that they still use Hotmail. And this is only fair sometimes. But because of the unemployment rate over the last several years, it is happening always; even with a well-written resume, employers feel confident – smug, even – requiring a four year degree to apply for every minimum wage job out there these days. But you know what? The person who has a college degree and writes a beautiful letter and worked for a Fortune 500 until it went bankrupt is not going to give you her best bussing tables. She is likely going to resent the job, her coworkers, and her superiors – whom she won’t consider superiors no matter what position they hold. Not all, but many, people who possess degrees, impressive work histories, and a talent for bullshit are going to have a chip on their shoulder. I wouldn’t hire them at half minimum wage, but the ones who deign to apply to jobs they consider beneath their station are fooling the hiring managers out there, getting the jobs, and acting like they’re doing everyone else a favor just by showing up.
I want to level the playing field a bit, that’s all. Affordable resume and cover letter writing for folks who really want to work, but whose skills don’t include being their own best advocate on paper. I want to be that. And not by embellishing or “creatively presenting” or outright lying about anyone’s skills, but by communicating them in a way that doesn’t get them knocked out of the game before they’ve even put a hand on the ball.
This weekend’s project: designing a pull-tab flyer to put up around town. Contacts to make this week: The Career Center. Time to make this thing happen.