The Last Time There Was This Much Excitement About A Tablet, It Had Some Commandments Written On It. (The Wall Street Journal)
For a brief moment there, I actually flirted with the world of hi-tech. Okay, flirting may be a bit of an exaggeration. Let’s just say that I spent a good chunk of the past few months paying heed to the advice of so many well-meaning career counsellors that I try and recreate myself in the pursuit of some sort of gainful employment. For someone who loves words as much as I do, I tried valiantly to familiarize myself with today’s business jargon. It very closely resembles the English that I spent years studying, but there seems to be an inordinate emphasis on abbreviations. There are way too many for me to enumerate, but a few of the heavyweights worth mentioning are SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization – the mysterious life force behind every website. Then there is B2B: Business-to-Business, which should never be confused with B2C: Business-to-Consumer, and then there is my personal favourite, UX: User Experience – such an original use of the much underrated letter “x.”
These terms should not to be taken lightly by today’s aspiring writer – they will, by necessity, define who you are in the world of business. Calling yourself a writer just won’t do it these days. Sooner or later you will have to commit to some sort of niche. Are you a content writer, and if so, are you specializing in digital content or throwing your lot in with user generated content? Not your cup of tea? Fret not, you can choose between social media writing, technical writing, or if you have a really creative flair, you can try your luck with marketing writing. There are even writers who specialize in researching words; keywords to be more specific. These are the most popular words that people enter into their search engines which in turn generate a projected level of SEO. Confused? You are not alone.
Along my path to reinvention, I have made some startling discoveries that heretofore went undetected. It has been brought to my attention on numerous occasions that I am actually “overqualified” to begin a new career. To the best of my recollection, I have never been accused of being overqualified for anything. Overweight, definitely, but overqualified- nope. Then it finally dawned on me. Overqualified is a polite euphemism for over the hill. If you are a fan of Joseph Heller’s classic novel, Catch 22, then you should appreciate the irony of this subtle paradox. After investing considerable time, energy, and possibly some scratch to learn a new skill, you will likely discover that you are beyond the acceptable age range to qualify for any sort of entry level position. And that is because, all the retraining in the world will not make you any younger, and today’s marketplace definitely belongs to the young, not the young at heart.
I am not ashamed to admit that I love writing with a pencil. I belong to a generation where it is still deemed a common courtesy to answer all messages received, even if they are delivered electronically. Apparently, it is naive and unreasonable to expect human resource managers to answer every job application that lands on their table. Even a simple “thanks but no thanks” is far too time-consuming when each new job posting elicits hundreds of responses. So, here’s a suggestion: Why not hire all of us has-beens to perform this thankless task on behalf of all those suffering, overburdened recruiters? If there is anything worse than being rejected, it is being ignored. It makes one pine for the old days when a job interviewer would actually tell you to your face that you have no chance of being hired. It’s that personal, human touch that makes rejection all the more endearing. I once had a summertime boss when I was a university student who had a very unique way of letting go his employees. He would ask the unsuspecting sap to chauffeur him somewhere, and along the way he would casually drop the bombshell that his services were no longer required. That may seem a bit callous to some, but at least you knew where you stood.
So, for the time being I am foregoing the world of search engines in pursuit of lo-tech fulfillment. I ask one small favour. Should you catch me flipping burgers in some joint, please don’t ignore me……