Hire this woman
January 15, 2005
Elana Azose
  Hire this woman: Willing to swallow pride for minimum compensation
  The low point in my quest for gainful employment came when I was turned down for a job delivering meals to hospital patients.
  "What gives?" I asked the unyielding rejection notice. "Am I not qualified to carry? Did my $120,000 BA degree somehow not give me the skills necessary to deliver a tray to the appropriate hospital room? Do the human resources people think I'll get lost in the ICU or sneak some Jell-O?"
  How hard can it be to get a freaking job in this city, oh great Deity? I realize being able to analyze metaphysical poetry isn't the most marketable skill. But really, you'd think with an advanced degree I'd be able to find something in the past six months.
  Is this all some kind of cosmic joke? Is this your way of telling me I should've gone to UCLA and majored in accounting like my mother wanted me to? Did she put you up to this?
  Initially, I was snobby and looked only for jobs that paid more than the minimum wage so I could, oh say, pay back my egregious student loans.
  But as the rejections kept coming in and the HR people kept telling me, "It's not just you; there were 150 applicants for that spot," I got off my high horse of wanting to actually use my degree and began looking for jobs that at least sounded partly feasible. Usher at a strip club? Sure. Landscaper at Seattle Center? Not a problem.
  Unfortunately, many of the job descriptions involved rather ominous warnings: "Must be willing to be exposed to noxious fumes and stand completely still for eight hours at a time" or "Must be able to lift 85 pounds repeatedly while alone in a deserted underground parking garage in the middle of the night."
  And those were the jobs I actually qualified for. I won't even mention the oodles of "Executive Director of '2 Pizza' Astrophysics SQL XML Managerial Specialist" jobs I found online. Dude, if I spoke fluent Tagalog and had 15-plus years experience debugging complex networks, I could have a job like that.
  What I find most amusing, though, are the job descriptions where you know they've already hired someone but are just posting them to comply with government regulations: "The ideal candidate must be a blond Pisces named Tiffany who has a dual degree in Marketing and Medieval History from Northwestern and lives in Lower Queen Anne. Knowledge of Microsoft Office desirable."
  And I'm sorry, people, I just graduated a few years ago. There's no possible way I'm going to have five to seven years of experience in anything, unless it's eating Thai food and sending extremely long e-mails. I'm very good at that.
  Until my alma mater decides to cancel my loans due to the sheer irony of it all, I'm left wondering if there's a way I can apply to all 399 jobs on the University of Washington Web site with one simple mouse click. It might piss off the HR people, but at least I'd increase my odds of getting hired to deliver some lemon-lime Jell-O.

Elana Azose is a frustrated graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and a former NEXT team writer. She lives in Seattle. E-mail: NEXT@seattletimes.com