We - as in, my Agency and me - have pretty much given up on the first three interviews I went on. Which sucks, because they were all so supposedly thrilled with me. Then.... nothing. The fourth company, from last Thursday, has not yet given us their final answer. However, given that it's Friday, and they claimed they would be making their final decisions the end of this week, it's highly unlikely that I'm getting this job.
I met with four people last week - the HR Manager, two women I would be sharing duties with and supporting, and the VP who would be over us all. The VP was the last person I met with, and what stands out most from our conversation was him asking me if I have a reputation for reliability. I was a bit shocked at that. Let's just say, that's like asking if I have encroaching male pattern baldness and horrific split ends. I have been under the impression for years that I'm known for exceptional reliability - I've had entire sections of departments handed to me, to run independently, and gotten glowing reviews for it.
I did not take this personally. I immediately assured the VP that I have a list of references, and that my agency would be happy to put him in contact with them. If was, however, thrown by the question, and of course now I'm wishing I had given him a list of names and numbers right then and there, or talked myself up more, or something like that. It was one of those moments where, after a day or so had passed, and I reflected upon it, that I realized I wasn't getting this job.
Things like that come up when a person has been badly burnt. Temps in general have terrible reputations. We are regarded as people with virtually no education or skills, who can't get real jobs because we habitually show up late, when we show up, and we have bad attitudes. I've fought this image all my professional life, as I've been temping since I first set foot into the American workforce. I feel that I have won the fight, and that I have developed a reputation that preceeds me in many areas, and that I can still leave a jobsite with a manager saying "if only we had more like her." However, I am constantly reminded that I am the rare exception to a nasty rule. I'm sure this VP has not met many temps like me before, and is conducting this series of interviews with great caution.
It's still not fair though. I think he just didn't like the look of me. I wore a business suit with an interesting shirt (was that too flashy?) and closed toe pumps. I shake hands firmly. I wore minimal makeup, and braided my hair sensibly down my back. I wore my glasses and only one pair of small earrings. I couldn't have done much more without flat-out costuming myself, and I draw the line there.
The one vanity I allow myself, if it can be called such, is that I refuse to present myself as someone other than who I am. In other words, I will not pretend to be someone I'm not. It has taken me many long, painful years to learn who I am, and be comfortable with it. I still learn new things every day. This is precious to me. Granted, I'm usually given some clues as to what the company environment is like, and what sort of personality they are hoping to find, and because of this I've become adept at tempering certain elements of my personality and allowing others to take the spotlight when needed. I refuse, however, to literally become someone else for an interview. (This is usually a pointless guessing game anyway.) When company C rejected me because I was "too personable", I was ok with that. If they wanted someone "studious and nerdy" who would focus into her monitor all day and not chat with the other office workers, then indeed, I am the wrong person for the job.
(We could have a paragraphs-long discussion about appropriate vs. inapprorpiate chattiness in office settings, but give me credit here people.)
So yes, I am who I am, and I know what I have to offer. Most people tell me that I present well, that my skills and background are never the problem. We often chalk up my continued rejection to "interview fatigue." The person who's first or last in line is more likely to be remembered and hired. If I'm the 9th person out of 20 interviews, they will forget who I am after the 11th person shows up. It's lame, but it's all I can figure anymore.
For a while I thought I was getting lowballed by my competition - that I was asking for too much money - but this is long-term temping, and that's not an issue.
I have spent far too much time mulling over this stuff. I'm at a point - actually, I've been at that point for two years - where all I can do is keep trying, and hope something comes through for me. sort of like actors trying to get cast.
However, I stopped auditioning because I hated the illogic of it all, the lottery I knew I'd starve to death before ever winning.
There's a mental path I'd better not go down.
I had another job interview yesterday morning - a fifth interview. This was NOT through my agency - it was a referral from the placement director at my Massage School (who also happens to be my former Swedish Instructor). So I chugged over the TappanZee to north Bumblefuck, also known as Briarcliff Manor, and met with a lovely young gal who runs a spa. She looked me over, showed me around the facilities, asked where I'd gone to school, and inquired as to my licensing status. She then nosed around some papers on her desk and informed me that she'd be calling me to schedule a massage audition. I had come prepared to give her a massage that very morning, but apparently she didn't have time just then. I was there all of fifteen minutes before I was navigating the backroads to home again.
Do I want to work at a spa? No. Do I want to work in the middle of nowhere Westchester county, for commission only? No.
Do I want massage work? Yes. Do I need work of any kind? Yes.
Can I afford to be fussy? No.
Can I afford to take a job that will cost more in gas and tolls than I'll be making? No.
If she calls, I'll go back, and give her a massage, and let her decide if she wants to make me an offer. And I'll go from there.
And I'll keep trying, and hoping for the best.