Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

All dressed up

Job hunt

It’s gotten less complicated, figuring out what to wear to the job interview.

Good black suit and a white blouse, the heels that hurt my feet a little but not enough to make me limp. Not much jewelry, but then I don’t wear much anyway.

And contact lenses. My glasses are a little scratched, and contact lenses were cheaper than new glasses. I look presentable.

I remember fondly The Outfit that failed to get me  jobs years ago. But what a great outfit it was. Fawn suede skirt, creamy silk blouse with soft ruffles down the front, those fabulous shoes with hammered copper heels, and the camel hair coat with fox collar and cuffs.

It didn’t work for the Eagles Club and whatever fraternal organization lived in the basement. I’d dropped out of college for a bit and needed a job, and I figured I could be a file clerk. But the room, or the women in it, grew noticeably colder when I walked in. Somehow, we all knew I wouldn’t be a good fit.

The next time I trotted out The Outfit, I was in Madison, much happier at school there than I’d been at UWM. I thought I’d like to work at Ella’s, the famous deli then on State Street. The owner didn’t even bother to interview me. He just raised an eyebrow, laughed, and said “not what we’re looking for, sweetie.”

Eventually I figured out how to look the part, whatever the part was.

But for one job, I decided to throw “Dress for Success” out the window. It was a warm day after a long winter, and instead of the navy blue suit, I put on the red polka dot dress with a white jacket and killer heels. I wanted to look like the first day of spring. After I got the job, the secretary told me she’d asked which of the interviewees the chairman wanted to hire, and he’d said, a little dreamily, “the one in the polka dots--the one who looks like spring.”

Needless to say, that was long ago. Now, I look like business. Of course, so does everybody else. We all go in with our suits, our SOAR and CAR stories--the little anecdotes that put your accomplishments in the best light--polished as well as our shoes.

I wonder how they can tell us apart. We not only look the part: we are the part. We’re all skilled and qualified. And then some.

These days, an employer can get everything on his check list and more. If you’re a sales professional with a Six Sigma black belt who speaks Swahili and has an MBA, you’ll find yourself sitting next to a Six Sigma black belt who speaks Swahili and has an MBA and EMT certification, and maybe a Doctor of Divinity on the side.

But I wonder if they’re doing a better job of hiring with all the software filters for resumes and Prove-it tests and group interviews.

When you had to hire someone who didn’t fit the description perfectly but showed promise, someone you had a hunch about, sometimes you got something even better than you'd imagined.

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