Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Purple Unicorns

I began my day today as I often do with the important stuff, the sports section of the New York Times. Then, true to form, I moved on to the Op-Ed section.  There I came across what looked like important advice from Thomas L. Friedman in a column entitled How to get A Job.  He describes HireArt, a start-up designed to bridge the divide between job-seekers and job creators.  Perfect.  I’ve been doing my part to keep the percentage of unemployed up there for some time now. A bridge would be nice.
The problem, as I understand it via Mr. Friedman, is that job-seekers apply indiscriminately – “they apply to as many as 500 jobs in four or five months without doing any research.”  Companies, on the other hand “are all looking for purple unicorns:  the perfect match.  They don’t want to train you and they want you to be overqualified.” 

This may explain why I have enough time on my hands to write this morning.  But I need HireArt to solve a different problem. I don’t mass mail resumes.  I actually think about whether the jobs I apply for make sense for me and whoever is doing the hiring.  Probably two years ago, or more, I discovered (just how I cannot recall) that the College Board was looking for someone to work for them in arts education.  “Well now,” thought I.  “It’s about time. Here am I, a veteran educator with an arts background, including many years at a school that packs students off to all the best colleges. What an interesting and potentially profitable match for both sides.”  Being somewhat old fashioned, I tried to discover someone at the Board I might talk with. Despite employing my best “Who do you know at the College Board?” connections, I learned that the Board processes all resumes through its particular “Resume Reader”.  There seems to be a kind of firewall to avoid human contact early in the process.  Essentially, a computer (perhaps one on down time while it’s not scanning SAT’s) searches, or asks you to enter, key phrases from your resume. It adapts your resume to its particular format.  Then it “keeps you in mind” and sends out announcements every so often of available jobs at the College Board. Where humans with common sense enter the process, I do not know.  I think there are humans at the College Board, because the computer keeps telling me about promising matches for jobs which I presume real people do.  I never heard another word about that job in arts education, from either computer or human.  Maybe the poor computer gets flummoxed from sorting through the flood of resumes. 

Theater teacher/director, freelance writer, teacher of public speaking that I am, here are some of the announcements I’ve received lately:  E Mail producer; Support Center Analyst; Director, Online Instructional Design & Development; Photo Editor; Senior Director – Division Planning & HR Liaison;  Executive Director, Teacher Product Support Services; Senior Director/Executive Director – Marketing Strategy – Assessment Products;Director Mathematics Curriculum Development

Now, I fancy myself as a fairly well rounded, liberally educated person.  But, for the life of me, I cannot fathom how in its search for purple unicorns the College Board’s computer passed me over when my credentials as an arts educator were valid, if indeed possibly even compelling.  Since then I’ve received a flood of College Board openings, each more fantastic than the last when it comes to my skill set. These offerings make a purple unicorn seem absolutely pedestrian by comparison.  The set of jobs announcements above arrived in just the last month.

Maybe I should contact HireArt and let them know that sometimes it’s the company that floods the market with announcements, while a purple unicorn stands in full view and wonders why it’s not being seen.  Maybe HireArt has a job for me.  The art in my resume matches Art in their company name. It’s worth a try.  Gotta go.  There may be another 500 or so unemployed theater teachers with the same idea. I need to be at the head of the line. Unless, just by chance, anybody know anyone at HireArt?   

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