Whoring vs. Job Hunting: is there really a difference betwixt the two?

Nathan Hopper

Nathan Hopper

Job hunting is the last legal form of prostitution. No joke. There’s nothing funny about such a lascivious enterprise. It’s a sick, degrading world out there, but at least the threat of a disfiguring disease is nil. That’s about the only good thing I have to say.

So on to the bad things:

We regret to inform you that…

Thank you for sending your work, but…

Unfortunately, due to the number of application received…

Only candidates who meet our qualifications will be contacted…

No phone calls, please.

Looks good, but get in touch with us next year…

I applied for a job at Tom Daschle’s office in D.C. one summer. They even called back for a phone interview, which I butchered horribly.

Undeterred, the svelte-sounding recent graduate of Augustana still said she wanted to see some writing samples. This was a good sign. A very good sign. But after I sent the writing samples, they never called back. I think they threw out the writing samples. They did send a nice form letter, which was a bad writing sample.

Dear [Nathan Hopper],

Thank you for applying for [summer intern position] at Tom Daschle’s office….

That didn’t make me feel too good, but a case of beer that evening did.

The greatest insult was not that I didn’t get the job, it was knowing that until they actually read something I’d written, I was still under consideration. I was an agent in my own undoing.

In the past 30 days, I’ve applied for one job per day on average. I don’t know whom to curse. At first, I cursed some mysterious, Ming the Merciless type, destruction-minded terrorists whose major blunder was timing their attacks so close to my graduation — post WTC recession and all.

But then the panic and self-doubt set in. It’s not the recession. It’s because I’m an English major who lacks “4+ years technical writing experience with Fortune 500 company.” And “can effectively communicate with French and English speaking clients.” All this for $28,000 a year. How generous.

I tell these Nazis everything. They have nothing short of the most complete dossier ever compiled on Nathan Hopper. And all I know about them is that they feel really bad about telling me how I am utterly unemployable and under qualified.

So I’m out on my corner, every day, strutting my stuff for job hunters, hoping someone will stop and I can end my story like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. But instead, all I get is jeers and insults and it turns out more like Jodi Foster in Taxi Driver.

Even the more desirable fields are getting the cob, good and proper like. Engineers, up until about a year ago, had specialized terms to describe the groping and lustful looks from recruiters. They used words like Signing Bonus, Relocation Bonus, Stock Options, Health Club Membership, Student Loan Repayment, etc. It was a steamy Greek bath that nobody left unhappy.

But now, if the last Engineering Job Fair was any example, recruiters are content to show up only to hand out obscene amounts of pencils, glossy pamphlets, rulers, magnets and 16 oz. drinking cups with embossed logos. In short, We’re not hiring, but here are some cheap trinkets to show you how (little) we care. It’s a flirtation, an unfulfilled interlude and all it did was waste time. My advice to recruiters: put the kibosh on the plastic crap, and don’t show up unless you’re hiring. Nobody likes to have to iron their suit and print out 28 resumes on creamy ivory paper that costs an arm and a leg. It’s all abstinence, my dear reader – a dirty, dirty word.

E-mail comments to Hopper at [email protected].