Welcome to my blog, HR folks/prospective employers, or: Freedom of Speech is a Serious Thing

What is this, Communist Russia?

Yeah, my resume looked pretty good; I have not one but two hard-earned BAs in difficult subjects and an employment track record that includes five years of being entrusted with perfecting the copy at a major metropolitan weekly newspaper. But then you Googled my name and you found the blog which I felt I was forced to begin if I wanted to support my fiction writing with an online presence. Now that we’re both here, instead of you summarily deciding that I am far too cranky and dark in my humor to ever slip into a persona that will work for your team, why don’t we, instead, have a short word about freedom of speech, followed by a slightly longer one about hiring policies.
Allowing freedom of speech is one of the things that makes our society something to be proud of. Indeed, it is shameful for political regimes to lock people up for stating unpopular opinions.
But at least in prison, even most political prisoners get fed.
So why is it OK to de facto starve people who don’t write what you consider to be the orthodox opinion on their Facebook pages, blogs, and Twitter feeds? Social media and the blogosphere remain the main access point to public and social speech that most people have.
Making hiring decisions based on what you read on my blog, or asking to see my Facebook feed, is not just impinging on my freedom of speech, it is failing to even recognize the existence of personas. Do you appear to others to be the same person at work that you are at your Zumba class? You don’t do stupid dances in the boardroom, and I am not going to come into the office and lecture people about antinatalism.
In fact, I’m generally popular in the places I work, except with the assholes, whom I simply avoid if possible; I avoid office politics, even if I talk about politics on the blogosphere, and contrary to my cranky online presence I am actually quite chipper at work, simply because it makes others around me feel better, which in turn makes me feel better. It’s rather a mistake for you to throw my resume on the rejects pile.
Now. Can we talk about the possibly even more shitheaded mistake you may turn around and make while rejecting me? Let’s talk about “experience.” May I ask what you’re thinking when you write an ad looking for someone with five years’ experience in an extremely specific sector of a specific industry? You do know what you’re going to wind up with, don’t you? Well, unless you get a very devious liar for a new employee–congratulations!–you will get someone who’s merely been lucky.
Because we all know no one ever gets experience without having experience anymore; after all, you do design the hiring process to work that way! Someone who got that hard-to-get first experience is not necessarily going to be the best person to eventually shine at the work; they’re more likely to be someone who got the job through their mom, or dad, or college roommate, or cousin… in short, someone who’s not only been basically picked at random based on his degree of separation from Kevin Bacon, but someone who is not likely to appreciate his position, since he didn’t have to do or achieve or prove anything to earn it. What’s called networking these days has a more accurate name: nepotism.
My best experience card is a very unlucky one, since print media has rolled over and died, and you want five years’ digital media experience despite the fact that most of what Americans write on the Internet is still typed in English, on a QUERTY keyboard, just like it was back in the crusty old year 2001. But let me tell you what I did to earn that now-worthless experience chip anyway.
I went to the Chicago Reader knowing absolutely no one there; several of my to-be coworkers would later tell me me that I was the only person who’d been hired there without having a previous connection in ten years. I got that job by passing a proofreading test that almost no one can pass. I passed it without any experience as a proofreader, through my sheer aptitude and eye for written language. So do you suppose I can learn your sub-sub-sub industry’s preferred style? Do you suppose I can catch up to the lucky moron who has five years’ experience with the particular software your company happens to use? Computer programs are designed to be user-friendly; anyone of reasonable intelligence can teach themselves or use an online tutorial to learn any program you have. And within gaining a fraction of his weeks of experience with using such a program, I guarantee I can run rings around your CEO’s nephew.
Of course, you may still be thinking: “If this woman is so smart, what has she been posting all these weird opinions on the Interwebs under her real name for?” I’ve been posting them for courage and freedom of speech, mothers and fuckers. Courage and freedom of speech. If you think I should starve to death for that, have fun looking in the mirror.


  1. estnihil

    This scared the crap out of me, christ. All my empathy and shoe-putting ability just goes out the window when I hear of people doing this – I could never do that, ever. The shiny happy 'people are all good at heart' sort of paradigm breaks down whenever people get vetted in my opinion. We get warned all the time these days in school not to post X on the internet, since our employers will see and throw us in a landfill to die. I never really took it seriously until now because I was convinced that 'people couldn't be that stupid – they have a position to fill, who cares if it's with a *gasp* nonconformist'. You've opened my eyes I guess, though it's not really going to change anything. I'm far too lazy to conform.

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  2. MRDA

    Great entry! This Facebook-fishing bullshit is getting out of hand, and the "experience" thing always winds me up when cycling through vacancies.

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    Ann Sterzinger

    EO: That is ghastly. For what they pay dishwashers (I was one for five years during my "severely socially disabled" late-adolescent phase; I'd probably go back to it now if only I could get hired, and if only they still actually paid the legal minimum wage), they should be thankful you don't go out into the restaurant and strangle the patrons.

    MRDA: Thank you! The emphasis on experience only rewards slow learners and liars.

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      Ann Sterzinger

      Cash under the table. And then the person taking that cash for all their hard work doesn't have the energy, much less the money, to hire a lawyer, and the cops either don't notice or they look the other way.

  4. TGGP

    Did you actually get rejected for a job because of your online writing?

    I got fired from my most recent job after two days for the most bullshit reason. But my boss-to-be for the job (I think) I have lined up seemed understanding when I explained it. And I'm too cowardly to explain that here in the offchance that any meatspace person I've already told the story reads this and connects me to my online writings. Not that they're all that different from the stuff I say in person, which may be related to my history of getting fired.

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    Ann Sterzinger

    Yeah, statistically speaking almost nobody wants anything of substance said in their presence. So if they can move your talkative presence away from their own, they pretty much will.

  6. James Hedman

    Cogitating on your idea about automatically replacing any given writer's particularly overused word with another it came to me that the best replacement for the tedious reminders of your two hard-earned Bachelor of Arts degrees would be substituting "butt-fucked" for BA. This would unveil a whole new level of pain inherent in your normal diatribes. It's only an acronym replacement but let's try it out for size:

    "I have not one but two hard-earned BFs ." There! Sounds pretty good to me. Scans well too.

  7. Pingback: Halal & Hypocrisy XIV: Takin’ the Cake! | MRDA's Inferno

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