Archive for October, 2009

The Nurture of Lying

October 9, 2009

I just got a job. Yay me. However, that’s not what this post is about. See, I kind of tricked you. I don’t feel bad about it because it’s for a good cause.

In our society, tricking people usually is done for something good such as getting a job or selling something.

Thinking of selling was what got me to writing this post. I was thinking of how to get a hook into my synopsis for my novel, and I was thinking of making it something the publisher really wanted. So I was going to read a bunch of synopses of their other books and tailor mine to look similar, highlighting the areas that I think that they would be interested in.

I’m not going to claim that my book is different than it is, but I was going to flavor it a bit. Is this dishonest? I’m not sure, but usually if there’s a gray area, if you have to ask, it’s probably not right.

The worst thing of all is that if I do mislead them, it won’t get me published. I might get them to read my manuscript, but I don’t intend to change it for a publishing house. The novel is what it is. If they want it, they want it. If they don’t, a clever synopsis isn’t going to change that.

Why do fudge my synopsis then?

I think part of it is selfishness, my urge to succeed outweighing all other things. In our society this drive isn’t even thought of as selfishness rather it’s a kind of healthy drive that a good consumer has. Our society also has a lot of depressed people. As a former member of the later group, I tend to try not to make myself depressed again which means acting as morally as I can. Yes, I believe that morality makes you happy which is why I’m so obsessed with this question: why do I have such an urge to deceive?

I think that part of the blame goes to our the career counseling industry where they teach us to “emphasize the skills the employer is looking for.” I agree that you have to give these people what they are looking for. There’s no harm in letting them know what you can do.

However, this isn’t as cut and dry as it sounds. There’s always an urge to fudge a little.

“I don’t know this protocol, but I watched someone else do it in the lab for a year.”

“I never did this procedure on my job, but I did attend a training for it.”

“Whatever I don’t know, I can learn. I’ll pretend I did this job before.”

“If that teacher didn’t screw me out of one point, I would have graduated from Harvard so I’ll just put it on my resume anyway.”

Some of the above things are seen as clearly wrong and others are seen as OK, even logical to put on a resume. On one hand, you can lose your job for lying on the other hand, you won’t get a job if the employer doesn’t see what they want. And you are hardly every a PERFECT match for any job. Nobody ever is.

What’s an applicant to do?

I really don’t know. I’m not a career counselor. I can tell what I did to get my job. I put the truth on the application.

When I was in the interview, I had to answer this question a bunch of times, “You had a bunch of lab jobs.”

I said, “Yes, I worked in the lab for many years, but I wanted to work closer to people. I wanted to administer the medication instead of just making on in a lab.”

This was exactly the feeling I had before applying to nursing school, and the employment review panel accepted that. My new job is going to pay very well for my lifestyle. It will allow me to do some research on the side and some other cool gigs like helping the poor in Mexico. My supervisor is a compassionate and effective person.

But it took a long time for me to get the job. When they called me for an interview, not only had I given up on this position, but I had actually given up on getting a job altogether.

If it wasn’t for my wife supporting my novel writing habit, I’d probably have gone insane at the very least, I would have been homeless.

Still, I think it’s wrong the way they teach us all to lie. I think it sucks that they give us tough decisions: lie or starve. The bigger lie is that with the right skills and experience, a job is easy to find or that persistence is the answer. I don’t think that this is true. I only got a job after I had completely given up on getting one. This is often the case with me. No amount of punching a wall with your fist will break a brick wall. Similarly, sometimes things are just impossible. But we are told to keep punching that wall. Keep lying.

The honest thing to say would be that if you aren’t rich or well connected, the system IS balanced against you. It IS unfair. Accusing those who don’t have jobs of, “not trying hard enough.” Is as deceitful as it is cruel.

There were days when an engineering major NO DEGREE would be offered a job right off the street. These days are over forever. It makes no sense to laud these people as “hard workers” and to chastise our generation as “lazy” when these are the circumstances. Yes, many of the people hired off the street were brilliant and hard working. But you can say the same about many who now unemployed.

I didn’t want to write this article before because I was afraid of being unfairly accused of being envious of those who were successful. Hell, I respect those who are have success. I had success, too.

Now I realize that all my successes were luck. This is what people need to know when they are looking for a job. You will see your colleagues who are dumber and lazier than you get ahead. Over and over again.

You need to retain your honesty. Don’t suck up too much to an employer. Don’t pretend you are a corporation or try to make a phony brand. Just be yourself. You. You aren’t born a brand. You are born a human being. We work because we need something useful to be done, as human beings, and we need to be fed because this is a human need. We don’t need to promote a brand.

This is just a more elaborate version of the same bullshit we’ve been fed our whole lives.

Another piece of bullshit is that jobs are fulfilling. They can be, but they aren’t designed to be fulfilling. They are designed to maximize revenues for the owners. That’s it. If you find fulfillment in it, great. I hope you do. I urge you to work hard and to try to enjoy the job. But don’t fool yourself.

Companies don’t care about allowing one to have a fulfilling career. They want to make money, and if they can make a buck (or a penny) doing it, they’ll cut you loose.

Best of luck getting a job. Work hard. Apply to many places. But don’t lie. Don’t be someone else. Don’t drink the kool aid or drink the bullshit.

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