Up Late

I’m up late tonight, first time in a while. Unlike most of the other times when I’m up late, tonight it is not by choice, and tonight I’m not enjoying myself too much. This week, I’ve enjoyed a strong coffee every single day, and now I’m paying the price. Well, either that or I have another interview coming, or both.

Earlier today (or yesterday), I mentioned going on an interview, but I didn’t talk about what happened. Well, it was a pretty short interview, less than 20 minutes, and the reason it was short was that I wasn’t that into the job, and it was probably apparent to the interviewer. We had a friendly and honest discussion, I told him I wasn’t feeling it, he thanked me for my candor, and the interview was over.

When I checked in with the recruiter afterwards, she kept asking me what I disliked about the job. I kept trying to tell her that there wasn’t anything that I disliked, that it just didn’t seem like a good fit. It didn’t seem like she understood. This was a different girl than the one I’d been corresponding with; I’d never even met her. I wondered if she understood that it’s already hard to understand a person, period, and that it’s even harder when you’ve never met them, when the longest conversation that you’ve had has been a couple of minutes on the phone. It is difficult to match a person with a job when one does not fully understand all the pieces.

At this point you’re probably asking why the heck I agreed to the interview if the job wasn’t my thing, and I’d tell you that yes, I fucked up, I don’t know what I was thinking. I was on the fence, and I was seeing if anything I learned during the interview would help me decide. But, as I write this now, I also realize that I didn’t get the job description until after we got off the phone and I had agreed to do the interview. I did err, but at the same time maybe I was sold a bit too hard on the job.

Which brings us to tonight. Remember how I said I have another interview coming? Well, the exact same thing happened today. This time, it was the big mama, the supervisor of the other two ladies (she mentioned that one of had them worked under her for a while). You could tell she was the big mama; she was a lot more direct and talked really fast (and I thought recruiter #2 made a hard sell). Because it was our first time talking, she asked me what kind of position I was looking for. I hesitated a bit and told her I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do (I Got Nothin’, remember?). I then mentioned that I disliked wearing a suit and tie. She proceeded to lecture me on the ways of the working world here in Hong Kong, telling me that it is different here than it is in “Cali”. I got a bit defensive after that. When we ended the call, she said she was going to see if she could get me an interview, but in my mind I thought she was just being polite and that my relationship with this firm was over.

A few minutes later, she calls back and says she got me an interview with this big firm. Damn. She tells me to prepare well and to call her on Sunday to practice, and to meet with her before the interview on Monday. By this point, my hands were shaking and my head was aching. I was flustered. Maybe I had been caught off-guard because it was already late-afternoon/early-evening on a Friday, I had been preparing dinner, and I was completely unprepared to answer job-search questions. Either way, I ignored my body’s warning signs and did not reject the interview. Again, I don’t know what I was doing. It was like going to a car dealership: “I’ll see if I can get you an interview” reeked of “let me check with my boss in the back to see if I can knock off $2,000”. At the end, you say to yourself “what the hell just happened?” Once again, I didn’t get the job description until after I had already agreed to the interview.

When I saw it, I immediately knew that I didn’t want the job. I tried calling back, but since it was the end of the workday, I couldn’t get through. I had to wonder whether the timing of the call was carefully designed for such an outcome. It is the end of the month and I know they have quotas to meet. Another funny thing is how recruiter #2 and Big Mama keep saying that I’m a good communicator, and that these positions require more than technical skills. I’m thinking, how could they know whether I’m a good communicator if they’ve never even met me, never even had an extended conversation with me? Hell, Big Mama freely admitted that she hadn’t even looked at my resume. Also, the girl that had worked under her for “a while”? According to her LinkedIn profile, she’s been at the firm less than a year. The whole thing just seems a little fishy.

Admittedly, I could just be paranoid and seeing things that aren’t there or ignoring things that are (i.e. someone taking time out on a Sunday to help me) so I can avoid getting a job where I have to wear a suit and tie. But, it doesn’t matter. One thing I’ve realized working with an agency is that they will find positions based on what they think are good matches. Even with the best of feedback, nobody knows you better than you, so matches will always be lacking when a 3rd party is involved. Secondly, this particular agency works with professional companies, and as big mama kindly pointed out, how you look is a big deal in these industries, especially in Hong Kong. Call me overly idealistic, but I believe that people should be judged on merit, their character, and their ability to do a job, not the clothes that they wear. When people are comfortable, they do a better job. I have never, ever been comfortable in a suit and tie, and at this point in my life I’ve learned that it’s OK to finally say so. I refuse to further perpetuate the notion that clothes somehow make a person. They do not, and although that may not be what most people think, I choose to live the change that I want to see in the world.

Tomorrow (actually, later today), I will call Big Mama to cancel my interview and discontinue further job searches on my behalf. I will thank them for helping me to land two interviews, and I will be grateful to them for helping me to see what truly matters to me.

Update 3/30/14 9:31 PM: I was unable to get in touch with Big Mama until today, and while her slightly-less-than-amicable (I’m being polite here) reaction was understandable, I’m not sure it was warranted given all of the circumstances. I was once again lectured, this time about the pressures of working in Hong Kong, and how Hong Kong might not be the place for me (I know this already, just like I know that “Cali” is not Hong Kong). Although the adrenaline was pumping a bit after the call, it was not as bad as the other day (I was somewhat prepared this time). I’m actually kind of proud of the way I handled it: I kept my cool (remembering what’s important to me) and remembered that the purpose of the call was to communicate my intentions, and not to get into it with her. In the end, my gut instinct was correct; from the way she behaved after I told her of my misgivings during the first call, to the way she attacked me today, this recruiter was not looking out for me.