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Dicked Around

Longtime readers might remember a passing reference to a job interview I was pretty stoked about awhile back. It’s pretty clear that I didn’t get the job; if I had, I probably wouldn’t be quite so enraged about everything. What I neglected to mention is that—perhaps adding to my rage—it was down to me and one other person, and the other person got the job. I received a pretty heartfelt phone call in which they told me they had to go with the other candidate, strongly hinting that they felt he was unqualified (not that I was, but hey, they liked me) and he was being pushed on them because he was an internal candidate.

Well, I got that interview through my friend Mark (now would be a good time to check out the new Cast of Characters link in the sidebar), who worked for the law firm. He would send me periodic e-mails with other jobs I might be good for. Many of them I felt like I was too unqualified for, and I didn’t want to keep applying to jobs I had no shot at and risk pissing off the HR lady. Around September, a similar job in the same department opened up. I applied…and heard absolutely nothing.

I was never sure why. At first, I thought the “we really wanted to hire you” call was bullshit, but why? I had interviewed for a totally different position prior to that, and I discovered the hard way that company policy is to just send a polite rejection letter. They didn’t need to call—in fact, they called me on a Friday afternoon and by the time I returned, they were gone for the day, so I spent the whole weekend assuming I had the job. That kind of sucked, and it’s probably one of the many reasons why bland rejection letters are preferred. I thought the call was really nice—not as nice as getting the job, but again, they didn’t have to call at all. They could have left me assuming that I’m a crappy, unskilled, and inexperienced prospective employee.

So I moved on to pinning it on the HR woman. Either she believed the open position wasn’t a good fit for me, or (more likely) she already had a candidate she was rallying around. I know the way the human resources game works: they get a candidate or two for a position and run them as far as they can down the line. If you come in too late, you’ll never hear from them, because they don’t want to upset the balance of the candidates they’ve already chosen. I was tempted to go to the people who interviewed me, circumventing HR completely, but I decided not to. It seemed like a breach of etiquette, and I didn’t really want to have the people who nearly hired me get pissed off and not hire me.

Cut to: today. A position pops up on their website—the exact position I nearly got lo those many months ago. I check the website maybe once every two or three weeks, just in case something relevant pops up. I was under the impression Mark quit the job several months ago, so I didn’t figure he’d be keeping up with their employment postings. So I filled out the online application and sent it in.

Then I thought, Maybe this time I should harass the head of the department. If the HR woman is never going to contact me, I really don’t have much to lose by going over her head…right?

I tried to remember if anyone—of the six or seven people I met in the department—had given me a business card—essentially granting permission for me to harass them—but I couldn’t find one. His communication info is splattered on his profile on the site, though. I thought, I could say he gave me a business card. This was in May—would he really remember? The only way he would is if they never gave anyone a business card.

Still concerned, I e-mailed Mark. I figured he’d at least know the ins and outs of this company’s particular hierarchy. He could tell me whether or not it would be a problem to contact someone I barely know, who isn’t in human resources, about an open position.

Mark had been strangely MIA the last 10 days or so. The last I heard from him, he sent me an e-mail; I replied, asking a few basic questions, but never heard anything back. It was weird, but not in a suspicious way. He does that sometimes, and since he got married I don’t see him as much. No biggie, right?

Wrong. Turns out, Mark never quit the job. I don’t know why I thought that; I remember him getting really frustrated with his boss and quitting. Maybe he just said he was tempted to quit but never went through with it. I honestly don’t remember, and it was obviously not something we discussed over e-mail (yes, I went back through the old ones). He e-mailed me back within an hour to tell me, sheepishly, that he wasn’t sure he could (or should) give me any good advice because he had applied for the same job—and was interviewing for it this afternoon.

He fell all over himself with apologies and half-assed explanations: the only reason he didn’t let me know was because I’d been given the runaround the last time, he didn’t think he had a shot in hell of getting the job, he wanted to show the company he had interest in a full-time position (right now he’s part-time, but as he describes it, he makes a full-time salary working half the hours), blah blah, etc.

I don’t want to be mad about this. It’s his prerogative to tell me or not tell me. It’s his prerogative to decide, “Hey, if Stan almost got this job, I’m a shoo-in.” And in some ways, it’s on me for not checking this particular site for jobs on a daily basis, cutting him off at the knees by asking him for a referral before he even sees it on the site himself.

I’ve been dicked around by this company more than once (even in the optimistic interview stage, the HR woman gave me the runaround), and now I’m being dicked around by a good friend. I feel pathetic for paraphrasing Michael Scott from The Office, especially since he’s talking about his girlfriend and not just a regular friend, but it all comes back to this: you expected to be dicked around by your job (even one you haven’t gotten yet)—but not by friends.

I talked it out with some other people. I don’t know if it’ll get me anywhere, but I think I found a pretty good strategy for contacting the department head without pissing off either him or the HR woman. If they liked me as much as I thought they did, he can bug HR for my resume. If he didn’t, that’s that.

I hope this strategy works out, even though it has FAILURE written all over it, because then I can fuck Mark over. We’ll be even, and then we can go back to being normal friends again. No muss, no fuss.

If it doesn’t work out, though…I’m a hell of a grudge-holder.

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