Good on paper

A guest post from the amazing Fraylie. For those who don’t know her yet, Fraylie is a brilliant young woman who is at a crossroads in life. It’s a crossroads that many of us stand at for a very long time, buying more strawberry shortcake ice cream bars from the guy with the cart, and trying to figure out what the rest of our lives are supposed to look like. Fraylie graduated college not too long ago, and then worked as a waitress, and then got into grad school, but realized that grad school is incredibly expensive and that she wasn’t sure it was the right decision anyway. Now she’s looking for a job in NYC. But really, of course, she’s a writer. As you can tell:

I don’t look so great on paper.

What I mean is I am best as a human being.  With a voice that makes real, tiny vibrations and a body that slouches and sighs at all the right times, I am best sitting right next to you.  I am best when I laugh and I mean it.  It’s when you can see the sunburn on my nose and imagine sand and rock.  Then I know we’re playing a fair game.

I am bitter after so many rejections this week.  The interpersonal ones – I can almost deal with them more.  The ones where a guy stands me up or leads me on, at least I know that the power of my body tried its best.  I was there, speaking, hearing, listening and moving.  I offered everything possible, without compressing anything of the body into words and paper.

A few weeks ago, my body attempted to salsa, swinging its hips in a loose figure eight.  It leaned in closer, the voice shouted jokes over the horn section, and the man laughed.  He laughed, and then he never called again.  For whatever reason, he rejected me: my thoughts, my body and my presence. And I got over that rejection fairly quickly.

A job rejected me today. Or rather, a job rejected my credentials laid out on paper today.  It was a job I knew, definitively, that I would excel at.  And on paper, I did have the credentials, though another applicant more closely fit the position’s requirements at this time.

I really wanted this job.  I fancied apartments I could rent on this particularly reasonable salary.  Absurdly preparing for my imminent interview, I bought myself an expensive leather bag, big enough for a laptop and a change of shoes.

In my resume, I had been reduced to snippets of words and assumptions regarding those truncated symbols.  And then I had been judged by those symbols and their interpretations.  But that is how jobs make hiring decisions: they synthesize our self-described symbols and impose meaning on them.  The body doesn’t really play a part.  And how many applicants had research experience written on a resume?  Probably hundreds like myself.  But in my idyllic world of semiotic uprising, the body has the chance to activate these words in person, in the flesh, with facial expressions and vocal intonation.  But unfortunately, nobody has the time for that.

All week, I kept telling myself just make it to the interviewI have never been rejected from a job that interviewed me in person.  Surely this is bound to happen someday, but for now, I am confident in my presence.  I’m fairly charming, believe it or not.  I wanted the chance to present myself fully and honestly.  I wanted to impart real meaning and personage to my words on paper.  Because then I’d know that if I got rejected, we were playing a fair game.  But for now, I’m having a difficult time with rejection based on an invisible panel’s interpretation of words on paper.  Maybe next time I’ll make it to the interview.  It’s got to work out one of these days.


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Unroast: Today I love the way my calves look in summer dresses.  Thank you truncated career as a ballerina!


Kate on June 9th 2011 in guest post, life

15 Responses to “Good on paper”

  1. Anna responded on 09 Jun 2011 at 11:10 am #

    ME TOO. That is all.

    No but really, the worst part of all this cover-letter-and-resume sending is the silence on the other end. I too feel convinced that I’d have a fighting chance if they just let me talk to them in person and prove that I’m personable and not a psycho. It’s endlessly frustrating.

  2. Valerie responded on 09 Jun 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    I think this article sums up the job search pretty well. I’m frequently seen screaming at my computer that they’d hire me if they just met me, but these days with all the other hundreds of people out there searching for a job I’m just another name in a stack of papers. I feel your pain!

    It also doesn’t help being a writer, in my opinion, because I come out of the job search process thinking that all my writing must suck if I can’t write well enough to get a regular day job.

    However, when I write resumes for other people they always seem to get the job. WTH?

  3. zoe (and the beatles) responded on 09 Jun 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    this is the precise reason why i absolutely loathe filling out job applications. i always stumble on summarizing my previous jobs, the skills i preform well, and the things i want most from a job. every time i sit down to fill yet another one out (because i, like you, am a recent college grad choosing not to go to graduate school) part of me tires in the middle of all the scribbling and goes, “can’t we just like…talk about this shit in person?” to, you know, actually get to know the person instead of having her sum up her life in the confines of a few lines or a small box? one day maybe.

    anywho, good luck with everything! i definitely understand your frustration.

  4. Chloe' Skye responded on 09 Jun 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    Really beautifully written.

  5. San D responded on 09 Jun 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    It’s the way of the working world. Have I mentioned that it took me 7 years to get a teaching job? A job, that by the way, when I finally did land it, I was lauded for, praised and held up as an example for, over the next 35 years. So I decided during those 7 long years that I would do things that would beef up the resume in ways no one else’s would. I worked for a lawyer and learned how to work a printing press to print his forms, and upped the ante for the next job as a graphic designer, since I knew about printing first hand. I worked in a home for delinquent girls which upped the ante so when I got a job in a high school, nothing passed by me easily. I taught night school to adults who just wanted to learn how to throw on the potter’s wheel long enough to make a set of dishes (yeah, right). So when the fates aligned to where I did get a job interview, past the cold sterile *me* on paper, I was more than ready. Of course years later, when our personnel files were released I looked at the intervewer’s handwritten notes and condensed they said “passionate, but dresses funny”. Ha!

  6. Jak responded on 09 Jun 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    I am the same way–I’ve never been turned down for a job I’ve interviewed in person. It’s getting past that place where they’re looking at words on a page instead of my face and listening to my words that is the hardest.

  7. threegoodrats responded on 09 Jun 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    I was laid off two years ago and I’m still looking for a full-time job. I absolutely understand your frustration. What kills me is that you can take every bit of resume advice out there, but all that matters is what one person thinks – the person reading it on the other end, and you just don’t know what that one person is looking for. It’s a horrid cycle of hope and letdown. Just know that you’re not alone!

  8. Marie responded on 09 Jun 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    Oh, it hurts. It hurts. I just spent another couple hours job searching and had it verified once more that I am overqualified and underqualified for every job. Hey, I live in Las Vegas, maybe I should just sell my soul for a cocktail server outfit and pay the bills. I wouldn’t be the only one in Vegas with an advanced degree working on the Strip. Bah.

    Absolutely loved the writing. Very beautiful.

  9. Julia responded on 09 Jun 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    It’s incredibly comforting to hear that someone I so respect and admire feels the same utterly ego-shattering smallness that I have been privy to over the last year. In fact, I’ve found it comforting to hear this story told in different forms from different people of all ages and levels of success and each time I hear that story of feeling insignificant and tremendously undervalued (or not even existent) I find it much easier to be okay with wallowing in limbo.

    So, my dear Fraylie, I propose that we come up with a project. I want to write more, you are clearly a skilled writer, and we are experiencing something that our entire cohort can relate to. Call me up and let’s make a game plan…I’m thinking Lost Generation a la The Sun Also Rises.

  10. Fraylie responded on 10 Jun 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    Update: Dear concerned citizens, as this was written a week ago, I have since been on two interviews. Also, Julia: Do I know you in the real world outside the internet? I know several Julias, but help me out!

  11. Mandy responded on 11 Jun 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Had a thought: how about making a two minute video of yourself pertaining to the sort of job you want, posting it on the net, and listing the web address on your resume?
    A potential interviewer may not bother to look at it, but if they do, they will an easier time remembering you, and you might get points for thinking outside the box.

    What do you think?

  12. Erin responded on 13 Jun 2011 at 9:00 am #

    I’m the exact opposite! I can get an interview without too many problems, but as soon as I have to talk to someone (based on past experience), I am unlikely to get the job/position/scholarship/etc. It’s something I’m working on though. The exception to that is when I’ve looked for part-time retail work where pretty much nobody ever gets in contact with you and it’s like you’ve sent your CV out to a massive void. But in any case, I’m awesome on paper.

  13. Adrienne responded on 13 Jun 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    I totally get it, and I feel for you and everyone else out there going through the same thing. I’ve got a degree in Photojournalism and held a full-time gig at one company for nine and a half years.

    I left that job to find more fulfilling work and have yet to land it. Not only that, I can’t even get a ‘for now’ job. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Walgreens and several other places that regularly hire teens with zeo experience have all roundly ignored my applications.

    Frustration doesn’t begin to cover it. Like you say, though, it’s gotta work one day.

  14. x Corrine/Frock & Roll x responded on 16 Jun 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    What an amazing writer you are, Fraylie. I’m incredibly late to the party on this post, but I’m crossing my fingers for you and wish you every ounce of luck on your quest.

  15. Eat the Damn Cake » an ode to beards responded on 16 Feb 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    [...] about the time right after college, for ETDC. She worked as a waitress, considered grad school,  tried to get an office job, and went shopping for an appropriate outfit for interviews. When she did get an office job, she [...]