Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Presumptuous as Hell

When you work for city or state government, it's often perceived that your salary is decent, your benefits excellent, and your job security rock-solid. I'm happy to report that my salary is excellent, my benefits are decent, and my job security is pretty good for someone who's not in a union. I can state unequivocally that I love my job.

Either that love shines forth from my LinkedIn profile like a beacon or people see where I work and think, "I could do that." I get a lot of requests to find people jobs. Once the landlord of a newly housed veteran asked me if I had any positions open for a friend of his, a social worker who didn't like her job. (I had called him becaues he was having some issues with his tenant.)

"Does she have any experience working with homeless veterans?" I asked.

"No, but I bet she'd really like it," he replied. After a moment he added, "You know, I know another guy who's really smart. He's not a social worker, but he's very smart and capable. Could you use a guy like him?"

For what? was my initial thought, which I kept to myself. I wanted to stay on good terms with the landlord, so I let him know the drill: sign up for a list and wait, wait, wait.

Anyone who actually works for the city knows that getting a city job is never a simple matter, especially for unionized positions. It often requires getting onto a civil service list, which is a matter of timing and luck. And people on those lists might wait years to be called for a job interview. I was lucky: I responded to a job ad for a newly created position within a newly created department, and waited only 16 days between interview and job offer. (And then waited about five more weeks for my start date, which felt glacial to me but for government jobs is blinding speed.)

Apparently many people subscribe to the belief that if you're the recipient of good luck, you should pay it forward by helping them get a job. I don't think they intend to be rude, but it's rather presumptuous. The morning before I spoke to that landlord, an acquaintance on Facebook accosted me:

Hey! I'm looking for a job. You should just hire me it'll be fun

He's the brother of someone I used to supervise. We talked about getting together for a drink, but it never happened. He's cute, but not very bright. Even if I were looking to hire, which I emphasize I am not, I wouldn't hire this guy. But I'm working on my tactfulness, so I didn't overreact.

Not in a million years ;) You wouldn't like working for the city. Tons of bureaucracy

That's diplomatic, right?

Aww boo but ok. What agency are you with ?

Persistent little bugger. But I told him which agency. He responded:

In the Bronx? Why can't I handle that

Not in the Bronx, that was my last job, which he would have known if he were actually paying any attention to my Facebook feed. Still, I tried to be diplomatic, because karma.

My program isn't hiring right now. I'm not sure if the agency is looking for case managers, but you have to take a civil service exam and be on a list for years before they call you

I hoped that would discourage him, and it did. Haven't heard from him since.

At least this guy has met me in person a few times and we used to work for the same agency. Recently I got an email from someone whose connection request I had hesitated to accept.

I hesitated because he's fairly junior, and at this point, not to brag, I am not. I was wondering if he was just connecting so he could mine me for contacts and job prospects. Against my better judgment I connected anyway, and the next day he sent me this:

Good evening Ms. Survivor, I'm very interested in clinical work with veterans. I was wondering if you know of any clinical positions available. Thank you, {name redacted}

I don't think he realizes how incredibly rude this is. I don't know anything about him aside from what he's posted on LinkedIn. If I were going to recommend someone for a position, it would only be someone whom I know well and trust not to make me look like a bad judge of skill or character. I can't say that for him.

I'm genuinely happy to help people I know and trust. Recently a recruiter emailed me asking to discuss a position as Deputy Director of Behavioral Health, offering a six-figure salary. Even though I love my job, I figured I had nothing to lose by talking to him. Turns out the job isn't right for me, but it's perfect for a former colleague; I called her and sent her the recruiter's contact information.

But I don't know this new connection. I've never seen his work. I don't know if he's a good person. Why on earth would I risk my reputation to recommend him for a job? I thought about responding to him along the lines of,

Listen, this is not how you network. You don't send an email to someone who doesn't know you and ask for a job. You get to know a person, and they get to know you, and then if they feel comfortable recommending you, they will. You come across as horrendously unprofessional and presumptuous.

But it's not my job to fix him, and I think that just ignoring his request will send the right message. If it doesn't, I can always block him.

This should teach me not to accept connection requests from junior-level people I don't know. If that sounds horribly pragmatic, well, it is. I got another connection request a week ago from a psychiatrist who's worked with veterans for 25 years. Hells yeah I accepted! But no more brand new starting out unknowns.

I've been used by enough men in my time; I don't need to extend exploitation into my professional life.

Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"