Friday, February 22, 2013

At What Point Does One Throw In The Towel?

More resumes were sent out today; I've stopped counting how many this makes. 

The reality seems to be that companies have embraced the web for recruiting and refuse to accept resumes and SVs delivered in person. These virtual firewalls erected around the person(s) doing the hiring has made the process impersonal and unresponsive, perhaps proving that it is not what you know, but who you know that matters.

Many friends have told me about the importance of networking. Others have suspected that my back story, which is not so secret, could be the reason for not getting any hits on my job applications. After all, in this internet age, little remains a secret for very long. Then, a fellow trans woman suggested to turn my transgender status into an asset. Will companies really see this as a positive, in the same way that hiring visible minorities or disabled persons can earn them valuable bragging rights about diversity and equality?  


* * * * * 

A few of months ago I listened with great interest to a discussion about age discrimination on CBC Radio. One fact that was discussed was based on a survey of IT managers. They were asked who they would hire if they had to choose between two candidates with equal experience and qualifications, but one was in their thirties and the other in their fifties. You guessed it, almost all said they would hire the younger candidate. The show went on to discuss how the "baby boomers," who find themselves unemployed today, are falling victim to this silent age discrimination.

I'm no spring chicken—I was born in November 1950 (you do the math). Lucky me, I not only need to put a spin on being transgender, I also have to somehow overcome my age status. 

Then a friend on Facebook informed me that companies that recruit on-line have software that vets the hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of resumes they receive. Only those that match specific keywords and phrases get short-listed. So if your resume lacks those magic words, good luck.

Now, the job I have been trying to find is technical in many ways. Being able to use the latest versions of graphics software is a given. Specialization in different areas can also be an asset, for example, having the ability to code stuff for the internet. But, the most important asset is creativity and the ability to execute your ideas; this is imperative. How can this be communicated effectively on a resume that is analyzed by a computer? God knows.


* * * * *

Last week, in a "hail Mary pass" sort of way, I wrote an open letter to my colleague members of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC). If you don't know this about me by now, I believe in putting all my cards on the table. In this letter, I talked about what it has been like since my transition in 2008. How my free-lance practice has all but dried up and asked for leads for a job. This, you could say, was my attempt to cast a larger net, hoping to get a few nibbles. I know, mixed metaphors; but you get the point.

The graphic design profession is unfortunately one where the waters are pretty muddy. For years, the GDC tried to make the profession regulated in much the same way engineers and architects are regulated and licensed. The problem with graphic design today is that anyone with a computer and the right software can go into business claiming to be a graphic designer. How many times do I hear that a nephew or a cousin can design a logo for fifty bucks, versus the minimum I'm able to do it for, which could be ten to fifty times more, for starters. 

To be designated a Certified Graphic Designer (CDG), the professional designation of the GDC, one has to go through peer review and the quality and depth of the work submitted needs to demonstrate a high degree of professionalism. I wish this designation would be enough to convince a potential employer of my suitability for the job. Could it be that no-one outside of the GDC even knows what it means to have that designation?

What to do?   

Like many of the baby boomers who were interviewed in that radio program I mentioned above, I am now wondering if it is not time to throw in the towel. Maybe, like them, I should be applying for a job at Walmart or Home Depot? Or maybe it's time I run an ad with the following headline:


If you want to look real good,
hire this 62 year-old transsexual woman, 
she's a pro!

Then again, maybe I'll be considered too hot to handle. Of course I'm joking. (Laughter does seem to help.)