NYC Job Search Craziness (Part 2)

(continued from Part 1)

There was one point in time during which I had this chaotic week crammed full with 6 interviews – sometimes even two a day. It was nearly as crazy as it sounds. Some were funny, such as when I was invited into the office which seemed to employ exclusively overweight people and where the interviewer was asking me questions so fast I could barely keep up and eventually mocked her by responding in an overly slow manner (I’m guessing she was on a time limit to bring in the next goose). Some were icky, such as when I entered the room which smelled like cat piss and which would have been the place I would have worked at (heck no!). Some were just tedious, some were discouraging, and some were not too much fun.

Many thoughts were rushing through my head after such scam interviews, and the main thoughts were: “Why did I come to New York, what happened to the dreams I wanted to pursue, why is it just so hard to make it over here?” I keep hearing from many people that I came at a bad time, and that it will take a while for the economy to improve. But aside from this I do know people who have found a decent job, who were able to pursue their dream, who have made it here in their own little way. So why does it seem so hard for especially me?! No answers to this…
I thought it would be of advantage to speak two languages fluently, to have experienced both Germany and the States as a home, to be acquainted to both cultures. It seems like New York makes it unbelievably difficult to make this your advantage, your one light you can sway around your head, and to become noticed. Every time you offer your skills, talents, and education, someone finds a point against you. Be it your lack of work history, be it your lack of work history in New York (This is a biggie over here! If you don’t have New York job experience on your resume, you are in a hole you have to dig yourself out first!), or be it the salary issue. This is another point which really aggravates me: So many people are willing to work on minimum wage or beneath even though they could earn well over $18/h. And so many companies offer you a salary you would have laughed upon under different circumstances but now… well, you’re willing to suppress your anger and consider this kind opportunity.

I do have to admit, though, that most of these dubious job offers I found were on…tada… craigslist! Not the most serious platform on the job market, I know. But hey, I even went to interviews for jobs I found on monster and careerbuilder and was not blown away by what they had to offer, either. But in the end I found something the first day of October; I still work there, and I am once again on a job search.

By the way, the interview yesterday was okay. It was for a proofreader position at a translation agency. They invited me to come in for a couple of tests, which were supposed to take less than an hour but which took up one and a half hours of my time. The interviewer was barely interested in my personality and went straight to the testing center. At first I thought they were trying to use my German language skills to get something out of me, maybe a free translation, but, in hindsight, it might have been their usual testing procedure. Either way, I am not too interested in their position anyhow, because it would have not been on a full-time basis and they would have only needed me for a three-month-employment. However, I might have held a door open by emphasizing that if they were to need a translator, I would be willing to chip in whenever they were in the midst of a project. We will see how this goes; I think the interviewer was quite fond of me.

It took me a while to get used to the prospect of either falling for every unserious advertisement out there or to come up with a concept of how to differentiate between serious and false offers. So, to come to an end, I have included a list of things you might want to watch out for when job searching and which might help when you are looking for decent work. It is geared especially towards craigslist, but can also be used with monster, careerbuilder, and other sites.

This is what some words and symbols mean:

Located in Times Square = biggest scam ever
Located in Midtown = probably a temp agency posting stuff like this every day to fulfill their weekly head hunter quota
Looking for recent college grads to fill in numerous amounts of admin positions= see the above point
Pay dependent upon experience = you will start out with the bare minimum, around 10 bucks an hour (sometimes it falls below – I have seen job offers advertising work for crushing $8 (!!!) per hour); and by the way, the expression “pay will accumulate with experience” means about the same thing
Temp-to-perm job = you will be employed for one or two months and then they will substitute you with another candidate; or: they will start you off hourly and then you will have a hard time asking for an annual salary with benefits
No pay raise for another year = we are too cheap to pay you what you are worth and therefore our work mentality sucks
Great benefit package included = you might have a few benefits but for most of the services you will have to pay a high share out of your own pocket; also, most benefits are only available to you after 3 to 6 months or even longer
Salesperson job based on commission = the percentage of what you see on your bank account compared to what you actually sell might be as low as 5 per cent – not very promising, huh?
Job in New Jersey not far from New York = great, now you have to deal with paying taxes for two states, if you reside in New York. Don’t do it if it doesn’t pay you more than enough!
Assist your superior with meaningful tasks and being used to fast-paced environments = you will be doing your supervisor’s job, be paid less than him, and probably scoop in lots of overtime
Occasional overtime might be the case = 12-hour-days or more are the norm, leaving you with 8 actual hours paid per day

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One thought on “NYC Job Search Craziness (Part 2)

  1. […] Back then it was due to a transitional stage of moving from one country to another. This time around, I first went on a trip back home and then managed to snag a temporary gig with a major newspaper in New York. Unfortunately, it only lasted a couple of weeks so by June I was back where I had started. So, for the most part of spring and also summer, I’ve been sitting around waiting on good job opportunities to arise. Going through ads on Craiglist, Indeed, and Mediabistro in a highly competitive city as New York is no fun. Most jobs still happen through networking, I was told, but I and perhaps many others don’t have a big network when it comes to that. Moreover, I have friends who want to help but end up doing worse by proposing jobs to me which are the worst fit ever. After one bad interview in such a situation, I decided to take my fate into my own two hands and started applying to a handful of recruiting agencies. One was okay, the other 7 rather not. Some interviews here and there, a tentative job offer from a construction firm – after two months I had it. I was harshly reminded at how many ads are scams on the www and how frustrating it can be to send out promising applications but receive a weird reply back (read more on this topic in NYC Job Search Craziness (Part 1) and NYC Job Search Craziness (Part 2)). […]

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