Linked In

^^ LinkedIn — a website that suggests vital networking connections but which, after eight years belonging, hasn’t won me a single gig, job, or contract. This actually is a feature, not a bug, as the saying goes.

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The headline is no joke. How DO you actually get a job ? From what I have seen, these past decades of my life, the necessary prerequisite to getting a job is to already have one.

If you have a job, it’s simple to get another one. Your co-workers know people. Headhunters recruit you — because if you have a job, it’s easy for them to fit you into a slot, and headhunters need a slot that can be fit to. Transferring from one slot to another, not so easy; your job-finder has to actually work at it, and headhunters don’t want to work at it, not when their commission isn’t any greater whether they move you from widget painter at Company A to widget painter at Company C, or whether they work to move you from widget painter, first class, to widget packager, third class. But in any case, if you already have a job, you can reasonably expect to move to another one.

And if you don’t have a job ? ( a ) headhunters are really, really glad to get you interviewed for a job selling stuff, especially stuff that nobody will buy. Headhunters have all sorts of such jobs on the shelf — the back shelf in the back room — sent them by recruiters for sales work, recruiters who head-hunters would love to add to their rolo-dex because who knows when these recruiters might actually send Headhunter Joe a job that Joe has dozens of clients ready to fit that slot ? So there you are : Headhunter Joe says, “Mike, I have the greatest job for you, you are SO lucky, it won’t last long. Can I send your resume to my contact ?” And you of course ask, “what is the job about ?” Headhunter Joe : “selling ads for the phone company. Their book is to close in tgwo months and … Mike ? Mike ? Are you there ?”

I hung up. So would you.

I simmer down and call Heady Joe back. “Joe,” I tell him. “I’m looking for a job as an editor. Editing is what I do. Is there an editing job or isn’t there ?”


Joe gets his smile on and finally responds : “Editing jobs don’t come every day, Mike. But you know I am looking. Your resume is on top of my desk.”

Sure it is. Like the turd that I shat yesterday is on top of mine.

So that’s how it goes. You can’t get a job doing what you do unless you already have one, and if you don’t have one, it’s off to sell ads for the phone book.

Straight commission, no less. No salary, no expense money.

Thus it was that led me to the job I now have. Because if you don’t have a job, there actually are jobs that you can get. What jobs are these ? Easy : jobs that few people will do. Those, you can get any time you like. It does help to know someone who has one, as with any job; in my case, my wife got the job for me. One phone call, one on-line application — and tens of forms to fill out — and back came the e mail : we are excited to welcome you to our team…”

EXCITED, no less. You laugh ? So did I. What is this job which the company was EXCITED to give me ? I’ll tell you about it later. But first let me offer some more observations about the job world :

( a ) the best time to get one from point zero is at college or high school graduation. Companies are always happy to hire young folks who don’t know shit, don’t have a network in place, unformed brains whom they can train to do things the company’s way. Every year from then on, it gets harder to be hired. The more experience you have ion a job, the less desirable you are as a hire. If you acquire enough experience to become an expert you are totally fucked. You’ll have to start your own business.

I kid you not. Take my own example. I am an expert political campaign manager, and because I know campaign work cold from top to bottom, I am anathema to consultants. To become a campaign manager these days (not in all cases, but in most) you have to not ever have worked on a  campaign and to know nothing about it. Hired to manage one, and they hand you a “voter file” program and tell you that’s what you will use. Not a voter list, oh no, never. A voter list, for the district in which your candidate is going to campaign ? Heavens no. The rule now is, that if you aren’t on a “super voter”: list — those who have voted in each of the last umpteen elections for the office your campaign seeks —then you do non’t get campaigned to. This is how one arrives at the 11 percent (11) turnout in the recent Queens County District Attorney campaign won by a defense lawyer who intends to dismantle the office. But what do I know ? Answer : I know too much.

You wonder why so many voters think the system crooked, or that nobody in it listens ? Just step into a current campaign and you’ll quickly learn that the voters, as always are right. The system IS crazy. And yes, nobody in it does listen to you unless you are already in it. Capeesh ?

Most insurgent campaigns from the left are just as bad. They too use “super voter” files and avoid anybody who hasn’t voted in the last umpteen elections. The difference is that most insurgent campaigns of the let are run by, and peopled by, students — high school and college — and it’s simply a social fact that everybody who is 18 years old, or 22, knows everybody who is 18, or 22 — because they all go to school, mostly in the same system. And so they tell their friends, and the friends tell friends, and a kind of ad hoc, second campaign develops, large enough to beat the default campaigning opponent.

For the rest of us, thus escape valve isn’t open. Once you move into the adult world, you’re too busy with job and family to maintain those close social ties, and gradually you lose contact with one another. By the time you’re 50, you hardly know anybody any more, and if you are already in office, you’re usually running on habit and a familiar name, the enthusiasm and networking of student years long worn away.

But what do I know ? I know too much. To be hired into the current world of political campaigns I would have to unlearn everything and become an enthusiastic student of bullshit. How else but bullshit would you describe the glossy card stock mailers that every campaign sends out now, usually on the same day ? They look the same because they are the same, and most voters, when they receive this avalanche of picture-color, advertising-lettered fliers, either toss them aside onto the hallway table or throw them into the trash barrel.

They look like ads from the telephone book and are produced by the same mentality that would try to headhunt you for a job selling ads for telephone books.

Which leads me to the job I now have. It pays $ 14.00 an hour, for 30 hours a week,and when added to my social security income, enables me to pay my bills, go out to dinner once in a while, and take the wife on a weekend outing in mid-Coast Maine on Labor Day break. Other than that, I am free to operate my own business — which, as I said, is the fate of those who actually know how to do things — writing and editing, with my partner Heather Cornell, at the website you have now visited, the political and parental advice world of Here and Sphere.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere