Friday, October 30, 2009

Widening the Net of Potential Careers

If you're on the dole in Illinois, you're required to set up a profile on the Illinois Skills Match site. Which I did after my first visit to the unemployment office. This amounts to finding the list of skills related to your previous job (or the job you want) and selecting the range of years that best describes how much experience you have with a particular skill. For instance, how many years' experience do you have in using a personal computer? Less than 1 year, 1-3 years, 3-5 years, more than 5.

Recently, I poked around further on the site and discovered that I could include skills from other career sets. For instance, my few years spent teaching high school students granted me a few more skills to add to my profile. This makes me more employable.

The point of the profile is to attract Illinois employers who are perusing the Web site. Ideally, the system works like Realistically, it's a different story.
Imagine my delight the other day when I logged on to find 4—count 'em, FOUR—jobs awaiting my reply! Not one was directly relevant; one was truly a dangerous fit. "CHEMIST," it read.

Chemist? Yeah, based on the fact that I'd successfully taught a remedial biology class for a few months while the science teacher recovered from surgery. Worse, I failed the one and only chemistry class I took as a youngster. I asked more questions than the teacher had answers for and simply couldn't move forward with the material unless I understood it. Could I have just memorized the equations and conducted the experiments as my friends suggested I do? Could I have just not cared so much and not thought so much and aced the class like my lab partner did? Sure. But I didn't. I kept trying to find context to the lessons.

Now, looking back, I think I probably could have bluffed my way through the class. But I refuse, no matter how desperate I become, to bluff my way into a job. Especially a job in which I could blow up a room.

Sigh. Honesty has its drawbacks when jobs are scarce.

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