The State of Affairs
If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know that I took a three-month life break (which became a four-month thing) where I took a leave from teaching and did some “soul-searching.” Ironically, I’m back to teaching. I never really intended to go back to teaching this early. But one day, I dropped by at the uni and was having some papers signed when my boss asked me if I could take on some teaching units this term. She said no other prof could take them anymore and no applicant got qualified in the teaching demo. It was three weeks into the 10-week term and four weeks into my job-hunting.
Two of the three classes are literature classes. The idea thrilled me. Also I’m close to broke and I’m getting tired of applying for jobs. So I took the teaching units and got assigned to the other campus of the uni, which is closer to my house. It was a change of environment. I can say that I’m more zen now than I ever was before. Everything’s good.
Now let me talk about my job-hunting experience…
The whole four-week job-hunting process was really challenging, especially that I was a “career-shifter.” At the worst of times, the process gnawed at my self-esteem and I started to question all of my career decisions. One borderline-mean HR manager at a BPO company even picked at the fact that I had had many, short employments before I started working for the uni I’m working for now.
It got me asking myself: “Is it really my fault that my past employments weren’t right for me?”
So the next time I met my good friend, who has had as many jobs as I’ve had, I asked her if it’s our fault that we’re “job-hoppers.”
“No,” she said, “because sometimes it’s the employers.”
I believed her. She’s a career woman. Very hardworking and conscientious. I’d like to believe I am too. After all, we’re good friends and we share the same work ethic.
I remember when I had my first job. My parents, perhaps thinking they had brought up a spoiled brat or perhaps knowing perfectly too well that work is extremely different from school, advised me to endure and hold on to my first job as long as I could. However, after 6 months and a soul-searching trip in Sagada where I spelunked and trekked my way to clarity, I called my parents and told them I couldn’t do it anymore.
When I got back to Sagada, I was actually offered a salary increase. (Heh.) I resigned anyway and left the company that called me an “asset.” See, I left NOT because I wasn’t gritty or I was flighty. I left because I felt that my efforts were going nowhere and that the company’s practices made me feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable.
Moreover, I graduated from one of the best, mentally toughening, character-building universities in the country. I was also a Catholic school girl, and in Catholic school, we’re taught to practice fortitude like the martyrs did — to “Keep calm and carry on” with our personal crosses. So if there’s an association of all gritty people in the Philippines, I could be president of the Sta. Ana, Manila chapter. Hands down.
Writing this post, I was led to more questions on the issue of being a “job-hopper.”
- Why am I being discriminated because of my track record of “short” employments?
- How is it my fault that my previous employers couldn’t give me enough reasons to stay in the company?
- Why is the pressure of making me, an employee, stay in the company on ME?
It doesn’t make sense.
So I asked a good friend who’s an HR at a BPO company (call center, specifically) if having a track record of a “job-hopper” would affect one’s chances of getting hired for the position he’s/she’s applying for.
“Somehow,” she replied. “Commitment issue. But it can be worked out on in the interview. If the interviewee feels you’re a good fit (culture-wise) in the company, he/she will overlook your employment history.”
I then told her about this borderline-mean HR manager who didn’t like me because I was a “job-hopper,” and how my other good friend who was also a “job-hopper” didn’t get hired by another company for the same reason.
She jokingly said that perhaps the companies were looking for someone who will take root. “Usually the job is high-pressure or boring that’s why they’re looking for someone who has a staying power.”
I laughed. It was a gut feel I’ve always had since I started working and resigning. I thanked my good HR friend for answering my questions. I then chatted up another friend who’s also an HR at a BPO company (call center too) to get a second opinion. I asked her the same question: Does one’s being a job-hopper have any effect in his/her qualification for the position?
“Yes,” she replied. “Because companies value loyalty and commitment especially if the job is very specialized and the training takes time.”
“For one,” she continued, “It’s an additional cost when one gets trained then, after 6 months, leaves. The company doesn’t even get to maximize its training costs. Another thing is: What’s the reason for being flighty? Doesn’t he/she get contented or doesn’t he/she know about what to do with his/her life? It says a lot about the applicant’s personality.”
She then explained how in the call center industry, “The employee turnover rates are high and there are a lot of competitors,” so an applicant’s track record of “flighty-ness” and pay-related resignations (no matter the euphemism) are red flags.
Intrigued, I then asked her if there’s a valid or excusable reason for being a job-hopper.
“It depends” she replied. “Everything can be justified. [But] To be honest, there’s none.”
Well, I never was a call center agent and I have never applied for a call center agent position. I have also never accepted an offer or left a company because of pay-related concerns. I thanked my second HR friend and bid goodbye.
Data analysis. Although my two BPO-HR friends had different opinions on the matter, they agreed on one thing: high-pressure positions require some “staying power” or a history of company loyalty. However, it can’t be determined whether this discrimination against job-hoppers is common across all industries. Again, both of my friends are HR people at BPO companies. But at least now I know why that borderline-mean HR manager didn’t like me.
But I would strongly disagree on the idea that I’m “flighty.” If this is true, how come I’ve been working for this uni for two years and counting? Why did I take an indefinite leave when I experienced a major setback, instead of resigning?
Looking back, I should actually be thankful to that the borderline-mean HR manager for discriminating me for my “flighty” track record. In one way, she actually saved me from a high-pressure job that I may not like after all. But then, if she had any faith in the ability of her company to retain a “talent” like me, she would not be bothered by my previous “short” employments. She would not assign ME the responsibility of making ME stay in the company because clearly, that should be one of the company’s priorities. (*tips hat to Richard Branson and Google*)
Anyways, I’m trying to understand where these companies are coming from. I know I should NOT assign an absolute responsibility of employee retention on the company either. Some people are flightier than others. There could be a lot of reasons and a lot of factors as to why an employee leaves the company. Also, second HR friend is right: An applicant should know (however vague) what he/she wants to do with his/her career and not just aimlessly try for whatever position that’s “in” or high-paying.
On the issue of “job-hoppers being not easily contented,” one thing I’ve learned in my major setback (the one I mentioned earlier) is that, unlike what we’ve seen in the movies or led to believe in school, there is NO such thing as a perfect job. You take the the good with the bad. You just have to find that one company whose benefits overrides its weaknesses.
You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.