Monday, 28 June 2010

Getting to play god.

I've had a week or so in the position - which I still find bizarre - of being a 'grown-up boss': I have been recruiting a couple of new junior staff. In a small-ish business like ours  this is very much a one-person job without much formal process. It's also something of an eye-opener.

Unless you are a completely cold bastard it's impossible not to feel a paternalistic glow when offering someone a job that will give them the first foot on the ladder of their chosen career. Or equally -  feeling awful when you  have to dash others' hopes with a rejection. 

In reality it's often only a very precariously narrow thread that divides the two. It's inescapably a buyer's market at the moment. From an overwhelming field of qualified  and deserving candidates, you inevitably start making decisions by weeding out the badly laid-out CVs and the spelling mistakes in covering letters. (Although given that we are a graphics arts business that's not quite as arbitrary and heartless as it sounds).

And when you do get to the short-list for interview - at which point, given that this is a first job position there is pretty much a level playing field - you inevitably  fall back on choosing  the people you like best:  My own prejudices are not sexist or racist, but they do  favour people who I think are quirky and not boring - people who dress with a bit of individualism or display interesting tattoos - or better still people who are into any of my own extra-curricula interests.

Worse still, a sad reflection of the present economic climate, and the state of my own industry, is that the only objective criteria of differentiation is often the number and variety of unpaid internships that these candidates have undertaken.

In all this I'm always  very conscious that my own 'career' (for what's it worth) has hung off a few lucky breaks and twists of fate. And having kids of my own I'm very conscious that theirs' will too. But I have nothing to offer on any of this - you just try to do the right thing in the context of what is in front of you. 

It's depressing to reflect on how much talent is wasted and how many lives never get the chances they deserve. And if you don't stop and ponder that once in a while then you're well on the way to becoming just another arsehole-cog in the capitalist machine.

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