Monday, March 06, 2006

Human Resources?

Clean desk

Jay's desk, neatly arranged I've been doing a lot of applying for jobs lately.
Some of them are long-term-career jobs, and others are short-term-until-then jobs. I've noticed some inconsistencies within the world of Human Resources.

-The human resources that are particularly valued by the Human Resources departments tend not to be all human resources, but particularly those that are phrased "excellent social skills" or "excellent interpersonal communication," which I'm told means neurotypical communication styles and a chatty, extroverted demeanor. Clearly, some jobs like international diplomats or business people working with typical middle-to-upper class clients, may truly require as a job qualification the ability to small talk about nothing without seeming strange for long periods of time, but it seems odd, culturally limited, and ableist to me to require such skills of computer programmers, short-order cooks, or library aids.
Both Temple Grandin's writings on job interviews for people with autism and M. Evan's Why Disability Rights Aren't Enough note that it is discriminatory toward people with autistic experiences to be interviewed by HR departments that are seeking neurotypically-social candidates for technical or professional jobs, although even low-skill jobs often require more typical "social skills" to get through the interview than to do the job.

-While every career professional and job prep. book/website I've seen says that the applicant must firmly insist on calling within a week for an interview at the end of the cover letter, I've found that both workers in the field that I've asked for feedback and the people to whom I am applying seem not to like this. Perhaps this is different with academic/ministry/social work jobs than business jobs.

-I've found that while deadlines for application are typically firm (although occasionally first-come-first-serve), the deadlines for informing candidates are flexible to nonexistent. At first I was merely annoyed by this, but I think this could be viewed as the power of the HR/search committee being displayed in delaying notification without notice, and not calling or writing if the applicant is not chosen.

None of these things should surprise me, given the social experiences of neurotypical privilege, classism/racism, ableism, and the structure of the business world.
It's odd to me, though, that when applying for jobs where part of the requirements are to be able to relate to academics, pursue and publish high-level continued study even though you don't really get paid for it, or to develop good working relationships with people with disabilities/"diverse populations"/people living in poverty, that middle-class white anti-academic neurotypical socialization standards should be used as criteria for job applicants.

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