In my current job search, I’ve filled out quite a few online job applications recently, and the flow is usually rather predictable:
- Personal Information and Contact Data
- Previous Employment History
- Education History
- Upload Resume & Cover Letter
- Optional EEOC questions (gender, race, vet status)
- Check the box saying you’re being honest and click Submit.
- Receive auto-generated confirmation email
- Wait for somebody to contact you, knowing your sole point of contact with the company is firstname.lastname@example.org
Sure, every so often they mix it up. Maybe they’ll ask something like “What did you like best about your last job?” or “What was your least favorite task?” Some companies want to know the name of your supervisor in 2005 or the job duties of the entry-level position you took out of college so the student loan folks wouldn’t repossess your Blind Melon CD. But this morning, I came across one that was brand new.
“Write an original 40-60 word poem about your current or most recent job into the text field below:”
Now, I can see where this would be an excellent and important exercise if I was applying to Hallmark or wanting to work as a creative in a traditionally creative field. Which is why this question really threw me: it appeared on an application to be a “Technical Analyst – OEM Services”. Therefore, I am officially caught off guard.
What do I do now? I would guess that since graduating from college almost 15 years ago, the number of poems I have written would fit on one hand. It would likely fit on one finger. Heck, even my collegiate attempts at poetry were rather sad (and “highlighted” by my poetic tribute to Jim Beam & Coca-Cola). Let’s face it – the majority of my writing abilities live on the Prose side of the street.
I ponder the blank screen, and consider my options:
a) Make it rhyme. Poems are supposed to rhyme.
b) Riff on the “Roses are red” template.
c) Free verse
d) A parody of Cat in the Hat (thanks to my 2 year old, I have it pretty much memorized)
e) See if McDonald’s is hiring and lacks a poetry component
This is followed by a wave of secondary questions: Do I try to be funny? I wonder if they can tell how long I’m sitting here with this blank screen? Do I criticize my former employer? Will this page eventually time out? Will I not get an interview because my sonnet lacks proper meter?
What did I do? I’m not afraid to say that I chickened out and went with c) Free verse. In other words, I typed up a good, P.C. interview response, broke it up into multiple lines, broke some capitalization and punctuation rules, and continued on to the EEOC questionnaire (Male, Caucasian, Not a Veteran).
I would reprint the poem here (I keep a file with my stock answers to common application questions that I can copy & paste for speed and accuracy), but since I intend for this site to be a virtual commercial for my writing abilities, it’s best if that one stays offline. If you need me to write mushy greeting card poems, I’ll give it the old college try*, but there are some jobs best left to the professionals.
*Wow the Internet is awesome. I thought for sure I’d have to type that reference out instead of dropping a link to a cartoon from 1995.
Since we’re all hear, let’s take a shot at options A, B, and D above.
Rhyming Poem About My Last Job
My last job, it was a hoot
Fortunately, I didn’t have to wear a suit
It took seven months and a dozen interviews
Before I got the phone call with the news
The office was at 56th & O
Home for lunch, I could go
My bike, to work I would ride
I always wore my helmet, screw my pride
I was mad when they took away my salary
But the OT bought my plasma TV
At some point we ran out of space
So we moved to a new place
Downtown was our new home
There was a guy who played the xylophone
I had an office, I was all atwitter
Until I found out it was by the bathroom
I won’t be critical, it wouldn’t be cool
I did like working with many a school
At last, my time it had to end
I just wish my income didn’t have to suspend
“Roses Are Red” Style Poem About My Last Job
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Private and faith-based K-12 schools,
Catholics, Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
“Cat in the Hat” Parody Poem About My Last Job
Hmm..glad I didn’t go this route, this one is tougher than I thought. All I’m coming up with is:
Sometimes it seems like
My career is shot.
My wife said, “Do I like this?”
“Oh no, I do not!”
In conclusion, you ever find yourself faced with a request for spontaneous poetry in order to acquire a job, your best bet is to go with a traditional rhyme as what I tossed together above is far better than the free verse B.S. I submitted this morning.
Live and learn.
*EDIT – Sept 2013: If you arrived on this page via Google search, take a moment and read this.