job search

How Original is Original?

The blogging platform I use (WordPress) has a number of very cool analytics, including the ability to see the search strings people are typing into Google that leads them to this site.

As I’ve noted before, some of these are rather…um…unique.  But I’ve noticed that there is one search query that shows up quite often:

“Write an original 40-60 word poem about your current or most recent job.”

A little back story:  In 2011, I was applying for different jobs, which meant I was filling out a lot of online applications.  One of those applications requested an original 40-60 word poem.  I found that request odd – especially for a non-creative, technical position – so I did a quick post about it.

Ever since then, that post gets multiple views every single week, and is probably my most searched post.

I find it ironic (and rather sad) that when asked for an original poem, many people turn to Google to (presumably) find something they can copy and paste, otherwise using some custom writing service.

Roses are red Ctrl + C is blue. Writing poems is easy When Ctrl + V is through

Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised.  After all, the internet likely contains millions of term papers, book reports, and job application poems.

To those who would borrow my job poem, please know two things:

1.  If you can find a poem online using Google, your future employer can (and will) to.

2.  Feit Can Write is a freelance writing service, ready and willing to assist with all of your writing needs – including employment poetry.  Contact me – I’ll work cheap.

What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?

As a parent, I often notice a recurring theme in conversations about my kids:  what our children are going to be when they grow up.  You know what I mean:  Jamie likes to role-play her doctor visits, so maybe she’ll be a doctor.  Of course, she’s so expressive and energetic that maybe she’ll be an actress or performer.  Cameron’s birth parents were 6’2″ and 5’10”, so maybe he’ll be a basketball player, but with his long fingers maybe he’ll be a concert or jazz pianist.

And so it goes.  Almost any time they show a new skill, role play something they’ve experienced, or display even a minor interest in something new, we want to map out their college and career plans.

Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with wanting your children to be happy and successful, finding careers that allow them to utilize their skills and passions.  And I’m all for encouraging kids to follow their dreams, even if they are unlikely to grow up to be an firefighting astronaut puppy doctor*.  No sane parent is going to lock their child into a career path before they lose their first tooth.

*I am often reminded by family members that when I was young (4 or 5?) I said I wanted to be a microphone when I grew up.  Not an announcer, actor, singer, DJ, performer, or game show host.  A microphone.  (Familial history is a little cloudy on if I wanted to be a normal microphone or one of the long skinny ones like on Price is Right or Match Game.)  While some may debate if I have grown up, I can assure you that I have let to become a microphone.

But I’m struck by the disparity in the future careers we identify for our kids.  When parents talk about their kids being something then they grow up, they usually talk about well-known jobs:  doctor, lawyer, veterinarian, soldier, cop, firefighter, athlete, artist, musician, etc.  I have yet to meet the parent who thinks their kid is going to be a janitor, cashier at Target, Starbucks barista, assistant to the regional manager, or any one of a thousand jobs that are vital to everyday life, but rank low on the glamour scale.

You said you wanted to be a farmer, right?

Why is that?  Do we look at ourselves – a collection of middle managers, analysts, technicians, laborers, and fillers of unglamorous and unrewarding jobs – and project our unfulfilled career ambitions on our children?  Or is it the simple fact that nobody under the age of 18 has ever aspired to be a project analyst, client services manager, or customer support representative (three job titles I’ve proudly owned, by the way)?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’ll continue to think of my daughter as a future doctor every time she pretends to check my ears, and my son as an NBA all-star every time he out-grows another pair of pants.  And I’ll love them just as much if they end up in the most menial, dead-end job you can imagine – especially if it makes them happy.

But I won’t be disappointed if they aspire to be a microphone.

Odd Job Application Question of the Day

In my current job search, I’ve filled out quite a few online job applications recently, and the flow is usually rather predictable:

  1. Personal Information and Contact Data
  2. Previous Employment History
  3. Education History
  4. Skills/Certifications/Honors/Etc
  5. References
  6. Upload Resume & Cover Letter
  7. Optional EEOC questions (gender, race, vet status)
  8. Check the box saying you’re being honest and click Submit.
  9. Receive auto-generated confirmation email
  10. Wait for somebody to contact you, knowing your sole point of contact with the company is

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.

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