Out of the box

As an attempt to try to master how to fit in recruitment situations, since I wasn’t very successful at finding a job that corresponds to my curriculum, I thought that I might have been lacking skills in this particular field - job hunting - so I enrolled in two different job search programs this year.

The first program was provided by Le Pont, a non-profit center for women in Trois-Rivières. They gave me a ‘diploma’ at the end of the 2-month training, although I found no job.

Everyone from there had no clue what open government is about. They had never heard of it before.

Furthermore, these women told me they had never seen a resume like mine. They said that I am a special case, a sort of strange phenomenon. Out of the box. These women did not know what to do with me.

I had to do a recruitment simulation, as part of this program. They set me up with the ex woman director of their center. They called someone of a high caliber to interview me.

She probably did not understand what is the open government philosophy, but she told me that I can convince. She said that I have these skills. I felt relieved by this comment, because I do not talk much in real life. Besides my strong presence in social media, I can go days without opening my mouth, and it’s fine with me: I like just Being. I can spend hours with someone without saying a word, just observing this person, listening to her talk and enjoying her presence. This is not really the kind of individual found in the sphere in which I would like to be successful. So I had very serious doubts about me.

This recruitment experience and job training center did not help me to get a job, but it gave me wings.

Two weeks after completing the training, I spent my savings to go to Edmonton, Alberta, and meet with open government advocate, Adriel Hampton, and several other advocates and government officials.

And shortly after that, I met John F Moore, CEO of Government in the Lab. I ended up doing a lot of volunteer work for TheLab, because we couldn’t find the money to pay for my work.

I was getting increasingly nervous, I thought that I did everything the wrong way, because I could not come to reach any financial success in my numerous business development efforts.

To make a long story short, in September 2011, I decided to enroll in a second training program. There must have been something that I had not learned well yet. So I went back to school.

This program was different from the first. It was more condensed, and it was open to both men and women. We had to follow a strict procedure. There was a strict scenario for everything, and they made sure we were respecting it. When I made a phone call - I tried my luck with municipalities in my area - I was transferred directly to the mayor of the city. The proposed scenario was not designed for self-employed or consultant workers. It was for employees, such as secretaries, salesmen, mechanics, etc.

Furthermore, mayors did not know about the open government philosophy, and they did not know that the provincial government was studying and analyzing possibilities of open government policies. I ended up having to do free public relations for the government, before getting the chance to introduce myself.  I failed respecting the scenario code. I was unable to convert my story into their given script.

Participants of this program had to do a filmed interview (simulation of a recruitment). I was asked to make a simulation as if I applied to a Communications Officer position. Something I did at the beginning of my career.  Sweeping away my professional experience of the past 20 years. All the questions revolved around ‘how do you get into the mold’. I was not able to answer. I realized that all my life, I was out of the mold. After failling at this recruitment simulation, I am a little ashamed to admit it here, but I was promptly fired from the training program. They said that they have only one approach, and that I do not fit.

I applied to another program, for self-employed workers in a precarious financial situation. My application was rejected for the following reason: “I am too good and authorities do not know how to handle me.” They changed their answer, three months later, after I tried to convince several members of the National Assembly, to “the project does not fit business criteria”.

In my previous attempts to find a job in the pandemic preparedness field, I was told (from a government stand point), in recruitment processes that “only the government is allow to think about these things”, and that “only the ideas proposed by the people on their committees are retained”. The last word was that these things were immature and not credible. A consultant firm, located outside the country, hired me as a pandemic analyst, and ended my term for lack of contracts, a similar situation that repeated itself with Government in the Lab (although this time, there was no money to hire me).

I would like to be able to stop being out of the box. But it’s too difficult. It seems impossible. After my 2 job training fails, I was so discouraged with myself that I saw a social therapist. She explained me about spiral development, and told me there was nothing wrong with my brain, nor my choices. I followed this path for a reason, that goes back to the day I left Architecture school at McGill University. She showed me that I did this for a good reason. She recommended me not to accept any job, just for the money. She said that it would be a bad idea to let go of my open government dreams. She suggested to go back to school a couple of years, do a masters or phd, the time that the situation at the government evolves. Uh. More school hey. I have exhausted a large chunk of my savings. Unfortunately, I cannot afford this option.

what about other strategies to find work?

Hey Lyne!

First of all thank you very much for being so honest about your experience. it’s courageous of you to share it with us since you obviously tell the story in a very intimate way.

It seems dramatic, but I’d like to think it is not necessarily so. I don’t know anything about these job search programs, but i find it weird that those people acted out on you the way they did, given that you were there to learn things. Even so, you did discover skills you have,… and as far as I understand you are not a weird case, you may just be overqualified for the types of jobs advertised - both in simulation and in real life.

also, just to put the dot on the i, would you say that generally selection processes were unfair in their final calls (apart from being unfair to you personally) ?

also, what if you didn’t  try your way in through the system and be less vocal about what your ideal is?  you could look for other jobs which require your skills and do your opengov thing out of passion only? or is it a general problem to find a job, any job?? (in which case my quasi-advice is not so useful)


PS there is one selection process you survived beautifully and it’s here :slight_smile:

Compartments for everything, excessive regimentation

The city where I live is nicknamed the ‘Quebecker capital of unemployment’.

The problem of Trois-Rivières and the Mauricie region in general, is that this region has long been dependent on large pulp and paper companies. On the other hand, global markets and mergers of paper companies, without qualms, international leaders of the new merged companies often choose to put the key in the door or to reduce their production. In 1992, Trois-Rivières has experienced the tragedy of the closing of the CIP paper company and this resulted in the loss of 1200 jobs. The fate of the factory Wayagamack and its 600 workers still arouses anxiety. And paper Tripap owned by Uniforêt, announced that it closed its doors in late July, laying off hundreds of employees.

There are about only 6 to 10 public relations and communication businesses in Trois-Rivières.

The job search program was asking me to offer my services as a communication agent, at minimum wages, because there is nothing else in this region. Write press releases announcing the opening of a new restaurant, or renovations done at McDonald's. This sums up more or less the kind of work I could do here.

Another option, the job search center wanted me to do, was to become CEO of a distribution tool parts company. It was a bit too far from everything I’ve done so far. I found myself hardly able to get excited about bolts, screws and nuts.

I applied to fundraising jobs. But was not selected.

I applied to writing jobs - gather infos for a guide, this sort of tasks, but was not selected.

Not knowing what to do with myself, I thought I'd go pick straberries in the fields. It would certainly be less frustrating to pick fruits and not use any of my abilities, in a something totally unrelated, than be in a situation where I would use only a very small percentage of myself.

I cannot speak very much about the general selection processes, because I never get selected. Many participants in the group that I attended found jobs. It was very low-level jobs, minimum wages, that require almost no experience.

It would be difficult to hide my ideals. One only has to type ‘Lyne Robichaud’ on Google and it is there. I tried to play the card of super-visibility, as a strategy to position myself in a niche. But this is playing against me, in a society of silence. I noticed that other strong opinion leaders advocating for transparency have been fired over the last three months.

The job search center tried to make me get a job for which I am obviously overqualified. I did not pass the test of fit the mold’. But let’s suppose I had succeeded. What would have happened next? Would employers have hired me, looking at my resume? I think not. Sooner or later, the result would have been the same. The program defined by the job search center would have failed on me.

Pick straberries in the fields. Or move out of here.

Vanish from the face of this Earth is really also very tempting!

IT WASN’T LIKE THIS BEFORE. I never had to look for a job. People were picking me up. They heard about me in the newspapers (I always have been very ‘vocal’ - hey, this is quite strange when I think about it, since I don’t talk very much…). People were offering me jobs. Or I had an idea, presented it to a business leader, and most of the time, he would say ‘yes’. I alternated between contracting and working as an employee. But there was always something cooking, getting me from a job to another. I was always in a role of agent of change. Always creating something never done before.

Until the day that I was working as Director of Communication for an organization. I was the only employee under the direct responsibility of the General Director. He left in a gust of wind, made a fabulous dolphin jump to a position in a prestigious government job, guaranteeing him a comfortable retirement. I lost my job due to his swiff departure. Then, I had three miscarriages in a row. In their late thirties, fertility declines in women. It is a well known fact, and I found out the painful way that it is true. I had to stop working for a while, in order to take care of my health (i.e. remove all sources of stress) and be able to successfully carry a child in my womb.

Then, I took care of my child. MALE employers do not understand that this is a REAL occupation. I actually was asked bluntly, with a really condescending air: ‘And you, what have you done in recent years?I raised my child is not an acceptable answer.

Motherhood, divorce, being a single mother, self-healing a wound of humiliation, triggering a latent empowering force, taking care of my dying father from a terminal cancer: all this changed me. And this change would necessarily result in a change of career. While I managed it before, I just cannot pull it out anymore. IT DOES NOT WORK! I am worried, because I am getting older. Soon, I will be seen as an old has-been?

Where I stand now, I cannot afford to start at the bottom of the ladder.

The most relevant thoughts I heard lately came from my social worker. She told me that society has dramatically changed. 20 years ago, people with atypical paths had no problem finding jobs of any kind. Now, she said that society has become excessively regimented. There are compartments for everything. We need a special training for each line of employment. Only one type of profilex’ can be consistent with the job ‘x’.

She also told me that decent people did worse in life than crocked ones. Oh my!

She said that while some people had steady jobs with big salaries and mansions, we would not exchange our life with them. We would not envy them and would not like to be in their shoes.