Full Time Jobs Suck: Tell the Truth and Blow Your Interview

Even though I know that full time jobs suck, I used to go to interviews and lie.

I usually got the jobs.  I would figure out what they wanted to hear and say that that’s what I am. “We need a screwdriver?” they would say.  “Oh, yeah, well I’m a screwdriver,” I’d exclaim. “It’s my passion in life to drive screws all day long. I can drive screws for hours. I read books about driving screws. I drive miles and miles just to drive screws. Let me drive your screws for you. It’s what I live for.” You sit there with a pleasant smile plastered on your face, make warm (but not too warm) eye contact, agree that all the limitations they are offering you are really things you want in your life. “No benefits, you say? Well that’s perfect for me because I’ve been feeling a little too appreciated lately.” I was so convincing that I didn’t even realize I was lying until they said I was hired. Then I didn’t feel so good about driving screws.

This week I went in for a few job interviews even though I know very well that, for me, full-time jobs suck. This time I told the truth. 

Maybe you’re like me. You like to improvise. I like to do a little of this and a little of that. Not too much of any one thing. It’s the lifestyle that I’ve learned to live while writing A Day On. I look at most things that some would say need professional attention and figure I can do it at least as well and maybe better myself. I enjoy fixing my own stuff. Tinkering. I would rather do it all day long than go sit in a cube all day long and try to squeeze a little of this into my free time. It’s how I got into my line of work which is, I discovered this week, more than a little hard to explain and quantify.  After you’ve lived a day on for a while you can’t really go back. You can’t really lie in job interviews if they’re for jobs your not excited about.

When I tell you I’m a handyman I don’t mean I’m not formally trained or experienced. I’ve learned my skills through real education and experience, but I no longer want to be a part of the corporate army; I want to apply my abilities to projects I choose.  And I’m very fortunate and grateful for my individual clients who let me work on their projects but who don’t demand I do it in a cubicle.

So, I went to a couple of interviews this week just to see what was up, and this time I didn’t lie – I couldn’t lie. I told them that I was a kind of general practitioner because I am. I want to get to know my clients’ whole business. I want to be in on considering all the things they are doing with their brand in print and on the web. My aptitudes lie somewhere between marketing and information technology but I need to be able to move around a lot. I do this thing where I build websites and do SEO and copywriting and some graphics, a little bit of online advertising and some social media stuff. But sometimes I drive down the street and see little things starting to grow out of peoples’ neglected gutters and I’m tempted to come back with a ladder. That’s what I do with the companies I work for. I look for what they need and I look to see what’s in my toolbox.

Bricoleur's DaughterOne of my favorite paintings is called The Bricoleur’s Daughter. It just caught my eye at the St. Louis Art museum one day when I played hooky from my full-time job.

A bricoleur is a word that would roughly translate to “handyman” in English,  though the term in French implies more.  He is a man who mostly uses available materials and transforms them through original application that he thinks up. It’s kind of a handyman who uses his mind to improvise with his tools to alter his world.  It implies a very “outside-the-box” way of thinking about your tools and your abilities and what tasks you will tackle. The Bricoleur is a kind of conjurer.  Somehow there is faith involved, and vision and imagination.

I like the idea of approaching the world as a bricoleur. I don’t want to overly-specialize to be confined in my practice.  I don’t want to drive screws all day. I want to build it and let them come. Yesterday a friend, who is an accounting and finance professor, was telling me that he tells his students that their creativity is what they have that is of value. Forms, he told them, can be outsourced and filled in by people in India. Your creativity in finding advantages are what will give you added value for your customers.

For me, A Day On is kind of like the “multiple intelligences” approach of education applied to your job. When you discover that you have a wide variety of skills and the need to move among them and to improvise, you will likely discover that you don’t want to go back to playing one note all day long. I really didn’t want the full-time jobs I was interviewing for and maybe that’s what made it easier to be honest.

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