Sharla and I became friends after working several months together, and we talked once in a while after I left.
“What?” Her tone of voice piqued my curiosity; although I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to find out. I braced myself for the suspense.
“Judy, one of the new hires, is the sister of the other team lead – Pam.”
The forgotten rage flooded back with a vengeance. So many questions were suddenly answered.
QHF was one of the major energy companies in this state. The interview for the contract job had gone well with two supervisors, and I didn’t mind the long commute too much. It was a nice change to trade driving with reading on the train.
However, the job itself left much to be desired. Of each and every step in the project management process, an approval was required. Project assistants spent most of their days sending out, chasing after, and archiving these approvals. Whoever designed this process must have lived in the 19th century and stayed there. I watched with dread each time I glanced at their enormous spreadsheet used just to keep track of the status of all the approvals.
Thank heavens I didn’t have to do that. The manager whose work I was supporting decided not to manage her program, which was entirely different from other projects, with this cumbersome process. I did have to spend a lot of time converting spreadsheet data into a project plan in the beginning, and run intricate reports weekly, but I would do anything not to chase the approval papers daily.
The same manager also fought with two other groups to have me on her projects full-time. I was working on her projects on a part-time basis, and she was quite happy with my work. She looked intimidating, and most people shied away from working with her. I was able to look past her serious exterior and got along with her amicably -- much to my co-workers’ amazement.
I had dealt with HR department of both large and small companies long enough to ignore the first two emails encouraging us to apply for the new position. Besides, some contract jobs I had lasted longer than some of my “real" jobs, and I had become accustomed to certain degree of freedom that came with contract josb. The second email was forwarded by my reporting supervisor with blind copies to anonymous recipients.
One morning my reporting supervisor came to my desk asking me to apply. I thought about it for a long time, then decided not to let her feel snubbed. It was a public company. Surely they would follow the laws, right?
I went through two rounds of interview. They went well. One day a man from HR called and asked for my pay rate. He indicated that he was working on an offer for me and needed that information. I was excited and started to plan my near future in the following few weeks. The job wasn’t ideal, but it provided a starting point, not to mention some sense of security that would be nice to have.
Instead of an offer letter, I received a “Thanks but no thanks” email from HR two weeks later. They had decided on a “more qualified candidate.” I saw the subsequent announcement email with the new hires’ qualifications listed. Four out of five new hires didn't have either the degree or the related work experiences required. At least two out of five didn’t have better qualifications than I did - Judy was one of them. The HR was working on my offer when they called. What happened between then and now?
I had no ways or means to fight with a team of corporate lawyers, who were paid for the sole purpose of defending the company’s interests. I talked to the sympathetic but powerless manager who I worked with, and did the only thing I could -- I left and never went back. I felt bad for leaving, but not as bad as the indication that I was unfit for the job, regardless how well it was working out for all parties involved, so they had to hire those less qualified people to fill the positions.
After I left, I was told the contractor who replaced me was so underqualified that her co-worker refused to train her. The comment I heard was "I don't have all day to train her on the basic skills she should have." She got the job because her half-sister worked there. That was not as bad, though, as the news I just heard from Sharla now.
I wonder what kind of connections the other four had.
For a few weeks I had really thought an enormous company with state-wide offices and employees would follow the laws and practice fair hiring. I was so pathetically wrong.
Next time I see the fine print on a company’s job site that says “We Are an Equal Opportunity Employer” I will be laughing so hard that my sides will split open. I will probably need medical attention, but it will be completely worth it.