This question is from Anonymous in San Francisco:
I have a question for you. Why are employers complaining that they can't find qualified workers when they receive hundreds of resumes every time they post a job, and why are single men in San Francisco complaining that they can't find a suitable girlfriend when there are far more straight women than straight men? Also, landlords complain that they can't find good tenants when there are plenty of them. What's up with that?
Here's my response:
The reason why single men in San Francisco can't find a suitable girlfriend is because they like monogamy and marriage so much that they're searching for the right bride, and they think that the best way to find her is by having sex with every female for a ten mile radius. That takes several years and so in the meantime, while they're tasting the honey from every pot, they whine to their friends that they can't find her.
The reason why landlords look for tenants who can afford to buy a mansion in Pacific Heights to rent their dilapidated apartments in the ghetto is because they plan to store their original Picasso and Renoir paintings there. Everyone knows that it's crucial to find tenants who appreciate fine art. And they have to be rich so that they won't be tempted to steal the paintings: Everyone knows that rich people don't steal.
Sometimes employers have a legitimate reason for needing to find "a needle in a haystack." For example, their department might run on a very rare software program and they won't be able to train a new hire to use it because they had only one employee who knew how and she's gone. She heard about one of the landlords who stores his Picasso and Renoir paintings at his tenant's apartment and so she stole them, and now she has so much money that she can afford to hire a professional matchmaker so that she can marry one of the guys that I mentioned earlier, because they're such a great catch.
Seriously, the real problem that all of these people have is that they have unspoken expectations that go above and beyond the scope of "a girlfriend", "a good tenant", or "a qualified worker." Applicants are not mind readers and so they're bound to miss the mark. For example, a woman may tailor her resume to send the message that she's a perfect fit for the job, or she may rewrite her profile on Match.com to present herself as a perfect fit for a specific man, but it won't work. The reason why it doesn't work is because the list of criteria that is available to her is only the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg appears to be the size of the Matterhorn at Disneyland but in reality it's Mt. Everest.
Here's an example of my Mt. Everest theory. During the nineties I ran accounts payable systems and a temp agency sent me to a client who requested an A/P clerk. I was a perfect match. However, on my first day the client gave me the general ledger which is a completely different job. I called the recruiter and she confirmed that the position was strictly accounts payable and that she had sent my resume to the client. Bewildered, the recruiter called the client and then she called me back and sent me home. The following week she told me that the client needed a G/L manager but that her agency's placement fee was $10,000 higher for that position, which seemed to indicate that her client requested an A/P clerk in order to save money.
Here's another example of Mt. Everest. In 2008 Disneyland's design department, Imagineering, hired a restaurant design firm in downtown San Francisco. Disney requires architectural hand rendered drawings (illustrations by hand, not CAD perspectives), and so the firm in San Francisco created a position for it and they hired a headhunter. She posted the position on a job board and I applied for it, and after she reviewed my art portfolio she referred me to them. (Here's my portfolio: www.picasaweb.google.com/katiemallory). Her client screamed that I didn't know how to operate their CAD program, which she never requested. After that, she left the hardcopy of my portfolio in her front lobby on the floor between a chair and a side table. I went to her office to pick it up and the receptionist didn't know where it was and so she called her and got her voice mail. I sat down in a chair to wait and I happened to see it poking out from the other side of the side table.
Sometimes people are just blind. For example, when I was 23 I worked at a law firm in downtown San Francisco and once while I was standing in an elevator two men entered and carried on their private conversation behind me. One complained that he can't find a girlfriend and so his friend told him about a really great woman and then he added that she has a six year old daughter. His friend sighed in loud resignation, "It's always something!" In the meantime, I was standing right in front of him and I was adorable too. I was athletic and I was wearing a dark brown mini skirt with matching opaque tights and matching high heels, and he looked right through me.
Some people are emotionally retarded. Back at the law firm (Gold Bennett and Cera on Market and Second) the office manager complained that she couldn't find a qualified filing clerk which is an entry level job. She hired a man who seemed fine to me. They happened to be standing in front of my desk when he told her that in five months he will need to take two days off from work. If he had said that to me than I would have responded, "That's fine" and then I would have handed him a form to request time off. Not Suzanne Powley. She said to him, "Let's see how it goes and if you still work here when the time comes than we'll talk about it then."