Posted by: madamm | October 9, 2007

How do you spend most of your time?

My friend the J-Meister used to think I coined the phrase “How do you spend most of your time?” at social events, when in fact, I read it in a book quite simply called: How to Talk to People.

I didn’t really get anything from that book, except that one question, which has become so routine I own it. The answers to the question are of course legion and often misunderstood because I’m almost sure “smoking weed” and ” chillin”don’t qualify as categories of employment. Yes, the open-ended question “How do you spend most of your time?” is in fact considered the polite way to ask someone what they do for a living. The exact phrasing stemming from political correctness in light of South Africa’s relatively high unemployment rate. In common parlance, you can avoid the awkwardness of asking an unemployed person about their “job” with the ambiguity of the question.

I can’t recall ever being asked the question myself, which alludes to another category in the book, How to Talk to People, about the incredibly self-absorbedness of every single entity you will ever encounter. But that’s a whole different post altogether.

No. Today I want to talk a little about the fear I have. Of being told that I’m not suitably qualified for a position. As you may or may not know, I’m immigrating to the USA soon, so I’ve decided to apply for a position here and there. I got an e-mail from a real estate company in Raleigh North- Carolina today who regretted to share with me that they feel I am not suitably qualified for some or other position and granted, I’ve been setting my sights a little high (it was a senior level position). But the disappointment and feelings of indignation is unavoidable. As in, how fucking dare you tell me I’m not qualified?!

But then you quietly carry on with your search and try to forget about it. Today’s e-mail was only the second time in my entire life that I was not “suitably qualified”for something. The other time was while studying at the University of North Carolina when I applied for a salesperson position in the campus bookstore. Yes, I got told I’m not suitably qualified. And it hurt.

I think, however that it is in fact quite normal to have a few doors slammed in your face.Though I once got told my an employer at an ice-cream parlour that I look like the kind of person who will always get a job based on sheer ambition, I should never feel too comfortable or complacent with my abilities and skills. Even though I am suitably qualified for many things (including the wonderful and well-paying job I have right now), I suppose I must learn that things are not supposed to fall into your lap.

The move away from home just got scarier.



  1. There is sometimes no worse feeling than getting rejection for a job, believe me I’ve been there plenty in this industry. But you have to just let it go and remember that it isn’t an insult towards you personally but more just that they needed someone more specific and that they’re the ones losing out on you 😉

    The perfect job will come along and you’ll be glad that you didn’t get any of the other “lesser” jobs. I promise!

  2. I feel better, thanks Miss M. It’s fucking hard to accept though. Damn hard. But then again, who am I to NOT get rejected from time to time?!

  3. Rejection is a way of life. But those people have never met you and never worked with you so they have no idea! Always remember that 🙂

    I used to cry every single time I didn’t get a job as I tend to never fail at something but it is just a situation which is completely out of your hands. Damn bastards of fate

  4. If I had to tell you how I go about getting a job you would laugh your @ss off…

    Don’t take it too personally, people always underestimate the importance of attitude when they look for a new employee – on paper anyway. Start panicking if you don’t get a job based on a bad interview.

    Good luck! 😀

  5. It’s an interesting thing … people get equally upset about being told they’re under qualified for a job as they do getting told they’re over qualified. I mean you’d think that would be some sort of compliment but, it still causes one to go thru all the same feelings of rejection, as illustrated by my friend Lopz.

    It seems you never can win. Just keep your fingers crossed and I’m sure something will come your way. My job catch-phrase has always been: “Sure, I’ll give it a bash”. What more can one really offer that the will to try?

  6. No Louisa, really I’d like to hear!
    Phillygirl: I read Lopz’s post. You can’t win, now that I think about it (my very ambitious side telling me I’m probably overqualified for the job I applied for in the first place).
    I just WISH I knew more about the American qualifications and standards, etc. Like, are two bachelor degrees and one (almost completed) masters and two years of experience considered employable? Or am I still entry-level?

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