Money And Benefits? Eww.

I’ve put up a bunch of posts the past week, but haven’t really talked about anything.

I could say I was busy playing with the various post formats, and sharing photos of volcanoes and British socialites, and recounting anecdotes about alcoholic beverages. All those things are true, but I also think I’ve been studiously avoiding reality. Because I learned early in the week I did not get the awesome job I interviewed for. Which, quite frankly, sucks.

Because I tend to overanalyze things worse than a neurotic Woody Allen character, I’ve figured out why I didn’t get the job. It’s not because I flubbed a question or lacked experience or had a coffee stain on my shirt. It’s because I broke a cardinal rule and decided I wanted the job midway through the interview.

There’s a secret to landing a job, you see. Sure, you should arrive on time armed with facts about the company, smile, maintain eye contact and execute a firm handshake. But I’m convinced the most important thing you can do is walk in there and not give a damn whether or not you get the job. Better still, work up half a dozen reasons why you flat out don’t want it. Maybe the commute is awful, or the pay is less than you’re aiming for. Perhaps the company is involved in a questionable endeavor, like manufacturing silencers for firearms or employing child laborers. Or maybe your ex-spouse works there. The more negatives you can come up with, the better, because when you walk through the front door all the pressure is gone and you can simply relax and be yourself. I would love to pull a stunt like Ray Romano’s character did on the season finale of The Office last week and grab a sandwich out of my briefcase mid-interview, but that takes huge cojones (and is a bit extreme – I’d settle for being quietly blase over the whole affair). Interviewers are like wild animals: they can smell fear, and when they do, their instinct is to pounce. On the other hand, a confident candidate will earn their respect (and quite possibly the job).

Magnifying glass
If you don't want the job in the first place, you'll never sweat the interview. (Courtesy of

I knew this going in. Moments before leaving my car, I was on the phone with a friend, and she reminded me of this golden rule. “Remember, you don’t want the job!” she said discouragingly.

“Right,” I replied. “Who needs money and benefits? Eww. And I’d have to do some writing. Gag me with a spoon.”

OK, I didn’t really say those things. Mainly because A) This isn’t 1982, and B) I’m not a valley girl. But also because, you have to find some real reasons why you don’t want the job. In this case, the position required some public speaking. Not my strong suit. I didn’t know how much public speaking, of course, but I told myself I’d be giving speeches to auditoriums filled with 300 people twice a week. This mental argument was working really well for me, until I walked into the lobby and saw how awesome and modern and arty the office was. Nary a cubicle to be found. Damn. I was then greeted by a friendly (damn again) and cute (grr) receptionist who politely asked me to take a seat. While waiting, I thumbed through a beautiful coffee table book chock full of stunning photographs from around the Pacific Northwest. I hadn’t even met my potential boss yet, and I was already veering dangerously close to wanting the job. Clearly a course correction was needed, and fast. I imagined that she’d be a power-hungry cutthroat CEO type driven by greed and manipulation – sort of a cross between Donald Trump and Sue Sylvester from Glee – but as luck wouldn’t have it, she was cordial, nice, and smiled a lot. Still, I held the public speaking card in my back pocket, and quickly pulled it out. I asked her what that would entail exactly, and she said, “Oh, once or twice a year you’d meet with the board of directors for five minutes and discuss our marketing initiative.” That I could do. And that was the moment where everything unraveled, because suddenly I wanted the job, and the nerves kicked in while I tried to make the best impression possible. Don’t get me wrong, the interview went well, and I’m positive I was a finalist – but ultimately, maybe the lack of that devil-may-care attitude did me in.

So when the news came in the form of an e-mail delivered to my In Box bright and early Tuesday morning, I was pretty upset. Rarely do you find a job that you think sounds both intellectually stimulating and fun, and relies on your strengths and skills, and pays the salary you want, and is an easy commute from home. Naturally, this one had all of the above.

Fortunately, I had my parents to encourage me and cheer me up.

“No offense, but we don’t want you living under our roof again,” my mom said, nineteen years, seven months and some odd days since I left home for good.

“I think I’m more upset than you are,” my dad said, and then threw in for good measure, “If this keeps up you’re just going to have to take anything you can get.”

Gee, thanks, guys. So I turned to the couch for solace, and an afternoon of mind-numbing television followed by wine. That combination did the trick, and by the end of the day I was feeling better.

So, yeah. This sucks. The freelance writing assignments have mysteriously dried up, and my initial unemployment claim has just run out. I had to apply for an emergency extension which, hopefully, won’t take long to process (and approve) because they won’t send me any money before it’s OK’d, and I’ve got bills to pay. I’m really, really hoping something good comes along soon.

Err…I mean…not hoping.

What was I thinking there?!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

26 thoughts on “Money And Benefits? Eww.

  1. I believe the same rule applies to dating. God help me if mid-way through a date I start to think “I think there’s a chance I could, potentially, actually LIKE this person.” That moment is the exact moment DOOM sets in.

    When everything else starts looking good on a potential job, you have to reset your thinking bgy considering all the stuff you never know until you’re IN the job. Like, the parking is terrible (you come for the interview; they put you in a guest space… you take the job; it turns out you’re better off walking from home). Their vacation policy is great on paper but in reality you have to work 24/7/365 and never have time to see your kids. You’ll need a doctor’s note to go to their weddings. The cafeteria will start to feel like a punishment after a week. The coffee is probably crap. And either your colleagues will be horrible, or they’ll be lovely but soon enough the job will make you (and them) long for unemployment again.

    Of course you hope none of that proves to be true, but it’s better to think it and get the job, and be (hopefully) pleasantly surprised.

    Seriously… sorry you didn’t get the gig.


    1. Yes, yes…you’re good at looking at these things similarly. And I agree that the same can be said for dating. I had a date from hell once, and as bad as it was, I was totally relaxed because I knew the minute I met her I wasn’t the least bit attracted.


  2. I want to say don’t feel bad but that is stupidly insulting but I can say you are not alone. My best fried R is 52. He can do anything with a computer that can be done as well as work all the stuff in the sky.He knows jet engines from mechanics, to assembly line to production management. He knows cars, guns, airplane mechanics, radio and the list goes on. There is nothing here in Miami and although they put unemployment as 18% I would say it is closer to 30% and the only way to get a job is to know somebody and that is locked in to what ethnicity to which you belong.
    He did not work for several years so he can’t get unemployment because you have to have a job to lose in the first place. You can’t even get a dishwasher job here. He lives with his girlfriend who is working or he would be on the street. He picks up $50 here or a $150 there for a computer repair or a system modernization upgrade for businesses . Too infrequent, however. The only thing in the paper is for telemarketing and if there is something in the trades the salary is only 40% of its worth, take it or leave it. You can’t take anything you can get if there is nothing to get. I don’t think there is anything wrong with letting them know you want the job. I would think I would prefer to hire someone who wants to work for me than someone that needs to work and get a job.


    1. “You can’t take anything you can get if there is nothing to get.” That’s my biggest fear, right there!

      And I agree about letting them know you want the job. That was the last thing I told my interviewer before leaving. Unfortunately, I had already told myself the same thing…hence, this whole post.


  3. Yup, I too (like Woody Allen) tend to overanalyze things when they don’t go as I thought they would.

    But I gotta tell ya, anytime I wanted a role REALLY, REALLY bad in the theater; thinking I was perfect for it, yet didn’t end up getting it, I saw (later on after watching the play) that I really wasn’t meant to get it because the director was going for something TOTALLY different than how I saw the character. So, in the long run there would have been major conflicts.

    I know that may not make you feel any better right now, but trust me…everything happens for a reason.

    And I have to ditto what carldagostino shared….

    “I don’t think there is anything wrong with letting them know you want the job. I would think I would prefer to hire someone who wants to work for me than someone that needs to work and get a job.”

    You’re a gifted and talented writer, Mark. And I have great faith that the right job will come to you. So, keep the faith buddy (even though that might be challenging right now), because it WILL happen!


    1. That’s an excellent way of looking at it, Ron. I didn’t get the “part” because the “role” wasn’t right for me. Damn straight! Maybe I was meant to land in another production somewhere else, off-off-Broadway.

      Thanks for the words of encouragement!


  4. Hey Mark…sorry to hear about the bad news. I have to agree with the others. There is a reason for everything and although you may not know what the reason is yet, you will and you will get a job you really like because that is what you deserve! Like Ron says, “you are a talented and gifted writer.”

    Hang tough buddy…and I know it’s hard but you just have to! Things always seem to work out…always!


  5. You are a proactive individual who is talented and clever. The right write thing will come along. I am sorry this position didn’t come through for you, I know you would’ve enjoyed it. But Portland is a happenin’ town, and something will come up. My suggestion, don’t go to your parents for cheering up. It WILL get better.


    1. Portland IS a happenin’ town. While I’m trying my best to avoid working downtown (because of the need for mass transit or expensive parking costs), I have to admit the 10 months that I did work in the heart of the city were pretty cool. It was great walking around on my lunch hour…I wouldn’t mind being able to do something like that again.


  6. “You’ll get ’em next time.”
    “It’s probably for the best.”
    “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
    “If they didn’t see how great you are, then you don’t want them anyway.”

    Yeah, well screw all that. Rejection sucks.

    Hang in there.


  7. Oh, Mark–
    look at you keeping a stiff upper lip…but I can feel and hear your disappointment. And that’s to be expected…

    we should have hope…it’s what sustains us and keeps us from the cesspool of cynicism and depression…

    Sometimes EVERYTHING needs to be stripped away so that whatever, or WHOever needs your attention…gets it.

    I continue to pray for peace for you during this process…It’s the pits…

    I wish there was something more I could do.

    be well, friend.


  8. You could bake me one of your delicious pies, Jane!

    Other than that, I’ll settle for your prayers and best wishes. Thank you much. I do have hope, and I’m a pretty optimistic person, but you’re right – I really wanted this job. Oh, well.


  9. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t get the job. That really sucks, especially when you find yourself wanting it. I dated a guy last summer that I had minimal interest in. So he showed me all the attention in the world. Just until I started liking him. Then I didn’t exist. So I totally know what you mean… it’s dangerous to actually get personally involved and excited about something. However, you are so talented that I know you will find something else. It may take a while, but trust me! 🙂


    1. I’ve read the same thing about handwritten thank-you notes. I thought about sending one after this interview, but I knew the turnaround time was going to be really fast. Still, I should have…that could have given me a slight edge, and wouldn’t have *hurt* anything.


  10. Boooo. Hate this for you. I think you need to start wearing purple to the interviews. Head to toe, every shade from lilac to violet. I’d hire you in a heartbeat.


  11. Been there, done that. Last summer I interviewed for a job that everyone who knew me who read the description agreed sounded like it was made for me — the feeling was universal — except, apparently, with those doing the hiring. My only consolation was that my every interaction with the HR person had produced at least one bizarre and/or unprofessional thing on her part, which does sort of make one feel maybe is well out of it, no matter how much one needed/wanted it. Of course, that was a year ago, there’s not much freelance on the horizon, and the situation is now pretty desperate, but I’m still looking.


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