Friday, February 13, 2015

Next Question in the How Did We of the Silent Generation Survive Without Devices?

9. How did you look for jobs? And then apply to jobs? But seriously. This is a legit question. And when you did find jobs, how did you apply? Did you manually write cover letters? And resumes? THE HORROR.

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Answer:  Yes. Everything was manual from writing the cover letter, to writing our resumes without the advantage of tutors or online tips or courses to teach us how to write them properly. Some of us learned the basics in tenth grade English, but that was long before most of us really had to apply for jobs.

When we were in college, there were no job fairs that I recall that would have given us opportunities to apply on the spot. There may have been head hunters in those days, but most of us didn’t use them. Some businesses conducted interviews on campus, so people got jobs that way. For potential teachers like me, we had to apply to each school district individually contacting them to get the appropriate contact person, address, phone number, etc. Then we waited to get an interview, went to the interview and waited until we got our invitation or rejection.

I was very fortunate in the 60s when teaching jobs were plentiful. I was in France studying when three offers came through. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I arranged the interviews by mail and interviewed in person when I returned home. My first teaching job was at the whopping big salary of $5300 per year in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, then the best district in the Detroit area. I was thrilled. I stayed there five years and left after delivering my first baby. (BTW, my husband and I were considered “very comfortable” making a total of $11,000 between us.)
Job opportunities, depending on the field, always ebb and flow. In the 70s, I remember my husband’s salary was “frozen” for a time, and teachers looking for jobs in the 70s got frustrated and went into other fields. 

When I decided to go back to full-time teaching in the 80s, I was able to find a part-time teaching position. We still filled out forms manually and interviewed as before. The online process started later, and I recall being so relieved that I didn’t have to deal with that, as I knew nothing about how to maneuver my way around the various sites. 

Before I retired from my high school after 25 years, I remember the last few years being a wreck every time we had to enter our grades online. I was terrified I would make a mistake and some angry parent would sue me, and I would be sent to jail for the rest of my days. One of our teachers would walk us through the process each semester so the anxious among us could survive another card marking. Funny when I think back now. I do recall a teacher giving a student an A- instead of an A, and the parents sued her. She went to court and won, so my anxieties were well-founded. 

I remember a dear friend of mine, our librarian, called Media Center Director or something like that, giving us a tutorial on the “dot. com.”
I thought, “What language is she speaking? I hope I don’t ever have to worry about any of this.”

Now I spend hours researching topics for speeches I give and articles I write. I do this all with a click of a finger, and I love it.  I wonder how on earth there will still be libraries five years from now. 

Yes, Virginia, we used encyclopedias, dictionaries, hard-cover books and personal interviewing techniques to get our information. We had to be able to read, write, spell and articulate our thoughts quickly. The process was tedious, but we survived.