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Initiative applications

March 18, 2012

Actual conversation I’ve had with a bureaucrat at the Federal Employment Agency (“Arbeitsamt”):

AA: I see you have made one initiative application the past month. Have you considered making more?
Me: No, there’s been enough jobs advertised, so I didn’t have to.
AA: Oh, but you should!
Me: But… you asked me to apply for 6-8 jobs, and I applied for 8…
AA: That’s ok, that’s ok. But you still should write more initiative applications. You can find out on Wikipedia which companies are located where you live, if you… (droning on with instructions for how to use Wikipedia)
Me (thinking): Oh shit, they’re going to demand that I apply for twenty jobs next month!
AA: So, do you have any questions? No? Well then, I’ll just update the time period on our contract. And you apply for 6-8 jobs next month too, ok?

Projected conversation I’ve imagined I’ll might have, next time I have to go to Arbeitsamt:

AA: We talked last time about initiative applications. Why haven’t you written any?
Me: Because I could apply for 8 jobs just by replying to job ads.
AA: But why didn’t you do more than that?
Me: It says in our contract I only have to apply for 6-8 jobs. If you want me to apply for more, write a higher number. You have the power here.
AA: Are you saying that you’re only applying for jobs to fulfill the requirements for unemployment support?
Me: Yes. Of course I’m doing it for the money. It’s the reason I want work. It’s the reason most people go to work. Do you like your job so much that you would do it, even if you didn’t get paid?

What I think about initiative applications:

They poison the well. They spoil companies into thinking they don’t even have to advertise any more, they just have to lean back, and hordes of desperate people will come to them and beg to serve them. Initiative applications shift the power even further away from prospective employees to prospective employers. I think that balance is very much enough in favour of the employers already. I will only write initiative applications when forced to do so.

Yes, I’ve made one initiative application, as alluded to in the real conversation above. That one was also in response to an ad. A company, located in the exact town where I live, wrote out a position for a technician. I liked the ad so much that I called them and asked if they ever hire engineers. Unfortunately, they don’t.

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