Job searching as an exercise in opposites

In many ways, the entire job search process can feel backwards, or maybe this is just telling of my own way of seeing things.

But as I see it, the whole process is an exercise in opposites:

  • In your resume, you talk about the past to think about the future
  • You read job ads to try to identify what an organization is lacking
  • While interacting with representatives of organizations, you listen for what they DON’T say (the “noisy nots”) to learn about the organization almost as much as you pay attention to what they do say.

In this blog certainly, I have explored the trope of “opposites” a few ways:

I talk about the concept of a “noisy not” (a fun example) from the website of one of my favorite authors, Tony Hawks.

I participate in these “opposites” by asking you to shift your deictic center, to look at things from the other side of the desk.

In this post, I asked you consider how often you ask for what you *don’t* want, instead of showing what you do.

I also shared with you one of my favorite examples from my training as an ethnographer, the example of the non-reversing mirror.

But I also have been thinking a great deal lately about discursive othering.

discursive othering photo walesWho and what (and how) we other can be part of our institutional identity, as I begin to explore in this blog post looking at Greg Smith’s resignation letter from Goldman Sachs published in the New York Times as an Op-Ed entititled “Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs.”

By choosing to focus on organizational contexts, where “the other” is the organization or where the organization is doing the othering, I seek to call into focus the particular challenge for the speaker’s professional self-presentation. That is to say, that the person (or entity) doing the othering must still be cognizant of the maintenance of his or her (or their) professional identity, and might in fact be othering precisely to bolster professional identity claims, as was the case in this analysis.

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