Essay/Opinion: On job-seeking and cop shows


Do you like cop shows? Detective stories? A good-old murder mystery?

I love them. From Sherlock, to Bosch, Brooklyn 9-9 or Numb3rs (the last one being an old guilty pleasure of mine). I grew up watching reruns of Magnum P.I, Diagnosis: Murder and Murder, she wrote (thanks, mom and grandma). I love the whole “let’s solve a case” process, even in comedic settings.

Maybe that’s why, while I was drying my hair yesterday, I had an epiphany:

Being a job-seeker is really about doing detective work.

[Okay, being a recruiter is probably even more detectivesque, but let me stick to the former statement for the sake of fun and continuity]

“They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains,” he remarked with a smile.
“It’s a very bad definition, but it does apply to detective work.”

[Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – A Study in Scarlet]

I sit before my computer, with access to hundreds of potential suspects, via LinkedIn. Which one will open the door to my next job? Any good-old cop will tell you that leg work is the pillar of good police work. Think Mike Ehrmantraut – okay, maybe he’s not the best definition of “good” cop, but he’s damn good at his job, though. Patient. Thorough. Committed. You want those qualities for yourself, believe me.

And so you start your leg work (or in this case, fingertip-work).

You browse (pro)files with interesting titles, follow connections, identify known associates… and then, when you finally find a person of interest, the questioning begins. Friendly questioning, good-cop style, over a cup of coffee. You hope for cooperation, maybe you leverage your skills and some juicy info so the other person feels more inclined to help. Typical quid pro quo situation. You take out your little Moleskine notepad and fountain pen (no reason not to be a stylish detective) and scribble down anything and everything they say. Will you be able to understand your own hurried handwriting? You doubt it, but you can’t afford to slow down; you could miss the one clue that cracks the case.

Maybe you strike gold on your first try, but most likely you won’t. Back into your suspect pool again. Next interview. More coffee. And each time, before you leave them, you hand them something:

“Here’s my invitation to connect. If you remember anything that could help, stay in touch”.

But you know in your heart, they most likely won’t.

In between questionings, you collect and tidy up your evidence. After all, when you can finally present it to the judge (aka recruiter) it’d better be ready. A thorough timeline of your latest employment, a collection of fact-based competences, a mug-shot with a bit of a personality profile on the side. You may even give a little press conference in the hope that someone out there will come to you with tips.

You slowly (but steadily) build a solid case. Evidential burden dictates that it’s you who has the obligation to produce evidence, to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that you’re qualified for that position. Just like that, cop and prosecutor all in one.

Well, now I’ve clearly moved on to lawyer shows, because I did watch seven seasons of The Good Wife at some point (and then Netflix took it down and I could never finish it. Anyone knows how it ends?).

Gonna go put on my trench coat and look for POIs over a cup of black cof… I mean, tea. I drink tea. I have the feeling my job-seeking is going to be a little more exciting from now on.

I hope yours too.