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You can tell a lot about someone by the blanks she leaves on a job application. The little gaps in her job history speaks volumes. A question left unanswered is like a confession of past wrongs. People expect me, as Human Resources manager, to read what's in a resume, but I've always felt that it's what's not in a resume that tells me more about a person.
Sarah Courtnall would be in my office in a few minutes, applying for a position with the company. What position? Well, there's the first blank on the application form. Her resume shows an education in accounting, and several years of experience in the field, but she didn't specify it on the application. Maybe she needs a job so badly that she's willing to accept a position in data entry, or in secretarial.
Her next blank was left in job history. A four year blank, in fact. My mind filled with various scenarios. Usually there would be an explanation. Going back to school, raising a young family, whatever. Usually, the applicant would explain this in her cover letter, which in this case was notably absent.
Finally, a real no-no. She had left blank the question about whether she'd been convicted of a criminal offense. I puzzled over this one. If she had been convicted, it's surely something she'd either put down on the application, or lie about, but not leave blank. If she hadn't been convicted of a crime, she'd surely put down "no". Was it a case pending? Was she hoping that I wouldn't ask?
There were a whole host of omissions in this application. Personal references, contact numbers at her previous employer (as if that would stop me from calling), even an emergency contact, in case of illness or accident.
Of course, what's in a resume can say a lot too. Her address was in a very bad part of the city. A slum, really. Her age, 32 years old (pretty young to be down and out). There was an old certificate proclaiming her to the honour roll at her college, and an old reference letter from her first employer, praising her as "promising".
With the job market so slim, I knew that our advertisement would bring people out from the woodwork. We were one of the few local companies, based on our strengths overseas, that was hiring right now. This put me in a position of power, which of course, I would never consider abusing if I though the applicant had any real potential of advancing in the company (purely an exercise in self interest, I assure you). This girl, well, I'd have to see.
I buzzed the intercom, and asked Madeline to send in the next applicant. I stepped up to the door to open in a crack. I could hear Madeline down the hallway.
"Mr. Kowalski will see you now, miss."
This sound, followed by the hurried clicking of Sarah's step towards my door. I returned to my desk, and watched her enter the room.
The woman had dressed well for the occasion. She wore a co-ordinated blue blazer and skirt, nice blouse, and carried an attaché case under her arm. The clothes were a bit out of style. Maybe they were left over from when she was the head of the A/R department of her previous employer some years back.
But, god, was she nervous. I stood to shake her hand, and she almost tripped over herself on her approach to the desk. She was a skinny thing, maybe a little too skinny for my tastes, with a bra size to match. Her face was fairly nice with striking green eyes, but a few stress lines showed through the make-up surrounding them. She must have been a really attractive girl before the drugs took over.
That's what I decided had happened. The gap in her job history, the ambiguity about a criminal conviction, her address in a heroin infested neighborhood, her "almost-too-thin" appearance, they all pointed to a recent drug addiction. Was this a part of her attempt to kick the habit?
"Good morning, " I said, " Please have a seat."
"Good morning, " she replied. I think she must have caught on to the way that I was eying her. She seemed yet more self-conscious as she took a seat across from me. I know I was leering, but she still had legs she could be proud of.
I pulled out her application, and turned over to the page where I'd find what I wanted.
"There's no answer here, " I started " about criminal convictions. Are there any?"
I sure knew how to start things off on the right foot. I could almost feel her heart sink as I asked the question. How quickly she dropped her attempted self-confidence was a thing to behold.
"I ... uh ... wasn't sure how to answer, " she stuttered. " I mean, I ... um ... entered a court ordered program to treat my problem."
"That counts as a conviction, " I offered. " You should answer 'yes' to that question on applications, for future reference."
A short pause, as the tears welled up in the corners of her eyes.
"What's your addiction to?" I pressed further.
"It was heroin, but I swear, I'm off of it. I've been clean for six months now."
"I see, and that's why you've been out of work for some time."
She was trying so hard. I almost felt sorry for her, but that really isn't my thing. I was getting that predatory feeling instead. I could have this woman.
"I'll tell you what, if you're really off the drugs, I can do something for you, " I said.
"Really, " her eyes lit up.
"If, " I continued, " you'll agree to do some things for me. Sexually, that is."
.... There is more of this story ...