Why What Used to Work In Kung Fu Movies Doesn’t Work In Finding a Job

INQ.:  Kung Fu created its own movie genre many years ago, thanks to the late Bruce Lee and other legendary masters. I, myself, belong to the generation that grew up with movies of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Van Damme, Sammo Hung, Chuck Norris and other practitioners of martial arts who now rarely appear on the silver screen.

One of the clichés in these movies was the young and enthusiastic student trying to prove his/her worth to a master martial artist in order to be his student (Karate Kid, anyone?). I do remember a movie with a young, western boy sitting on a rock in front of the famous Shaolin Temple for days, not moving, until the previously reluctant monks accepted him to their home as a trainee.

Fast forward to our time. Not all of us may be pursuing the dream of becoming the next grandmaster of  wushu but so many of us do want to get a place in the corporate world where we can learn, grow and accomplish so many things.

There is, however, an important obstacle between us and our goals and this holds us back especially when we are at the starting point of our careers. Just as the gates of the temple stayed shut for days for the boy sitting on the rock, we may have to wait for an indefinite period of time until someone opens them wide and greets us, appreciating our determination and devotion.

Of course what happens in movies does not apply in real life. You might plan to wait in front of Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters for days but you’d probably be removed by security after some time.

The harsh reality is even if you express your enthusiasm through your cover letter as a novice, chances are you’ll be overlooked and forgotten… quickly. What opens the gates to the job of your dreams has become nothing other than experience (maybe it always was). Think about it, how many job postings have you seen lately that are for inexperienced (or with little experience) candidates?

Try as hard as you can and yet you will still reach the same conclusion that the job market is the ground for employers who seek experience first. How much enthusiasm or devotion, or even commitment, are sought after eludes me but at least a couple of years on your resume holds the key to getting closer to the job you want.

Now back to our motion picture… In light of what I mentioned above, the plot of the movie would turn into something like this:

The boy sits on a rock for four days, not moving, and finally the wooden doors of the temple open up. A monk appears through the mist of the early morning and tells how much he appreciates the boy’s determination and commitment to martial arts. He has all but a couple of questions before he lets the boy in:

– Are you experienced in carpentry? We need some parts of the temple fixed.

– Have you ever prepared meals for a large group? We need help with preparation of meals three times a day.

– Can you write in Chinese? We have to copy some precious scrolls flawlessly.

Of course the boy does not possess any of these skills and despite his pleas the monk says he cannot let him in because the boy cannot contribute to their community. He hands an envelope to the boy then closes the door.

The note in the envelope says:

“ Dear young spirit,

Thank you for your interest in our temple. Despite your courage, outstanding skills and your iron will, we regret to tell you that we cannot provide you a place in our community. We believe you will find what you seek in your journeys. May Buddha guide you always.”

The whole point of this article is to raise the already existing question through a different narrative and nothing more. It is not only hard to figure out how the inflow of educated unemployed individuals into employment will be made possible but also confusing. When you go through ads these days the average experience required seems to be 3 years (or no less than 2). Companies have the choice to pick future employees among a list of applicants, that is how it works, but are all companies pursuing realistic goals when it comes to recruiting? This reminds me of some of the ads that are still up there for a very long time. 

INQ Update: For another perspective on the related subject I recommend this article from Business Insider.



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