Iraq War Veteran Finds that the
Highly Qualified Need Not Apply

(Page 3 of 4)

Sign that reads, "You don't work here. Keep out. Not hiring."
Photo: Daquella manera/Flickr/cc-by-2.0

Here in my own country, I can’t get a human being to so much as talk to me about the possibility of a decent job.

I thought I’d be perfect for this role. After all, I had three years of experience building sophisticated, high-priced, military capabilities while assigned to a major organization’s headquarters in Europe. I had successfully secured more funding, manpower, and equipment from hardnosed Pentagon higher-ups. I had racked my brains with teams of experts to figure out technical work-arounds for shortfalls in equipment. I had executed and managed multi-million dollar budgets, prioritizing which bills had to be paid and determined what new opportunities we needed to invest in. So conducting a simple worker’s survey at a small, local non-profit in order to help them expand their operations seemed like a cakewalk to me.

The second project needed someone to research how much advertising and exposure a new organization was getting in the community. The job seemed pretty simple: surf the Internet, pay attention to local TV coverage, and just get out on the street and research how visible this new organization was and how much attention it was getting. Just research, investigate, survey, ask questions… nothing I couldn’t handle. It’s what military intelligence professionals do on a daily basis.

But this kid with zero life experience except going to some fancy college had the balls to say this: “We just don’t think you have the skills that match our projects.”

I almost leapt out of my chair. But instead I sat still. He must have sensed that I was fuming as I could feel the skin on my own face rapidly rising in temperature. I got that frown that I get when I’m real annoyed that something disappointing has happened. I sat there staring for a moment, boring a hole into his forehead as I narrowed my eyes. I continued to sit still, waiting to see what this kid was going to say next, waiting to see what possible explanation he or his organization had for their decision.

Here I was, a person with extraordinary life experience and with more than adequate skills to successfully complete these projects. The economy was in the toilet, everyone needed to help out to rebuild it, and I was offering my services for free. And these people were going to turn me away? They were going to let me walk… just like that? In that fashion, “We just don’t think you have the skills that match our projects.”