“The outcome of this intensive training and supervision of the steward is a highly disciplined self, or as Hochschild puts it, a managed heart, who is required to manage emotions, demeanour and appearance in order to project the principles defined by the corporation.”

Having been neck deep in the job hunt for the last 3 months, this sentence really struck home with me. On the one hand, each recruiter I talk to is projecting some aspect of the company on the behalf of which they’re interviewing me. On the other, I’m trying to present the version of myself that is most in line with their “company image.”

It reminds me of the club my friends and I started in third grade – “The Mighty Goobers.” Somewhere in my old files is the Mighty Goobers Constitution, laying out the tenets of the group. I have very distinct memories of other kids in our class wanting to join the club…naturally, we held tryouts. They weren’t particularly rigorous tests, as everyone ended up joining the club (which was really just an excuse to give ourselves and our friends nicknames).

Trying out for The Mighty Goobers is analogous to applying for and interviewing for a job. As we ran around the playground during that recess, each kid was trying to get a handle on what version of themselves would give them the best chance at making the group. Applying for a job is no different in many ways, albeit more sophisticated: I tailor my résumé and cover letter to the specific position for which I’m applying; I do my research to learn about their approach to and the nature of their work; and when I speak with an interviewer I try and put my “best foot forward” so they’ll be more likely to consider me for the position.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that applying for a job is as much a social activity and subject to the influences of the the cultural status quo as a third grader’s recess club.