A Full-time Job, G2 and the Struggles of a Freelancer

Veröffentlicht am 6. September 2023 um 17:42

Fighting the anguish of rejection and the horror of poverty

It is common knowledge that the HR are entitled, self-serving, good-for-naught, wannabe psychologists that are subjected to corporate slavery. What doesn’t cease to amaze me is the depth of their incompetence and their failure to recognise the incredible threat that will inevitably render most of them redundant and put them on the opposite side of the barricade: AI. Here is a personal story with my take on what’s broken with the recruitment industry.

A few months ago I had just moved to Germany. I had been freelancing for the better part of the last 8 years and had decided that it was time for a change towards stability (and the perspective of retirement in the Alps). So I decided to pursue a full-time job.


My own tears.

Anguish ensued. Application followed by rejection, an endless loop. The game of job hunting is brutally addictive and plays tricks on your brain - at some point, I realized that I even applied to companies that I thought I'd absolutely hate to work for. But that didn't stop me; no, I was looking for that sweet affirmation that I don't suck, that the last 8 years of my life weren't a waste, and that somebody would actually recognize me as someone who might not be entirely useless to their company. How naive were my dreams.

After a perilous journey of applications and rejections (or, more often, not even rejections but ghosting), I stumbled across an offer that quite literally made my jaw drop.

G2, a leading e-sports organisation with their HQ in Berlin were hiring a video editor and a senior video editor. 

This was absolutely perfect!

Only 10? I could've sworn I had 12 reasons to work there.

1. G2 is one of the world leaders in the rising esports industry.
2. I’m a fan of their tongue-in-cheek approach to greatness.
3. I follow their team and root for them.
4. In my career so far, I had honed skills that were perfect for a sports team - I had become a master of short- and long-form adrenaline-pumping edits, creating awesome promos with a crazy impact, and my experience in TV had taught me how to engage massive audiences.

5. I’m a passionate gamer.

6. I’m available for work.

7. I have management experience.

8. I’m a team player.

9. G2 stands for inclusivity, so I wasn't expecting discrimination based on Eastern European origins (that's actually a thing, by the way).

10. It’s an English-speaking job in Germany.

These thoughts raced through my head as I considered applying for both roles. I was convinced I had the skills, knowledge, passion, and preparation to take on the role of a senior video editor and the humility to start lower and prove my worth over time. It felt like this offer was tailored for me, and it would be my chance to prove to myself that it is possible to get hired as a full-time video editor! I even had a fail-safe strategy to get noticed and ace the application process!

It sounded too good to be true. And it was.

You probably know that most, if not all, companies now use CV bots to perform preliminary screening of candidates. These CV bots are gloriously titled "Applicant Tracking Systems." In short, when you send your CV to a company, a bot scans it for keywords identified by the HR department and conducts the preliminary screening of candidates. So, unless you load your CV with the right keywords, you won't even be considered for a role by a recruiter.

Awww, thanks for doing my job for me!

At the time I was applying to join G2, a thought slithered through my mind that my CV was shit in terms of keywords even after some arduous attempts to fix that - and I knew the CV bot would shatter my dreams with a sledgehammer. I knew I was qualified for the job; so I had a creative idea.

*Plots an obvious approach*

I decided to pretend that I already work for G2.

Their next massive event was going to be the 2023 League of Legends World Championships. What would a great senior video editor do?

My plan was to create a trailer-style video of the G2 roster and set the scale with footage of how close they were to winning Worlds. I had no access to G2 footage, but with the help of OBS, I scoured YouTube and sourced enough footage to serve my purpose. Then I managed to find G2's style guide on Reddit, through which I learned the exact brand colors and fonts that they use in their videos. I used Artlist for the music track and sound effects. Finally, I sat down one Wednesday afternoon and crafted a pretty cool trailer. The glitches were hand-made in After Effects to match G2's brand colors - this is how much attention to detail I put into it.

Ahhh shit, it was Nimbus Sans Condensed Bold!

Back to the drawing board!

I sent the video with my application and placed the link at the very top of my cover letter.

All of my applications ran before my eyes.

A few weeks later, I heard back from G2; it was the standard automated reply that they send to unsuccessful candidates. To say I was devastated would be an overstatement - in fact, the automated reply made me care less. But I was still disappointed because I was sure that I could provide so much value to G2. Either my video was not good enough, or I got screened out by the bot.

Judging by how G2's content has evolved since, I'm convinced it was the bot. Here are some thoughts on that.

The bot will kill recruiters!

There is a valid argument that with the rising demand for employment, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants for every single position. Wouldn't it be great to have a bot conduct preliminary screenings of CVs instead of wasting time going through hundreds, if not thousands, of unqualified candidates to find the right one? Of course!

But the bot isn’t perfect, because it needs human input.

See, the bot needs to be provided with criteria to determine who is qualified and who isn't. These criteria are the so-called "keywords" that your CV should be filled with. I presume that as soon as a position is opened, the HR department of a company identifies the keywords they deem relevant to that position. Two problems arise from this:

1) The capacity of the HR department to determine the right keywords for any given position must be questioned, as one cannot be an expert in all fields. Either a close liaison with the specific department is needed (doubtful, as it might make the HR department redundant), or the HR professionals are winging it - in which case, they are more likely to overlook qualified candidates who describe their work with different keywords.

2) Most industry professionals don’t give a single shit about keywords. This is especially valid for the creative industry. It's important to try and present yourself as effectively as possible, and it makes sense to adapt to the recruitment process; but in the end, you will be hired to provide specific value to a company - and creative input cannot be measured in keywords.

So we need a video editor... should we put "video editing" or just stick to "teamwork" and "leadership"?

This keywords enigma is what has turned the application process into a war between candidates and prospective employers. In the long term there will only be one loser: recruiters.

With the cosmic rise of AI at faster-than-light speeds, there is a world not too far out in which every recruitment department will be rendered redundant. Preliminary screenings are already done by bots, and it’s beyond reasonable doubt that sooner rather than later, AI will be able to determine the right keywords for a vacancy without human input. Interviews are increasingly templated, with the same questions, length and requirements - even across different industries.

This makes perfect sense if HR's efficiency is measured by the speed with which they hire new candidates. A computer will always win.

Always, you say?

So, what is the human leverage in this scenario?

Subjectivity. I firmly believe that a good fit for a company cannot be determined by compiling keywords; in fact, I'm convinced that enough people are doing their research to sell themselves as more qualified than they actually are by using these keywords. Because let's be honest: who has the incentive to oversell themselves to land a job? Is it a confident, experienced candidate, or someone below-par, less experienced, who needs every advantage they can get?

But... but... your CV was excellent!

Kudos to the people who conduct such research; it shows dedication. My point is that keywords mean nothing in the everyday workplace, and the best candidates will always be overlooked in a templated approach to recruitment - and eventually, recruiters will be overlooked too.

As a freelancer, you quickly learn that it's always worth going the extra mile. I can't help but wonder: in the recruitment industry, is there a bigger value statement than recognizing talent that was overlooked by a computer? Going this extra mile will undoubtedly provide the best possible reward in a corporate world: it would make a recruiter irreplaceable.

Let me know what you think.

P.S. At the time of writing, Boris is happily freelancing and enjoying his life in Germany.

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