Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Reaping, aka Application Season

This is the time of year that both aspiring and veteran wildland firefighters are hunched over computers, typing furiously on job applications.  I haven't applied for a job in awhile, but I remember the feeling:  what's a synonym for motivated? is this exaggerating too much? ok, what did I actually DO last summer?
If you don't know this website, rookie, you soon will.
The open period for the permanent jobs has closed and the temporary ones are not yet open.  The permanent job applications will be evaluated at an event called Fire Hire, which is sort of like a Hunger Games of employment, without, you know, the deaths and stuff.  The tributes, I mean applicants, will be rated on a number of factors and then fight it out be interviewed.  Only the strong (or at least the well-spoken) will survive.
"My greatest weakness? Um..."
The people who applied in December won't know till February if they get jobs.  While I'm somewhat sympathetic, I still remember how arduous the process was in the old days.  While today's applicants have the benefit of an online system where they can instantly upload documents and click on the answers to questions, we used to have to fill out a form.  A paper form.  On a typewriter, with white-out if you made a mistake.  There was also the lovely bubble form for which you needed a #2 pencil.  You never got to talk to the hiring official; there was no way to search for his or her name.  You mailed everything in, and you might get a letter in the mail saying you didn't get the job, or you might not.  There weren't that many jobs open then that you could actually apply for unless you had the coveted permanent status already, so if you made it through the process and landed a job you felt pretty good about yourself.  And grateful.
"Yes! We got jobs! Wait a you even know where Rawlins, Wyoming is?"
When applicants call me, I give them tips, kind of like Haymitch gave Katniss and Peta tips for the arena, without the alcohol of course.  Sometimes I spend 20 minutes on the phone with a stranger, because back then, nobody helped me. I just figured it out on my own.  I would like to tell them to relax.  If you keep trying, keep getting good experience, and aren't picky about where you go, you'll get a job.  But until then, may the odds be ever in your favor.

"OK, rookie, ALWAYS spell check! Got it?"


  1. Hahahaha, I think. Lots of experience here. Hope they realize how fortunate they are that someone treats them like a person and spends time helping them out...probably they don't, but still, karma.

    1. I think some of them do, if not they will realize it when they have a supervisor who doesn't care.

    2. Wow, you do go right from fire season into application season...don't you. Not much down time there.

  2. Good on you for sharing your knowledge :)


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