For example, all the workshops that I attended were openly guides for how to master a certain genre. The instructors were teaching how to understand the way information should be presented on the page to anticipate a certain kind of reader – often an impatient one who wants clear signals that the applicant fits certain criteria, and with their own styles for interpretation. These are readers who are also reading with other people’s assessments in mind, who are anticipating having to show a resume to someone else in their workplace with their own techniques for interpreting a genre. And while the workshops tend to focus on one genre alone, the job seeker is supposed to be competent at a range of genres, all of which are supposed to interconnect and tell a persuasive narrative about the applicant. This is precisely what students learn in our courses. You learn how to become competent at new genres. You learn how to anticipate the different ways people might interpret your own texts, at the same time that you are learning a range of different techniques for interpreting a text. You often learn the relationships between a textual genre and a performance genre. And, as importantly, you learn how to be persuasive about your own interpretations of a text, a skill that will come in handy when our students have to discuss with their future co-workers who they want to hire.
Who do you most hope will read your book?
I wrote this book for people looking for jobs, for people looking to hire, and for the career counselors who are giving advice. I don’t like the model of the neoliberal self, and want to encourage people to refuse it. The question is how to do this persuasively? I turned to analyzing hiring because it is a moment of such uncertainty and anxiety that when people are being told they had to become a neoliberal self in order to get a job, they will do it for pragmatic purposes. I hoped with this book to suggest that this was not the way to go, both because becoming a neoliberal self isn’t all that effective as a set of strategies and because it is not allowing people to be as ethical and good to each other as I hope they want to be.