"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars"
Friday, 24 July 2015
The snow of summer
One evening, a couple of years ago, yours truly was looking at a computer screen, mesmerized by the image on display. It was almost midnight and insomnia was looming. It was July, it had been an hot summer day and even at that late hour the temperature in the room was high! What kept the Count glued to the screen? The image displayed was, ironically, from a very distant place. It was a city webcam from the town of Vorkuta, in the deep Komi territory of the Russian Federation!
It was past 3AM in Vorkuta, but since it was summer, the night was like day and every detail of the square on display was visible. Some cars were still cruising the main avenue and even a few people walking were captured by the city´s webcam. What made the scenario even more extraordinary was that a snow storm was happening at that same moment, a far cry from the stereotype of a typical summer night, even in those remote lands!
The storm was fierce, engulfing the landscape in a wintry scenario in the peak of summer. The wind was relentless and the trees were bending and shaking violently. The road and the sidewalks were all covered in white snow, with an appearance that would appeal to any winter tale story teller. The contrast between the suffocating environment of a room that was embedded in the stale air of a very hot day and the snow storm bursting through every pixel of the computer screen couldn’t be bigger!
For the Count that was a metaphor of life and specifically some aspects of modern society: for the common mortal the hot weather that the Count was experiencing was incomparably more desirable than a winter storm in a summer day! “They see things scratching the surface and not even caring about what may lye underneath” the Count thought. What would be more interesting at that moment: to spend the night struggling with the sweltering heat or experience the uniqueness of a winter night in summer? He would definitely go for the later…
So the reader will rightfully ask: “What has this got to do with the intra-EU labor market? Vorkuta is not even in Europe…” Well, you are right: in the surface nothing in common but, you see, that’s only if you scratch the surface. That image of a snow storm may also be a metaphor for today’s job market: a contradiction in terms, the stupefying image of the bizarre, the uncommon, the unpredictable. Many candidates nowadays feel like that when applying for open vacancies: they have no idea of what is wrong or right, what is preferable or undesirable, what is expected or rejected. And they don’t know that because on the other side the situation is peculiar: quite often HR or recruiters have no idea of what their job is or the criteria applied is the equivalent to snow in a summer day.
The reality is that some EU countries are selling us the image that this “Vorkuta summer day” is the standard in today’s job market and that every EU candidate should capitulate to that idea. On the other hand, the Count, with a romanticised view of the world, still believes that everyone should be entitled to their place in the sun, regardless of the season, the residence or the caprice of the weather. Even if they live in “Vorkuta”.