Friday, August 27, 2010

Abby’s Handy Guide to Getting a Job: Or, How Not to Look Like a Douche When You’re Unemployed.

It’s hiring season at my job again which means I have a whole bunch of job applications to look through and a whole new group of people to interview and, subsequently, mock mercilessly on this blog.  

As a disclaimer:  I work as a supervisor at a UC Library and am in charge of 32-36 student employees all at once, so many of these tips will be no-brainers for adults who’ve held career-type positions.  Since I am one of the people who hires people on the lower rungs of the job hunt ladder, that's who this is aimed at: those young folks just looking for a job to pay them while they drink - er- study their way through college.  (Of course, this is also advice that you can take to the next level of a career job hunt... but if you need this guide at that point you may have bigger problems than I can help with.)  For those people, these tips may prove both helpful and, in some cases, even shocking.  But in a time when jobs are tight and our state has double-digit unemployment rates, the market is increasingly competitive so either bring your “A” game or get the hell out of my applicant pool.
The Job Application:
1- This is the first impression anyone on the other side of the hiring table gets of you, so for god’s sake make it as neat as possible.  Use your “adult” handwriting if it’s a handwritten application (after all, if people can't read your name they're probably not going to call you) and if you mess up and spell your last name wrong, don’t scribble it out and keep going – kill a tree and start a fresh application!  Or use white-out!  Scribble marks on an application only show that you were too lazy to fix something you knew was a mistake.

2- Follow directions.  If the form asks you to circle only one thing, do it, don't circle three things and write a sentence above it explaining why you didn't do what they asked.  Most jobs want you to be able to follow written instructions for something – prove to them that you can read by doing just that.

3- Don’t ask the person giving you the job application if the company administers drug tests.  I mean, come on people, do you really think people who aren’t using drugs ask that question when they apply?
(Also: Employers are required to disclose drug tests as a condition of employment either on the application or during the interview so they’re not going to blind-side you with it, you stoned mofo.)

YES, all of these things MATTER.

The Resume:
1- Unless you’re applying for a career position and all your job experience is relevant, there is no reason your resume should be more than one page long.  I don’t care how many pizza parlor jobs you’ve held down since you graduated high school, trim that stuff down so that you don’t end up with two sentences on the useless second page.  Format these things, people!

2- Spell check is not god.  Pay attention to what your computer replaces your misspellings with, as having a job in “costumer service” may not be pertinent to a job where you deal with customers and not giant spools of tulle.

3- Your photograph has no business being on your resume, especially if the photograph is taken by a webcam while you’re in your PJs in your dorm room.   I don’t care how many times you watch Legally Blonde, being a cute white girl without a bra on should play no part in the hiring process (and if it does you may have just landed yourself a position in Sexual Harassmentville). 

The Interview:

1- If you shake hands with your interviewer, I don’t care what gender either of you are, don’t be a limp fish!  Your handshake says a lot about how eager you are to meet the person who’s hand you’re shaking and you should ALWAYS be excited to shake the hand of a potential employer. 

2- Dress like you care.  I know this is cliché advice, but if I have to chose between one person who wore a polo shirt and jeans and another who wore dress slacks and a button-up dress shirt, I pick the snazzy-lookin’ one almost every time.  Unless you wear a tuxedo or formal ball gown to an interview there’s really no such thing as over-dressing for a job interview at any level, so why not make it obvious that you dressed to impress the person interviewing you? 

3- Ladies, if I can clearly see your nipples when I'm not even looking for them, that’s a deal-breaker.

4- Show up sober.  And no, stinking like booze from the night before but not actually “feeling drunk” does not count as sober.  Neither does taking “only 3 bong rips” before you leave your house.

5- When you open your mouth to talk, have a plan.  Don’t ramble on and on without thinking about the question they actually asked you and for god’s sake, don’t go into painful detail about your previous jobs.  Using phrases like “filing, answering phones, and organizing” go a lot further than “I filed reports that people wrote up for the city and then submitted for review with our company, I answered the phones and transferred calls and took messages if the people they were calling for weren’t there, I organized their drawers of pens and pencils and put all the pens in one tray and all the pencils in another…”  Chances are that if you got bored just reading that last sentence your interviewer will get bored listening to it too.

6- Try to think like your interviewer and answer things appropriately.  For instance, if you’re interviewing for a position at a library, you might not want to stress how friendly you are and how much you love talking to people. 

7- If you were fired from your previous job, don’t start trash-talking your previous supervisor, unless you had a lawsuit against your prior boss and can prove that they were a total jerkwad.  No matter how wronged you may feel you've been at your previous job, the person interviewing you will always be thinking about how well you take supervision and admitting that you've argued with previous managers is like waving a flag around saying, "I like conflict!"  The phrase “A personal/scheduling conflict forced us to part ways” is your friend (and if they want more detail they will ask for it).  The phrase, “My manager had anger issues and wouldn’t give me the time off that I asked for” is not.

8 - Turn off your damned cell phone.  Texting during the interview = dealbreaker.

 9-  Do not scratch your nuts immediately before shaking the hand of the person you're about to be interviewed by.  Really, you shouldn't be scratching your nuts at all during an interview, but if you do have to do it, for god's sake wait until you're sitting down and can be more discreet.

I know what you're thinking, and yes, I have encountered each and every one of these things in my 4 years as a hiring supervisor.

Thus concludes my instructional guide to getting a Joe Job.  There may be more "don't"s than "do"s but it's important to take the time to learn from other people's failures.  You're welcome, world!  

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