Monday, August 24, 2009

Job Seeking 101

The start of the school year is the most depressing time for me. Change and transitions are never fluid and calm in my spirit. Instead they are like a thousand rocks crashing and crunching around. Constantly being grounded up and rumbling. Schedules that are on paper, but not yet lived out, completely stress me out. I would love for my nature to be different, but it is not. For example, not fully understanding how my kids should be dressed when they arrive at swim practice verses what they should pack has swirled around in my brain more times than I care to admit. Anyway...

Last week, I was driving to "work." By "work" I mean some very loosely defined hours at the office where I pick and choose the lesser of the evils to accomplish that day. I explained to Jay, my husband, that if I helped out at our business I would have to have tasks that did not significantly impact accounting or inventory. My purpose in doing so was to minimize the level of conflict we have experienced in the past from working together. Of course, what is there to do that doesn't drastically affect these two areas? Human Resources. I have written and distributed the official Employee Handbook and posted two job listings on Monster. com.

The first posted position on monster was for a basic warehouse position. The pay is appropriate for an entry level job and nice benefits are to commence upon completing a 90-day probationary period. There is the possibility of upward mobility with the job, so we were looking for someone willing to work hard and grow with the company.

I believe evidence of our recession can be measured with the following statistic. 120 resumes received within 2 weeks, for an unskilled job listed on monster. I can't imagine what volumes we would have received had we placed a classified in the newspaper. We also posted a position for an IT Manager which, last count, we received over 200 resumes from interested applicants.

Sifting through all of this information, calling prospects on the phone, interviewing applicants, I have gleaned a few tidbits of information over the past several weeks and I thought I might pass along. Let my experiences be to your gain!

1) If you have not worked longer than 3 months at any of the 8 jobs you have had in the last 2 years, it is probably best that you explain why you are unable to pass a 90-day probationary period. Your chances of being hired are pretty low.

2) If I ask what your previous employer might say about you and your answer is, "Well, probably not very good since I just walked out on them." Your chances of being hired are pretty low.

3) On your resume if you say that your reason for leaving is that you had conflicts with new management styles. Your chances of being hired are pretty low.

4) When asked in an interview to tell me about when you were part of a team that worked successfully together and your answer is, redundantly, "It was when they all worked together," thus giving me a simple definition of teamwork, your chance of being hired are pretty low.

5) On your resume if you list under interests, "I have 13 children," it does makes me think twice. I will still interview you, based on your qualifications. If you want your chances of being hired to go up, take that OFF your resume.

6) If you have established your own website to promote your skills and qualifications, it would be to your advantage if you would not have paragraph after paragraph written about your interest in astronomy and star trek.

7) To add to #6 you might also increase your chances of being employed if you would remove the tab from your website marked "donations." Yes, as strange as this sounds, companies may think twice about someone who openly and without shame posts a paypal button on their website to receive funds for themselves rather than a social cause.

8) If you ask if you are going to be drug tested during your interview, "You know, so you won't take some "medication" that shows up on drug tests," your chances of being hired are pretty low.

9) If you ask me to "hold on" while you ask loudly, "Can someone drive me over to High Point for an interview on Wednesday," your chances of being hired are pretty low.

10) If a family member responds to the request for an interview because the applicant does not speak English well enough to speak on the phone themselves, your chances of being hired are pretty low.

11) If you attempt to post a "resume" to the job listing with only your name and phone number, your chances of being hired are pretty low.

12) If you post the following statement, "This is my sister's computer and I can't put my resume on," your chances of being hired are pretty low.

13) If you show up for an interview wearing ragged, dirty shorts and a t-shirt, your chance of being hired are pretty low. It is a warehouse position, but a pride in personal hygiene is still essential.

14) If you live out of state and believe that we might pay for "relocation" expenses for an hourly warehouse position, your chances of being hired are pretty low.


15) Non-working phone numbers supplied will, surprisingly, lessen your chances of being hired.

This is not a complete list of my experiences; I could on with probably 30 more, but you get the picture. Most of these seem to be "common sense" issues really. For example, if you don't have transportation, don't let me believe that you are the mercy of whomever happens to be in the room at the moment.

Sadly, the experience also shed light on a certain population segment that is must be suffering the greatest during this economic downturn. We received multiple resumes from people in their 50s who had worked at one or two places their entire lives. These are people who were employed by the furniture or textiles industries so prevalent in our geographical area, working in a warehouse for their entire careers. With the recession and outsourcing overseas, most of these industries have drastically downsized or ceased to exist altogether. After 15 or 20 years with the same company, these workers were making a nice hourly wage with good benefits. However, these same dedicated and loyal workers did not have positions that required continuous education or training. They have been left without computer skills and experiences now needed by most companies. Where do they find jobs? Who is hiring this segment of the population? Hard working people whose chances at decently paying job are very low.

On the flip side, I was stunned at the presentation either through resumes, over the phone or in interviews of well over 60% of the applicants. I believed that with so few jobs available in this area, with so many people out of work, that the younger generation would step it up a bit, attempt to sell themselves and want to be hired. Most were amazingly clueless or really didn't want to be hired.

In the end, I was able to find 2 strong applicants who we have hired for the warehouse. We are still wading through the IT resumes as those skill sets are more involved. Interviews should begin next week. Wish me luck.


jenniferkk said...

This is so ridiculously funny but it really isn't funny at all. How very sad that these skills or manners aren't taught by parents or at the high school level BEFORE job seeking begins. Yes, I too thought most of these points would be common sense but again, if sense were common, everyone would have it.
I'd like a job. Do you hire moms who have, for the past 13 years, had NO out-of-the-home work employers listed on a resume since prior to 1996? Or are my chances of being hired pretty low??? ;-)

Anonymous said...

I think it is all in positioning and angles. If you listed all the volunteer positions you had in addition to the "at home" duties, it would show your hard work despite not getting paid. Completing a year or more volunteer commitment to an organization is still better than half the resumes we received.