Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Of all the numerous jobs I have held in my 68 years on this planet, the one I most enjoyed was as a professional in the area of job placement. I made a lot of money, met a lot of interesting people, some of whom became enduring friends. But most of all, I learned a lot about the art of preparing resumes and interviewing techniques. I have used these tips and techniques myself and I know they work.

First, keep it simple! Only list jobs held in the last 10 years. Don't put things like job sought on the top of the resume. You may be qualified for a job that the firm doesn't even know they can fill and why shut yourself out of that.

Do NOT have a resume that is as lengthy and garbled as the health care reform bill passed by Congress! Keep it to one page if you can and 2 pages at the very most. You are not out there to prepare a novella - you are there to provide an appetizer that will enhance the appetite of a potential employer. And for the love of all that is holy, make sure that what is on that resume is completely truthful. Employers have been burned enough that they will check. Many employers run credit checks as well. I happen to feel this practice is intrusive and offensive and will not submit to it, but that's just a personal preference. Also, I've always commented that people who have been out of work for any length of time will almost inevitably have a pretty shaky credit history! No income equals no paying of bills. Always remember, the purpose of a resume is to get you the interview.

Now let's discuss what you WEAR to the interview. Yes, you're unemployed. But you had a job once and you must have some suitable work clothing. Think boring. Think subdued and yet clean, crisp and professional. Quoting Barney on "How I Met Your Mother" - "Suit up!" At my present office, we all work in jeans and sweats. But when I interviewed, I was in a suit! If you don't have a suit, wear a sports jacket and crisp white shirt. Park your nose rings in your jewelry box. If you want to be taken seriously, don't look like some reject from the Hell's Angels with tattoos and random piercings. Besides which, these embellishments make you look both dirty and like a slacker. If you want to improve your chances of being taken seriously, see about removal of the really visible tats, kids! You want to be taken seriously, you need to take the business world equally seriously. Above all, NO PERFUME. Consider that many people are allergic to fragrance and show enough consideration to refrain from smelling like a cheap whorehouse!

Before you go to an interview, do a little research on the company online. At least look up the home page for the firm on the internet. Get a little background, how long it has been in business, what sector of our economy is affected by them. Let the interviewer know that you are aware of the firm, it's history and its general business model. Trust me - they won't show it but they will be impressed. Arrive to the interview with an extra copy of your resume and a written out list of references. If they insist that you fill out an application in the lobby, do it without quibbling. Many human resources departments will assess your interaction with reception as part of the process.

During the interview, sit up straight and make eye contact with the interviewer. Make it your policy to never ever bad mouth anyone at your prior employment or the company as a whole. You never know who the interviewer's friends may be. No gum! Smile and seem to be interested in whatever boring crap the interviewer may be spouting. They will, inevitably give you way more information than you need about the company and the job on offer and then ask what I consider to be the world's dumbest question: "Do you have any questions?" to which there is a brilliant answer (assuming the job seems promising): "Yes, when can I start?" Being wanted is such a seductive thing and enthusiasm is your best cosmetic regardless.

Here's the final way of giving yourself your best chance of landing the job. Send a snail mail thank you note. Stop at a coffee shop, write the thank you note and mail it right away after the interview. You have no idea how much that simple courtesy will cause you to move up in the estimation of the human resources person you saw. If you don't hear from the company after 3 work days, call them (or have your search firm call them) and inquire as to the status of the opening. This will keep you in the forefront of their minds!

Finally, never underestimate the power of the temporary job. I have gotten 50% of the jobs I have held as a result of a temporary assignment. When on the temp job I work really hard, smile a lot and really pull my own weight and then some. And you get an idea of whether or not you really would like to work for the firm as well. A good attitude and a can do mindset can create marvelous good fortune.

Best of luck and good working in 2011!-

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