This year my middle daughter will be graduating from high school, and I sometimes wonder if she will ever be able to find a job! With so many people out of work and so many that already have skills looking for jobs, it makes me a little anxious for my childrens’ future.
I am a Human Resources assistant for the ministry I work at. Every day I take applications, meet people looking for jobs and test the skills of people that are looking for jobs. I have to say that apparently, no one is teaching young people how to apply for a job and even more people have no idea what to do during a job interview! This is sad to me. We should be teaching our young people how to act in public, how to write, and how to dress appropriately for goodness sake! Imagine my shock, when I spoke with a young man that couldn’t read cursive writing because he had not been taught how to write in cursive!! Can you believe that?!?! Apparently our schools are no longer teaching something as basic as cursive writing! I guess it’s more important to teach children how Madonna changed the music world with her innovative mind! (It’s true!)
I have put together a little list of Do’s and Don’ts for applying for a job and going through the interview process. Hopefully, someone will learn something, and maybe, because of my expertise, someone will actually land a job! Here we go….
1) When picking up applications, please dress nicely! Do not pick up job applications wearing holey jeans, t-shirts with expletives on them or dirty hair! Brush your teeth, comb your hair, wash and iron your clothes. You might think no one notices, but I notice! I make mental notes as well.
2) Be polite! I’m appalled that I even have to mention this, but sadly, I do! Say “please’, “thank you” and “have a nice day”. Politeness will take you far in life.
3) Once you have rounded up all the applications, please write legibly. If I cannot read your application, I will think twice about choosing you. Do not write in cursive (even though you should know how!). Write it out in block letters if you have to.
4) Fill out the application completely! I do not accept applications unless they are filled out entirely. If we are asking for 2 personal references, that means we want 2 personal references! If we ask for your work history, give us your complete work history–the good, the bad and the ugly! Even if you don’t know what your desired salary is, write “negotiable” in the line. We aren’t always looking for the best answers, sometimes we just want to see how well you follow directions.
5) Once again, when you return your application, wear something nice and be courteous! It’s very important at this juncture to do this because if you walk into my office wearing holey jeans or expletives on your shirt and hand me your application, I will make a note of it on your application.
6) If, by now, you have impressed me, I will be calling you to make an appointment for a computer assessment test (not all companies do, but we do). When I call to make an appointment to meet with you, please act a little excited! There is nothing worse than calling an applicant to ask them if they can come in on such and such a day, to have them hem and haw, and tell me they “suppose they can come in”….seriously??? Then I “suppose” I can file your application in my “lost” file…. If you need to check your schedule, that’s fine, say “Let me just check my schedule to make sure I am available at that time.”
7) When you come in for said computer assessment, once again…dress nicely and be courteous. Look me in the eye and speak to me. Don’t mumble, don’t use expletives and please don’t make body noises! (Yep, it’s happened!)
8) Now, if perhaps, you should have a phone interview, please speak plainly, don’t say “ummm” every two seconds and please do not tell me you just had a “brain fart”! Yep, it happened! Guess what? The guy did not get the job. Speak with a pleasant tone, act excited and tell me “thank you” at the end of the interview.
9) At my work place, we do a computer assessment, a phone interview and a group interview. If you are called in for a group or single interview…same stuff applies. Dress nicely (suit and tie for guys, dress pants and blouse or dress for girls) and be courteous. The only time I would ever say you could get away with dressing in jeans and t-shirt is if you are applying for a construction type of job and you have to go down to a work site to interview. We are trying to decide who we want to represent our company, and I can guarantee, it isn’t going to be the “dude” who is wearing a t-shirt that says “I Scored Last Night at Harmony Bowl”!!
10) Following your interview, a nice follow up email, phone call or note to me is always good. It shows that you are serious about wanting to work here and it will make you stand out. Now, please do not call me every day, wanting to know if you got the job or not! This seriously irritates me because I am very busy. I try to get back to you in a timely manner to let you know what is going on. If I gave you a timeline of when you would be hearing back from me, and that date goes by and you haven’t heard from me, then by all means, give me a call or shoot me an email.
11) Please do not get mad at me and send me nasty emails if you do not get the job. There are many reasons why some people get the job and some don’t. I can say, with quite a bit of certainty that if you do all of the above, and you ARE qualified, you should at least be in the running for the job! The HR people, such as myself, have discovered that there are certain traits or personalities that we have found that work very successfully in our department. There are also certain traits or personalities that we know will not be a good fit for our department. We might absolutely adore you and want to work with you more than anything in the world, but if you aren’t the right fit, we will know and we will not hire you. It isn’t being discriminatory or anything else. It’s just that there is nothing worse than putting an exorbitant amount of time hiring you, training you and then having someone quit two weeks later because the job just wasn’t a good fit for them. It happens. I had an applicant come in that passed all our computer assessment and phone interview with flying colors, but when it came time for the group interview, we saw some personality traits that we recognized would not work well with our department. She was a lovely, sweet, dear person, and I would choose her as a friend, but we just knew she would not work out. It pained me to do it, but I had to tell her she was not a good fit for our department.
12) Keep looking and keep applying! Most people do not get the first, second or third job they apply for. I hate that our economy is in the tank and that there aren’t enough jobs to go around, but be persistent! Get out in the morning and start applying. Don’t sleep in until noon, and start out in the late afternoon. Do something every day towards finding a job. If you can’t find a position, make yourself a position! Is there something you can do? Make something and sell it? Do you have a hobby that could make you money? Start marketing yourself to that. Get an Etsy.com account and start selling that cute baby stuff you’ve been making for family and friends! Start going to garage sales and finding stuff to sell on Ebay. Do something! You never know…you might find something that makes you better money than going out and getting a job….and then you can wear those holey jeans and t-shirts all day long!!