Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 120 of Double-Barrel Unemployment: You're SO Not Hired

Monday March 30, 2009

As a full-time seeker of a new place where I can toil thanklessly for the benefit of those who are already wealthy (and for a paycheck I can pass along to my creditors), I do a lot of my job-seeking online. Most targeted employers or job boards automatically acknowledge my electronic résumé submissions with a short, generic email. Usually it's a simple "Thanks for applying for Job XYZ - we'll call you if we're interested." Some companies will include an invitation to register on their website so that they can alert me to future job openings with their organization.

Sometimes, I'll even get a rejection email, formally informing me that, while my qualifications were "impressive," the company has decided I wouldn't be a good "fit" for that position at this time, but boy, they really were "impressed" and they wholeheartedly wish me "the very best of luck" in my search. I get a strangely comforting sense of closure from these. It's efficient, too. No wasting valuable job search time with bothersome interviews and whatnot - just cut to the chase and reject the candidate up front. It's just easier for everyone that way.

Then, there's the rejection email (or, in rare instances, phone call) that follows an actual interview. My first in-person interview resulted in one of the most thorough and helpful rejection emails I've seen:

"Dear Joe, [they used my first name!]

Thank you for coming in to meet with me and my management team last Thursday. It was a pleasure getting to know you, and we are all very impressed with you and your credentials. We were faced with a very difficult choice (Ms. Johnson got so stressed she required hospitalization over the weekend. She's okay now.), but in the end we determined that another candidate was just a slightly better fit for the Accounts Receivable, Preserves Canning and Facial Hair Grooming Compliance Officer position. We hope you understand.

I strongly believe in giving constructive feedback, and this extends to prospective employees. In that spirit, I have some notes I think you might find useful. First, on your résumé:
  • While I appreciate the importance of making one's résumé distinct from "the crowd," I wouldn't recommend using that fluorescent day-glo green poster board, nor do I think it's a good idea to make one's CV 20" by 30". You're lucky yours didn't get recycled with the junk mail.
  • If you're going to embellish your past job titles, you might not want to include in your references anyone who would provide contradictory information. To wit: Your last supervisor informed us that you were an Accounts Receivable/Order Processing Administrator, NOT "Owner, Inventor, Patent-holder, Spokesmodel, Big Kahuna, Majority Shareholder, Visionary, President and Boss Of Everybody," as you put it.
  • If you're going to share your reasons for leaving previous employers, you might want to come up with something other than "that job was stupid" for each and every one of them. Just a thought.
On your interview:
  • Yes, it is a good idea to arrive a little bit early for a job interview. However, five hours early is too early. You made our receptionist uncomfortable, and while it does show great initiative on your part, she did not appreciate your answering her phone when she got up to use the copier. In the future, may want to limit yourself to arriving a few minutes early.
  • We have a business-casual dress code here, so I can't really fault you for wearing Dockers and a Polo shirt. I also can't legally ask you anything about that intricate network of trusses, supports, straps and medical-looking girdles you were wearing. I can, however, suggest that maybe you wear such items underneath your clothes. Failing that, you may wish to consider wearing a suit jacket over those things. Again, just trying to be helpful, here.
  • Take off your sunglasses and "Who Farted?" hat when you come into our office.
  • While we were all impressed with your energy and enthusiasm, a little more focus on the interview itself would probably have been beneficial. I know our location adjacent to the railroad tracks can be a bit distracting, but running to the conference room window every time a train passed and yelling "Woo Woo!" and "All Aboard!" and then shouting out the number, make and model (and horsepower, in some cases) of every engine, well - it really broke up the "flow" of the interview.
  • Falling asleep while our Director of Operations (the person to whom you would have reported, had you been hired) was asking you a question? Not a good idea.
  • Finally, I must say that we all found the candor and originality of your answers and remarks refreshing, to say the least, but I would try to stay away from such statements as "I just applied here because I have to make at least two job contacts a week or else I'll lose my Unemployment Benefits," or "I thought this job sounded easy," or "Am I getting paid for today," or "This is boring!" And when asked to tell us about yourself, I think 90 minutes about why "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" is the best show on TV, is just way too much, and not really the kind of information interviewers are looking for.
My team (well, maybe not Ms. Johnson) and I sincerely wish you the best of luck in your job search. I'm sure you will find a suitable employer, where you can add value and be happy and fulfilled in your work. Have you considered Ringling Brothers, or perhaps a nice traveling carnival?

Portnoy J. Whatever
President and CEO
Acme Cheese, Inc."

See? That guy was really trying to be helpful! I keep this letter in my "job search" folder, and I review it before every interview.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end of this drivel. More later, as soon as I can muster it (I have to ketchup)...

No comments:

Post a Comment