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Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to get a hired in the 'Real World'

While glancing at various news and information sites I came across one of those annoying "self-help" articles that is so full of generic, empty information that it really helps no one other than to promote the company which sponsored the article.

This was basically a 'How to get a job' type article written by someone associated with a very popular job search website (I won't advertise them by specifying the name) and the gist of the article was 3 ways to improve your resume, i.e. "Think Big", "Be Clear" and "Be Real"

Gawd!  Where did they get those from- a fortune cookie?

So I thought I'd take a couple moments and give an honest assessment of what it takes to get hired in today's workforce and the kind of resume required to do so.  Some of the ideas presented may seem satirical or sarcastic but they are quite sincere and not based on academia fantasy but the 'real world' of year 5 of the global recession/depression.

Here's how to dramatically improve chances of finding a job:

1)  Undercut the competition

It doesn't matter how wonderful your resume is in terms of work experience, education, font style or quality of paper its printed on if your salary demands are in line with what everyone else is seeking.  If a job should be paying $20/hr and you are offering your services at $17/hr., trust me it won't matter if your resume was written in purple crayon with stickers of Elmo-- you will at the very least, get an interview which in this job market that's a big deal.

In addition to salary, its important to offer perks to make you stand out-- express you are willing to work evenings, weekends, not require health benefits or will relocate to another branch or store as need be.   Yes its a hardship on you but these employers are cold, cut-throat bastards only interested in the bottom line and maximizing their profits.

So to get hired, its more important what you say or write what you're willing to do, then to simply have have fancy degrees or former job titles.
2)  Pad.. Pad.. Pad..

Don't mean to be crude but a weak resume is much like a small-cupped bra-- both need to be padded to be noticed.  The biggest weakness on a resume is showing that you're currently unemployed.  Many companies won't even accept resumes of those out of work.   So you must accept the truth that if you ever want to be hired Ever again, you're going to have to pad your resume with aspects that don't really exist i.e. fudging the truth.

If you've been out of work a while, simply create your own business..  put down on the resume that from say so n' so to the present, you've worked at "Me, Myself & I, Inc" as owner. The company should be consistent with the field you're applying to work in, but not such that the interviewer might think this business could one day be in competition.

Explain to the prospective employer you're not giving up your fledgling business but you prefer to be retained with their company and keep your business as a side project, etc.   The goal is to show that you're not just sitting around all day eating cookies and watching soap operas while your job skills atrophy, but that you're continually putting them to use.

Its also useful sometimes to pad your education.  Never fib about where you attended college or the degrees you've acquired-- they can be checked.  But add "minors" when necessary.  If you're applying for a job as a hotel manager for example and you have a Bachelor's Degree in Music, write that you also have a minor in Business Admin. or Finance.  It shows you have some education and no employer ever bothers to worry about what you minor in.

Of course, the assumption is you actually are knowledgeable about the field you are trying to enter.  If you do not know how to turn a computer on, don't put on a resume that you have education in Computer Science or Information Technologies, obviously.
3)  "We want what we can't have"

During the interview process, be friendly, knowledgeable, professional, etc.. but also convey through word and body language that you are not desperate to get hired by them (even if you are).  When a potential employer thinks others want to retain your services and you give off that air of quiet confidence, you will be more appealing in the interviewer's eyes.

Whether its a home, automobile, a lover or an employee, basic psychology demonstrates we want the things we can not have, and that prevention makes us want those things even more.

A good way to convey this impression is to create in your mind a "backstory", much like actors do when playing a role in a movie.  They create a pretend past or present to explain to themselves why they are engaging in a particular action.  For instance, during a scene, the actor's character is supposed to drink water.  There's many ways to do this, but the actor pretends he/she has played tennis in the scolding sun all day prior to the scene.  Thus the choice is made to drink the water in a desperate, empassioned manner.

When you go for a job interview, you need to create a "backstory" where you've been to other job interviews and were offered employment but you're at your current interview simply to compare offers.  If you believe your fantasy, you will convey a confidence and non-sexual attractiveness to your employer.   Also don't be afraid to say something like "I am interested in working here at X but I must be honest.. I recently received an offer to work at Y but I really desired working here, what can you do?..."
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The process of finding a job is one big courtship, not unlike finding a mate.  You have to "attract" your suitor by any means, entice so the other thinks he/she holds the cards, then demonstrate a certain independence which makes you hard to get and thus appealing.  From there you stand out, and end up winning, while your peers still struggle to get initial call-backs.

There are no brownie points for being an 'Honest Injun'.. you are competing with thousands upon thousands of applicants--  all hungry and desperate to generate a living so they can pay their bills and survive in this putrid economy...

At the end of the day, nothing else matters but getting hired.  Period.

Good luck & Go Get Em'!