Monday, April 21, 2014

Job Hunting Ain't for Sissies

Job Hunting Thought for the Day: When they tell you "Bring a resume and wear proper business attire" you know it's an entry level job. Any professional already knows this and doesn't need to be told.

I once had openings for instructors and interviewed candidates who looked great on paper. One morning, a woman (who was in her 50s if she was a day) showed up in a miniskirt with unwashed, unkempt hair, no stockings, bruises on her legs, and hollow eyes and yet she had a stellar resume! Perhaps if I had bothered to check her qualifications, I would have found that it was nothing but lies. But I was very glad I hadn't advised anyone to wear proper business attire, because it allowed me to weed her out immediately.

The key to interviewing is to minimize the amount of people who come before you. You don't want to waste your time with just anyone: You want to pick from a small group of people who are the best fit for the position you're advertising for.

Incidentally, that goes both ways.

I got a call from a woman this morning. It was canned and went something like this: "Hello [insert name here]. How are you today? That's good. Well, [insert name here] my boss saw your resume and wanted me to call you immediately. Are you still looking for work, [insert name here]? Wonderful. Our company is 50 years old and we are looking for both sales and management positions. Does that sound like something you'd be interested in, [insert name here]?"

I stopped her at that point. "Hey," I said in a kindly manner, "It's pretty obvious that you're giving me a canned speech. That means that you're calling a lot of people, and that means that you have a high turnover. So I'm assuming that your sales positions are commission only, right?"

Startled, she admitted it. "OK. Well that's something I'm not interested in, although I really appreciate the call," I said to her.

Look: A company pays commission-only when they're selling a product they don't believe in and/or they're exploiting their workers. There are gullible and well-meaning people who fall for this, obviously, or Amway would never have been successful. But I am not one of them. I will only work for a company that truly believes in what they're selling and I believe that, with my background and qualifications, I am entitled to be paid a fair wage.

Sometimes there's a variant: The company pays its sales force commission-only but promises an eventual spot in management if they're "willing to make the sacrifice up front." That means that many people make that sacrifice and it never pays off. After all, not every salesperson can be a manager. This method is employed locally by a "marketing" franchise that works for Home Depot and has their people hoofing it throughout the store all day, trying to upsell customers into allowing Home Depot designers into their homes.

Which brings me to another point: There is apparently a trend that's surfaced where companies are renaming themselves as a "marketing" company, when all they are is a churn-and-burn that gobbles up fresh-faced rookies, works them hard, and spits them out. I suspect sometimes the owners/managers themselves are often kindly people who don't fully understand what they're doing, but the likelihood is that they simply turn a blind eye.

Then there are the companies that give you a phenomenal title, bring you in as the new star player, and then you suddenly find yourself working phone sales in a noisy room under the glare of cheap industrial lighting.

I had this happen to me once, and then I discovered that it was a business run by Scientologists. Scientologists are famous for exploiting workers because bad management skills were taught and codified by the head of their religion, therefore it's actually a part of their faith. You will always be happier working for anyone else, because even Satanists will most likely be using proper management techniques rather than the infamous and ineffective Wise Management that is touted by the Scientologists.

Hey: In the workplace, I don't care if you're a Scientologist. I don't care if you're Mormon, Catholic, Jewish, or if your deity is The Flying Spaghetti Monster. But if you bombard me with your faith and I don't agree with it, nothing good can come from it. That's why the EEOC was invented. Secular employers need to remember that. If you want your brand of religion in the workplace, fine: Hire only those people that agree with you.

My specialties are marketing, public relations, and business-to-business sales. But I live in Florida, specifically the Tampa Bay area, where the majority of jobs are low-paid service jobs unless you're an illegal immigrant who's getting paid under the table: Then your job is an even lower paid service job. But if you have a degree or do white collar work, competition is fierce and many people are willing to settle, even if it's just temporarily. That's never a good idea.

Ultimately, job hunting is very much like dating. If you find the company is not a good fit, walk away or you'll regret it later.