The Best Job Tips Ever!

It time to share some of the wisdom I have accumulated in job search.  (DISCLAIMER: wisdom accumulated by a professional job searcher on a closed course.)

RESUMES

The resume of course is a paper reflection of the essence of your career.  Personal branding – i.e. how you market yourself – is of paramount importance.  Think of yourself as a can of baked beans: are you Van Kamps (insipid but filling), Bush’s Steakhouse Beans with Onion and Bacon (memorable and ultimately satisfying) or Kroger Cost Cutter (cheap and willing to be put on any plate)?  What’s hot right now is to give yourself a “The” appellation.   For example, there is that guy on “Jersey Shore”, “The Situation”.  Other examples are “The Rock” and “The Edge”.  The key is that your “The” ties into your field and creates the appropriate imagery.  An example might be someone in sales like Sally “The Closer” Johnson, or a carpenter like Steve “The Hammer” Jones.  You have to be careful with this.  In the IT field, for example, Sally “The Blue Screen of Death” Johnson or Steve “Runtime Aborted” Jones could backfire.  A really gutsy but eye-catching technique is to eliminate your name in the heading altogether; i.e. just go with “The Closer” or “The Hammer”.  But again care is indicated: putting “The Velvet Squid” at the top of your resume when you are going for an accounting job may be confusing and even off-putting to the screener.

There is so much contradictory advice out there about what comes after the header.  Objective statement?  Professional summary?  I believe refreshing, direct honesty grabs the screener’s attention and says all the right things about you.  It’s my opinion that nothing is more powerful than the following:

OBJECTIVE: Well duh, to get a frigging job before I’m sleeping under a bridge, dumb ass.

Do this, and sit close to the phone because the calls will come rolling in.

The “accomplishments” section is critical.  Potential employers want to know how you can make them money, save them money, and solve their problems.  If you led the department in leftover meeting donut consumption, you need to highlight that, and put a dollar figure on the housekeeping costs you saved in the meantime.  The key point is that your accomplishments are true and concrete, but if you don’t have any, make some up.

Finally, listen to the experts: don’t put anything about interests or hobbies on there.  No company today gives a flip that you’re a well-rounded person – as a matter of fact, insinuating you have any kind of a personal life can be a deal-killer, because you aren’t going to have one if they hire you – unless it’s a retail position where you work 39.5 hours or less so they don’t have to give you benefits.  And then at $8.50 an hour, you can’t afford a personal life anyway.

INTERVIEWS

Always, always bring food to the interview.  It sets the right tone of friendliness and consideration if you begin by offering the interviewer a chicken leg or a fish taco.  But never assume anything: if you bring a pot of goat meat-lentil curry, bring bowls, spoon, etc.

Once again, personal branding is important.  But with interviews, I’m not talking about marketing, I’m talking about body art.  Envision the following scenario, once again going for that accounting job:

INTERVIEWER: What would you bring to the table in our department the typical applicant won’t?

APPLICANT: (Rolling up sleeve, showing tattoo of the Heinz logo on his forearm) I can balance month and year-end 57 ways.

Mark our man hired!  For those in Quality Assurance, a dagger through a TPS report makes a great impact.  Just keep in mind that it’s estimated that a young person entering the work force today will change careers an average of 13 times, and that tattoo removal laser procedures can be painful and expensive.

It is so important to connect with the interviewer in a personal way.  A quick scan of the office right after the handshake can provide many clues to the interviewer’s hobbies and interests: golf trophies, pictures of him or her shaking hands with the President, one of those singing bass on the wall (don’t press the button).  Care and finesse is required though: for example “Wow, great-looking family – was your wife that fat when you married her?  Mine was.” is probably not your best icebreaker.

Where the rubber meets the road in today’s tight job market is qualifications.  If you don’t have them, don’t hesitate to say that you do.  Well, how do you handle being questioned about those qualifications?  The “classified military operations” scenario never fails – here’s an example of how it might go:

INTERVIEWER: Tell me about a time you used Python to solve a tough business problem?

APPLICANT:  Tehran, 2003 I was a liaison in a black operation between my group and Delta Force – God those guys were sissies, but I digress…

INTERVIEWER: Your group?  What group was that?

APPLICANT: Can’t say.  Double top secret classified.  If I told you I’d be duty-bound to take one of your paper clips and sever your carotid artery with it.  (Glowers menacingly, then a reassuring chuckle)  But I’m confident such extreme measures won’t be required………right?

INTERVIEWER: Oh no, of course not! (laughs, mops brow with handkerchief)  When can you start?

Always follow up your interview with a thank you note, the more obsequious the better.  An  example:

Dear Steve,

Thanks so much for the opportunity to meet you and learn more about Acme Corp.  I was going to Tibet later this year, but your are far wiser than anyone I could possible meet there, so screw ‘em – Dalai Lama me arse!

Happy job hunting – remember it’s not what you know, but what it is.

 

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