posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 05:42 PM
This thread is based on a recent rant thread where someone detailed how hard it was finding a job. Responses to his post were mostly by people with
the same issue who related their stories. They are heartfelt stories and sad to read, really. Not being able to find work when you really need it is
about the most frustrating thing there is. I posted a short bit there, but thought the issue needed a lot more attention, so I’m spending a couple
of hours preparing this, in several parts, in hopes it will be of use to you
I’ve been there—many times. I’ve had about thirty jobs, from making Nitwicks, those little tiny candles that came in the shape of animals, to
professional librarian. Way back in the seventies I borrowed a resume style from the husband of a co-worker. Over the years it has been very
successful. I always get interviews. It has never failed. I’d like to talk about this and other issues in this thread.
I’m not writing this in anticipation of arguing with anyone. I’m laying out what has worked for me, including some of the sometimes painful
decisions I have had to make in the course of a career. If my points don’t work for you, fine. If they do, that’s my hope. If you have other
success stories to share, that would be great! My proof of the success of these points is that I was able to retire comfortably at age 55. Some of
this was luck, I know, but my working career is over, I hope.
I came into the job market in the late sixties in Seattle. Boeing had just laid off 100,000 people in 18 months. They had 35,000 left. Many of my high
school buddies graduated and went to work for the “Lazy-B.” The company had bet the farm on the 747 and lost. Air passenger miles plummeted and so
did the company and its one-horse town. Someone put up a bulletin board that said, “Will the last person to leave please turn out the lights?”
Well-educated aerospace engineers were abandoning their houses and moving south. My father lost his job and we nearly lost the house. My mother, a
meticulous person, managed to keep up the $85 a month payments. It was grim.
So this is nothing new. It’s happened before. The issue is how to survive it.
First, let’s address the job application resume issue. Lots of people report, “I applied to hundreds of jobs and never got a response.” Some
people say thousands. Most people say “several a week.” Many people say they are forced to apply online with the same results. I’m reminded of
Einstein’s quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” If you really are
applying to hundreds of jobs and getting no feedback, then you are doing something wrong. Your methodology is faulty.
So you are going to have to change it. The first thing to consider is the fact that you are applying for hundreds of jobs. That tells me you are
using a scatter-gun approach. You are applying for anything and everything. Now you probably think you can do “that kind of work” as well as
anyone, and you probably can, but employers are not in a position where they need to hire anyone who manages to walk through the door. They can afford
to be picky. So your task is to put yourself into the employer’s mindset.
OK, now you are an employer. You have a position you posted which got you a couple hundred applications. They all look the same. What are you going to
do? The first thing you will do is divide them into “legible” and “illegible.” Keep the ones you can read. Toss those you cannot. The second
cut is for neatness. You can be legible, but messy. Messy resumes get tossed. The third cut is for grammar and spelling. Yes, now you are a Grammar
Nazi, and those who fail the test get tossed. The fourth cut is for relevance. Do you have experience in this field or not? Those who don’t have
experience get tossed.
This is a major argument for you to focus on what you know, or at least make the employer think you know. For example, I have a friend, Terry, who was
looking for work. He called up an auto dealer who had advertised for someone to wash the cars in the lot. He was asked if he had any experience. Terry
says, “Why, yes. I just washed my car this morning!” Now Terry was hoping his smart alec answer would elicit some humor, but it didn’t. The guy
said, “I was hoping to find someone with experience.” Now what if Terry had said this: “Yes, I know what you mean. In a large environment with
many cars you have to be efficient. You simply cannot spend eight hours detailing a car, which I’ve also none, by the way. You need to get those
cars looking sharp and ready to sell as fast as possible. There ware ways to do that. Why don’t I come down and talk to you and I can share some of
that?” Then you have a few hours to quickly make something up.
This was a telephone conversation, but it served as a resume, and for written resumes the same rule applies. How can you stand out? In my opinion, you
have to break the rules. Don’t believe the “Your resume must be only one page!” rule, for example. I have a PDF resume right now, for example,
that is 19 pages long. My standard printed resume is 8 pages long printed on 11 x 17” stationery paper commercially in a “newsletter” format.
Even my plain Jane 8-1/2 x 11 resume is 9 pages long, with some of it in color.
Why? Because it gets noticed. It ALWAYS goes into the “keep” pile because no one has ever seen anything like it before. My very first and
primitive try at this was a resume I submitted to DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation, remember them?) when they were about to open some retail
computer stores. I pasted a decal of the chromacolor Apple Logo next to my blurb about being conversant with Apple ][ microcomputers. The hiring
manager who interviewed me said, “I understand the original was in color?” He had a B&W copy and was amazed. Obviously, it had been talked about.
At the conclusion of the interview after I had a chance to ask him questions, he said, “Those are the best questions I have heard.” I had actually
researched the company and knew their financial details. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The object is to get an interview first.
And you do that by standing out, being different enough to get noticed. You will have to do that in your own way. You need to be edgy without being a
turn off, so you can’t use flowery stationery that is perfumed. But a little color in the right place, a sense of design and creativity, a resume
that is a pleasure to look at from an aesthetic standpoint is going to get you into the “keep” pile. You want your resume to tell the story of how
competent you are.