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Thoughts on How to Get a Job

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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.

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 05:42 PM
Part 2

Now, online applications can be a bitch. Your audience just changed. It’s best if your resume can be an “attachment in Microsoft Word format” because you get to keep your versatility there, but the fact is your first audience will be a machine scanning for keywords. If you are applying for a programming position, for example, if the word C++ Is not on your resume, the eyes of a human will never see it. So, since you researched the company and now what languages they use, you say, “Although I have not had a chance to have extensive experience in C++, the fact is I know every modern scripting language used in business today, including PHP, Java, bash, Hugo, Ugli, ZOPL, and Glug (which you just happen to know they use.) So the scanner picks up “extensive experience in C++” and your resume passes that hurdle. And, yes, I do know a little ZOPL and a lot of Glug, proprietary languages of the Geac Corporation of Canada.

So the first big lesson here is that a resume’s purpose is to get you an interview, therefore it must first be grammatically perfect and presentable, and it must, some way somehow, make you stand out from the crowd. If your resume looks just like every other resume by following what the resume books say to do, you will not stand out. It also must be focused. You need to do the research to discover what the company wants. A scatter gun “I’ll apply for anything!” approach is not worth your time and effort.


The next issue relates back to the Boeing experience. Thousands of well-educated people left Seattle in the late sixties, just like people left Pittsburgh when the steel industry dried up. Ironically, Seattle has a Steelers bar. I seem to hear a lot of resistance to that, even from people living in Detroit. There are all sorts of excuses. “I can’t because” a) My parents live here and are getting old. a) My house is underwater, c) My kid wants to graduate with her friends, d) pick another one.

Those Seattle Boeing engineers left. They left houses where they even had equity. They went south and found other jobs. The same thing happened with NASA after the moon landings wound down. They left and founded start-ups which fueled the PC revolution. They were willing to change their circumstances. When I left Seattle and wound up in Georgia, of all places, 3500 miles away from home, I was so surprised to see “Help Wanted” ads in the windows of businesses. It was uncanny. I got a job in about two weeks doing what I was qualified to do. It paid $2.10 an hour, but hey! Ya gotta start somewhere.

There are areas of the country that are better off than where you are. Your job is to find them, based on your own skills and interests. The task here is to widen your horizons and realize that where you presently are is not the whole country. Act accordingly.

edit on 10/12/2012 by schuyler because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 05:44 PM

The third issue I’d like to address is one I regret I did not tackle better than I did. We all gripe, some vehemently, about corporate America. We hate it, blame it, despise it, accuse it of all manner of misdeeds. Then we turn around and say, “I can’t find a job!” We seem to have lost our ability to survive by ourselves. Let me tell you a little story.

Long time ago I was supervisor of a building complex. I hired building maintenance personnel, landscapers, and office workers, among others. I hired a guy named Minh Tran from Vietnam, a thin, reedy guy who basically pulled weeds and went to school at the local community college. He was one of the boat people who had fled Vietnam, wound up in the Philippines, and was eventually sent to the US. He was a good worker, but once n awhile I would catch him sleeping on the job. Turns out this was because he had another full time job somewhere else.

His sister managed to get to the US with a cousin by hiking across a minefield in Cambodia to Thailand where they lived in a refugee camp for two years. This one had its own zipcode. Turns out Minh had nine other family members still in Vietnam. By this time we were friends and I worked writing letters for him to Congressmen trying to get them on the “Orderly Departure Program,” something the US and Vietnam jointly did to get families back together.

Oh, it was a hassle as the years went by and a couple of the sisters got too old for the program, but finally it happened, except for one glitch, I thought. Minh had to pay for airline tickets for his nine family members to get here. He shocked me by telling me it was no problem because in the years he had been here, working menial jobs, he had saved $40,000. the airline tickets cost $30,000, so everything was okay. Minh made just over minimum wage, folks.

Now I went to SeaTac to see the family reunited. These poor people had very little with them. Their wealth was in Chinese art, black enamel with mother of pearl inlays. You must have seen them. No money. Now here’s the fun part.

Within six months they all had minimum wage jobs. They bought a brand new, if modest, house in Seattle, and divided up the bedrooms to accommodate 12 people. Minh was the main wage earner. He worked refurbishing aircraft carrier flight decks for awhile. Finally he came to me and said,

“You know, Michael, we have to do something for ourselves (By this time his English was perfect), so he bought a Pho Hoa franchise and opened a restaurant in Olympia. He hired his siblings as staff and has a going concern. I would not at all be surprised if Minh was a millionaire in a few years.

These foreigners come over here not knowing much English at all, but do you think they go on welfare, collect food stamps or unemployment? They get minimum wage jobs until they create their own, whether it is a Korean in a 7/11, a restaurant, a landscaping service. It doesn’t matter. They don’t whine about it. They make it work for themselves. They have the energy to build it themselves. And their kids? In University becoming engineers and mathematicians.

We need to rekindle that spirit of entrepreneurialship immigrants have brought to this continent for centuries. You don’t need to get a job as much as you need to make one for yourself. So get out there and do it.

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 07:04 PM
Excellent Thread!I doubt you get much attention though. I had 19 jobs including 6 years in the Navy by the time I found my dream job. After 5 years working there, the plant closed and my job went to China. Since then I have been self employed and I hope to never go back to a "job" again.

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 07:14 PM
All great advice.
To which we seem to have to add nowdays "dont have an embarrasing Facebook page".
If your potential employer does a search on the internet for you, are they going to like what they see?

And might I also add, after you get a job, dont relax and be a lazy slob. Every single place I ever worked there are people who are a complete waste of space. If the company ever needs to restructure or cut back, they're the first out the door.

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 08:54 PM

Originally posted by DarthMuerte
Excellent Thread!I doubt you get much attention though. I had 19 jobs including 6 years in the Navy by the time I found my dream job. After 5 years working there, the plant closed and my job went to China. Since then I have been self employed and I hope to never go back to a "job" again.

Good for you, Darth. I think it is being bread out of us because the gov would much rather we get a "normal" job with automatic withholding. The fact is, starting a sole propritership "Schedule C" business really isn't that hard. You got a lemon and made lemonade. Congrats!

posted on Oct, 12 2012 @ 09:01 PM

Originally posted by alfa1
All great advice.
To which we seem to have to add nowdays "dont have an embarrasing Facebook page".
If your potential employer does a search on the internet for you, are they going to like what they see?

Ain't that the truth! Yet so many people consider it their "right to post what they want." I warned my daughter about her Facebook page as she was up for a renewal of her Top Secret security clearance and all she could say was the fact that I saw it was "creepy." When I discovered how pervasive Facebook was and how they used the data, I erased my own page. You think I'm creepy wait til the gov makes a copy of it.

posted on Oct, 13 2012 @ 05:20 AM
reply to post by schuyler

I can agree with the majority of what you say, although the online experience can be a bit clinical, especially from an employers perspective. I balked from responding in that particular thread you mentioned figuring my own experience and wisdom in the field would most likely go unnoticed.

I have to say though, a lengthy and detailed resume is not always the way to go, even when you have a wealth of experience. I always looked for a kind of "greatest hits" resume when it came to experienced people, although I did hire a pile of people that it was their first job, and they had no other experience.

I tended to look for a certain "spark" both in resumes and applications, and defintely in the interview process. You get good as an employer picking the wheat from the chaff, it sounds harsh but I could usually tell in the first 40 seconds if someone I was looking at was a potential or a scratch, just by their responses and general attitude. You also got good at picking apart nervousness from nonchalance, which was also a big deciding factor.

In my opinion, and from someone who hired and fired hundreds over the course of almost 20 years, my advice is be yourself. Sure, be nervous, it's hard not to be, but employers are looking for a certain confidence and ability, and someone who will fit the bill, not neccessarily someone who has all the right credentials but lacks that "spark" an employer is looking for. Make everything you do stand out in my mind, so I remember you out of the fifty applicants I brain-drained through. Give me no doubt you are the best person that I can hire. I left many on the fence not sure if it was a good idea I should hire you when the next person walks in and has that tiny edge which gets them the job.

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