Tag Archives: looking for a job

Why Do You have to Give Up So much Information to Apply for a Job?

I have been looking for a job for a while now. One of the things that bugs me is you are required to give up so much personal information at the beginning of the process. Why? Why do you need to furnish 3 references when the employer has not even met you? Why do they need your social security number and you are not filling out a W2? Why do they  always have the optional page that asks for gender and race, and if you opt not to fill it out does it count against you? Why do you have to set up an account to apply? I guess it is just the cost of looking for employment in 2010. It still bugs me though.

15% of African-Americans Are Unemployed, and Today I Became One of Them

Everyday you hear of companies laying off workers. You see the faces and listen with compassion as you hear the stories. It affects you, but it does not really become personal until it becomes personal and today for me it became just that. I lost my job today but it was not as if I did not see it coming. I think I saw the tide turning months ago but I did not want to see it. I wanted to just hope against hope that things would miraculously change. As I was packing up my desk I thought of the book Who Move My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. In it the author uses two mice and two little people to illustrate the point as they scurry around looking for cheese. Cheese could symbolize anything in your life. They had been used to getting the cheese from one particular place and it had simply disappeared, but the reality was it had been dwindling for a long time, but they refused to see it. So once it was gone they had a decision to make. Did they sit and gripe or start looking for more cheese in other places. At this point I am still taking it all in. I have not started looking for more cheese, but I know I will eventually have to, and I also know that sitting and griping is not an option for me. The first thing I will do is re-read the book, and over the next few days I will develop a strategy. Today I am one of the unemployed, but that is not a definition I wish to have for long.

PS If you know of anyone looking for a writer let me know!!!!!

Pick Me: 20 things that Happened to Me On My Way to the Perfect Job

I wrote this article about 7 years ago. I was looking for a job and I finally found one,  but in light of the record unemployment level maybe it can inspire someone who is looking for the perfect job or in 2009 a job!

Looking for a job these days is an adventure. You never know what you will find or where you will find it. Conventional methods don’t work anymore; you have to be creative and tenacious. Because the job market is tougher than ever you must develop thick skin and not take rejection personally, which is easier said than done. To keep my sanity in this process I started writing down my experiences. My hope is that you will read them and be encouraged and in some cases amused. Here are 20 things that happened to me on my way to the perfect job.

1. THE ABSENT INTERVIEWER. I arrived for an interview and the interviewer was not there. The secretary asked me with a straight face, “Did she know you were coming?” I wanted to say, “No I just showed up on my own in my best interview suit to look at you.” Instead, I replied, “Yes she knew I was coming; she scheduled the time.” The secretary gave me the cynical smile of the employed as she appeared to be thinking, “What a loser.” Finally, after I had waited for about 45 minutes, the interviewer arrived and said, “I am sorry. I am running late; we are going to have to cut this short.” All, I could do was smile.

2. SECURITY BREACH. I showed up for an interview and could not get into the building in these post 9/11 days of heightened security, employers are serious about protecting their employees. So I wandered around the entire building trying to find a guard or a phone so that I could make my 10 o’clock appointment. l began to perspire and realized that my deodorant would soon begin to fail me. Finally, like a lighthouse in a storm, I spot a deliveryman who let me in. Once in the office, the receptionist asked me if I had any problems finding the place. I said no, but told her I had a hard time getting in the building. She said “Oh we have a code, somebody should have given it to you.” You think!

3. THE BIG PAYBACK. I arrived at an interview and the interviewer asked me if I remembered him. I said no and he informed me that I interviewed him for a job 2 years ago that he did not get. At this point, I know this is an exercise in futility. Do I stay or do I go? I elected to stay in the interest of professionalism, but you know what they say about payback.

4. ID, EGO, AND THE INTERVIEWER. One interviewer could not stop talking about himself. I mean, this guy put the “e” in ego. He told me where he went to school, how long he has been with the company, every promotion he has gotten, how everyone is jealous of him, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. After a seeming eternity of him droning on and on, he asked me to tell him something about myself. As soon as I start talking, this reminds him of another story. Finally, I realized that he did not want to interview me, he just wanted some company.

5. JUDGE JONI. I was offered a job and the contact person said she would call back in a few days. I did not hear from her and I had given my notice at my job. About a week later, a Vice president calls and tells me the person who interviewed me was fired and told me the name of my new boss. The next week, the new boss calls and asks me to come in to meet him. I go and am interviewed for the job that I already accepted. I eventually took the job, and later the boss said the “post interview” was for him to decide if he still wanted to hire me. I informed him of a little something called “detrimental reliance”. I relied on their promise to my detriment, and if they had rescinded we would have been having our next dialogue in court. Who said that year of law school was a complete waste. Not I!

6. THE HUMAN RESOURCE. At a local brokerage firm, I interviewed with a Human Resources representative. The following day I wrote her the requisite thank you email and asked her a question in that email. She did not respond. I sent her another email the following week; again, no response. I called and left her a voice mail…still, no response. At this point I knew I wasn’t being considered for the position but I was annoyed that my messages were being ignored. I sent one last email and made reference to the two previous emails and the voice mail. See my mistake was that I believed that the Human Resources Department was truly a resource to humans. I now know that is not the case. She finally responded and said she had been too busy to answer any of my inquiries. I was so sorry I bothered her.

7. REPLIES WITH NO RESUME WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED. If I don’t send you a resume, you will not even consider me for most jobs. Yet, one interviewer clearly had not read my resume prior to my interview. Now as a serious job seeker, when I get an interview I immediately go to the company’s website and get all the information that I can on the company. I prepare because this is an important meeting. Nothing is as disheartening as finding that an interviewer has not even read your resume. It really showed me that my time was not valued and made me wonder just how much they valued the position.

8. THE SWITCHBOARD. On one of my excursions, the interviewer kept taking phone calls during the interview. It is understandable that an interviewer might have to take one or two calls during an interview, but I think five is a little excessive. Some were obviously business-related, but at least two were personal and he kept saying, “I’m interviewing; I’ll have to call you back!” Every time he hung up he would say, “Now where were we?” I would just smile and continue where I left off. When he received the fifth call, I excused myself because I realized I was wasting my time.

9. PLEASE WASTE MY TIME. I received a call from a person I had already interviewed with who informed me that there was one other person she wanted me to meet. The twist was that the interview would be at a local coffee shop. Because first impressions are lasting impressions, I arrived about 5 minutes early on the day of the interview because I did not want to keep the interviewer waiting. Thirty minutes later, I found myself still happy for the opportunity and smiling at every man who walked through the door, I was scared someone might think I was a bit too friendly, but I wanted to be a cheerful interviewee. Finally, one of the coffee shop workers asked me if I was waiting for an interview. I said yes and told her my name she told me there was a phone call for me. The interviewer was on the phone saying he was tied up in traffic. He casually said that it would take him another thirty minutes to get there and decided that we should reschedule. If you believe that he ever rescheduled, I’ve got some swampland I would like to sell you.

10. THE CREATIVE CALL BACK. Did you get your rejection letter yet? A Human Resources representative called one day to ask me if I had received a rejection letter from her company. Even as thick as my skin has become, I felt that calling to twist the knife in my back was a little over the top. It’s like saying, “We really, really don’t want you.” I told her that I had not received it and she told me to ignore it when I got it. They wanted me to interview for another position. Note to Interviewer: don’t send the letters out until you are absolutely certain that you are done with the candidate. I do however, have to give them points for even sending a letter; most companies cease communication and subscribe to the philosophy that you’ll figure it out.

11. THE SILENT PARTNER. The two party interview. There are two people seated at the conference table. The person that made the initial contact and that person’s boss. The interview begins and the boss asks all the questions. The other person just writes feverishly. It seems like he is trying to take shorthand (like a court reporter) and record every single word. At one point he asks one question. And that is “can you repeat that”. I feel like I am in court, and to some degree I am. (If an interviewer does not talk is he really in the room?) In reality they are the judge and the jury and that makes me the victim. The interview is finally over, and I leave the boss and the mute and wonder what will be the verdict.

12. COOKIE CUTTER QUESTIONS. What do you want to be doing 5 to 10 years from now? Where do you want to be? This is a perfect question for somebody 21 or even 31, but put a different spin on the 40 something applicant. Where do I want to be not here! I re-phrased the question and told the interviewer where I wanted to be in the next 3 years. It is ok to tailor some of the questions specifically to the applicant, it is LEGAL.

13. HEADHUNTERS…WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR…ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. A couple of months ago I answered an online ad and got a call from a headhunter. She invited me to come down and discuss the position. I go downtown on the train in the midst of a mini-snowstorm. I get there and she says there really isn’t a job yet. They posted the ad to see what kind of applicants were out there but now that we have met you we can put your resume on file. So now I know this was just a fishing expedition and I am just another guppie caught in the net. I have got two words for headhunters—USE LESS.

14. PRESTO CHANGO. Job title changes before my very eyes. I submitted a resume for marketing director and I get called in for the interview. I sit for 30 minutes waiting and the interviewer comes out and says the previous interview ran long. I go into the conference room and she proceeds to talk to me about a coordinator position. She does not miss a beat, finally I stop her and say I came here for the director position, and she smiles and says oh yes that one is open too but we feel you might fit better in our coordinator spot. The puzzling thing is she reviewed my resume and called me in for the director position I don’t have to wonder what changed. It is clear as black and white.

15. BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL. How much did you make at your last job? This is a question that used to be asked on the second interview, but now it is being asked on the first interview. This could be a true deal breaker. When I answer I usually get one of the following responses. You have got to be kidding, the why would you leave look or the you are a big fat liar look. This question can change the course of an interview. The interesting thing is I sometimes found myself sounding like the blue light special at Kmart when I put myself on sale. Yes I was making such and such but you can get me for the low, low price of such and such. This is truly a tough market.

16. OPERATION FORMER EMPLOYER. They ask you a lot of questions about your former employer. This is the fact-finding mission. Early on in the interview you realize you were invited in so they could pump you for information regarding your former employer. You are being interviewed alright but it is not for a job!

17. CLUELESS…A NEW REALITY SHOW. You meet the person that the company is looking to replace and he is clueless. I am sitting in the receptionist area waiting to be interviewed. This amicable looking guy walks by and starts a conversation with the receptionist. He smiles at me and asks me if I am there for an interview. He tells me that he is the copy director at that moment the HR rep comes and escorts me to a conference room and it dawns on me that I am there to interview for that guy’s job. As a person I feel sorry for the poor smuck, but as a person who has been unemployed for months I want this job. As Big Papa said to my mom 50 years ago it is a cold world.

18. THE MYSTERIOUS INTERNAL CANDIDATE. I submitted a resume to this company one Monday morning. Later that morning they responded that I looked like I would be the perfect fit for their position. They wanted to fill the spot quickly so could I come the next day because all the decision-makers would be there. I went the following day interviewed with 3 people. There was initially such a sense of urgency. The interviews went well. Over the next 4 weeks I exchanged emails with the contact person. Each one reassuring me that I was one of the top candidates. Finally, she had me meet the last bigwig at the coffee shop (see #9). He does not show. I contact her the next week to reschedule. Finally, on the fourth week she tells me they have a internal candidate who just surfaced and they are going with her. I don’t know where this person was hiding over the past 4 weeks since most companies look inside before they look outside, but not this time. What’s a candidate to do? That’s easy you just keep looking.

19. CATCH-22. Interview suit is too tight. When you are home for an extensive period of time you start snacking a little too much. You don’t realize the damage you have done until you have to squeeze into the dreaded INTERVIEW SUIT. On my last interview I managed to do my greatest contortionist moves and wiggle my way into it, but I knew I couldn’t laugh or sneeze or I would explode and trust me that would not be a pretty sight. I walked in with confidence and prayed that the seams would at least last through our introductions. Note to self: the treadmill is not a hanger.

20. DIVINE INTERVENTION. Mommy you need a job. Every morning we pray before the kids go to school and before my husband goes to work. One day I asked the kids to ask God for one thing. My six year old daughter Alicia said, “God, please give my Mommy a job. Amen to that but I would only add give Mommy the perfect job.