Monday, June 20, 2005

The Extreme Job Guide

The following was inspired by a job-hunting guide I obtained from the UL Alumni Association, as well as my own experience. Presenting the official and unabridged Ian McGibboney Extreme Job Guide!

Where to look

Experts suggest signing up with a major job-search engine. Think hard about this. Do you really want to subscribe to a service whose point it is to get you to not need the service anymore?

Throughout the job hunt, you might find the following kinds of letters useful: application letters, prospecting letters and thank-you letters. These help get your foot in the door and establish rapport. Networking letters are especially good for looking like a desperate leech.

Networking, networking, networking! Sucks, sucks, sucks.

Spending lots of money at Kinko’s

Keep in mind that employers take notice of creatively written cover letters. Personnel people go through dozens of these each day, so you have to make sure your message stands out from the crowd! With that in mind, cover letters should follow a strict business-letter format, no more than two or three paragraphs long, surrounded by one-inch margins and printed on heavy white or off-white paper.

What to put on a resume: your name, contact info, education, work experience, skills and school activities. Remember how they told you in high school that you should focus on one or two things and do them well rather than joining every organization and doing nothing? Well, it works the exact opposite way in college! Isn’t that funny?

If, even after careful consideration, you find your resume lacking, just copy a sample from a resume book. Hey, it worked for Christina Applegate in “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.” And just look at her now!

In today’s technologically driven workforce, resumes are often scanned into a database wherein employers can search specific skills at the touch of a button. A list of keywords at the top of your resume will help facilitate this process. That is, if you really want to work in a place where you’re nothing more than a goddamn search term.

If you receive an acceptance letter, congratulations! Your hard work has paid off. If you receive a rejection letter, reject it.

That important first time

If you are a budding professional, chances are you’re fresh out of college. One important thing to remember is that the working world is very different from the academic setting. In college, you were probably in a relaxed and diverse setting where exchange of ideas and debate with professors and other students were encouraged. This is poor training for the business world, where bosses do not want to be challenged, ever. You do as you’re told, you dress as you’re told and don’t rock the boat. Also, there’re fewer babes. The working world sucks, which is why they have to pay you to work there.

What you wear will make all the difference for your first impression. Sure, this is even shallower than high school; but in the business world, shallowness is celebrated. Get used to it! Men should wear navy-blue suits (with or without stripes), a white shirt and a contrasting yet conservative tie. Women should wear a conservative dress or pantsuit in a tasteful pastel. Clothes should not be wrinkled or mismatched; at the same time, you don’t want to look better than the interviewer, because you don’t want to piss them off. Strike a balance.

Your interviewer might ask you a hypothetical question, such as what you would do in a specific situation. By doing this, they are attempting to gauge your ability to work in their particular setting. Your first instinct might be to offer up an innovative solution or to apply procedures in a unique way, thus showing your mettle and get-go. Don’t. This is actually a test to see how high you hold yourself up to the established hierarchy. The correct answer is, “I’m with whatever you say, boss.” Remember, you’re a fucking peon.

In a job interview, you may find yourself facing illegal questions. These include such irrelevant yet possibly influential inquiries regarding your marital status, arrest record and personal life. You have the right to refuse answering such questions as, “Are you old?” “Are you white?” and “Good God, are those real?”

Actually having a job

You might find that your new position isn’t quite what you expected, perhaps realizing that the job title overstates its actual duties. Looks like somebody’s being punished for puffing up their resume!

Management always respects someone who is prepared for any situation. Make sure they catch you searching online for a new job.

If your dream job escapes you, remember that you can always find work posing as those happy entry-level workers you see in job-hunting booklets.

9 comments:

Nick said...

Yeah, finding a job fresh out of college w/ no experience is rough. Getting an internship, which was required for my major, is even harder b/c no broker wants to bring in someone who can only work for the summer, like me since I still had a CC season left for my last semester. Usually projects in my business will last for years, w/ certian aspects lasting a minimum of a few months. Luckly, I bumped into a the president of a company at a networking cocktail party.

Lawrence LeBen does the same work as me and also had a tough time trying to find an intership, so I had him come work w/ me for a week, but I couldn't afford to pay him, only buy him lunch. But, he was able to find a job out of college.

On contrast, Chad Campbell didn't do an internship and is now having a very hard time finding a job. I actually helped set him up w/ one at Northwest Mutual, but he decided he didn't want it, and I think that may have been a mistake.

I think the time of the year also has something to do w/ it. Both Lawrence and I graduated in the fall. Chad just graduated, and I think some companies and business owners like to wait until the end of the year to help out their accounting procedures.

Then again, my whole philosophy could be wrong, but that's my 2 cents. Did you find something yet, Icon?

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick,

I have a good amount of experience already, totaling four years at various newspapers (not even counting the column and middle/high school). That includes an internship at The Daily Iberian in summer 2002, which I managed to get through pure luck. You're right, it's hard.

But I don't think it's a networking problem as much as it is an issue of career choice. You and Lawrence are engineers (right?) and are thus much better equipped for the job market here. Chad's less so, though probably more than I am. Here, it's all about nursing, oil drilling, truck driving and sales. Louisiana is a real functional state, apparently. Too bad we're surrounded by equally poor states and Texas; otherwise, I could move within a reasonable budget. Catch-22.

You may be onto something about the fall jobs, though. When I got my bachelor's in December 2002, I had two job offers. I just graduated again last month, and I think I had negative one.

The Goblin Slayer said...

I know networking can suck, Ian, but it is one of the most important aspects of job hunting. However, an occasional networking function won't cut it. You will need to keep yourself fresh in other people's minds. They need to remember you and what you are offering, this way when they speak to other colleagues who are looking for an enthusiastic writer, Ian McGibboney will jump into the conversation.

One good way to do this is to maintain a list of networking "hubs". People who have access to other people and companies. Keep them abreast of your situation by shooting them a quick note or phone call.

Remember the addage, "Outta sight, outta mind?" You need to apply the polar opposite of this addage.

Good luck and keep on digging.

Nick said...

Icon:

Lawrence and I are petroleum landmen. Our occupation revolves around being able to interpret legal documents to establish oil & gas title (the cheap labor substitute for lawyers) and negotiate mineral leases when needed. Our major was Professional Land & Resource MGMT, one of the programs UL has considered eliminating, which would be a disaster b/c it's one of the few buisness majors where someone can find a job and start off w/ a good salary. Even when the current oil & gas boom dies off, Lawrence and I are equiped to branch off into real estate if we want.

Chad is a finance major. Like I said, I think he made a mistake in not taking that job w/ Northwest Mutual. I know it wasn't exactly what he wanted to do, but it's hard enough just getting a job out of college. Also, many employers just don't understand that if we decide to be an athlete in college, that's our full time job. We don't have time for another one to gain experience, and the NCAA won't let us make a certain amount of money.

I think it also has to do with more competition. College graduates are a dime a dozen these days. Higher education is where you have to look. I was ready to go to law school, but I got lucky and enjoy what I'm doing. I basically get to work my own hrs., as long as a get stuff done, and I'm thankful for that b/c I don't know if I could have put myself through 3 more yrs. of school and then have to pay off law school loans once I got out. That would have been around a 60k loan.

This terrible outsourcing of jobs is also a big problem. I know everyone says that we are now in a global economy, but the current situation is downright ridiculous. My girfriend's step-dad is a crane operator for rigs. He's having to work 3 on 2 off in Trinidad. It's fine if people want to work overseas for more income, but he did that 10 yrs. ago and would now rather be w/ his family. I don't like NAFTA, and that and the border situation is where I can't stand Bush's philosophy. I only buy LA seafood, rice, and sugar, and I don't care if I have to pay more.

Ian McGibboney said...

Nick, you're absolutely right about college graduates being a dime a dozen. Louisiana, for one, can't get rid of them fast enough.

And that's why I went for a master's degree: because I realized that I would need something to stand out academically. But looking back, I think it actually hurt my chances in the short term. Like I said above, I had two pretty decent job-offers when I first graduated in 2002. I turned them down because I was undecided about committing to reporting. Also, I still had my track-manager scholarship (which, miraculously, kept me from ever having to take out a college loan) and I figured another degree and more columns couldn't hurt. And they haven't. But neither have they yet helped.

The problem is more mine than the state's; I knew coming in that Lafayette has always had a problem diversifying its economy (recall the dim days of 1986-87: "Will the last one out of Lafayette please turn out the lights?") And while they've taken enormous strides since then, there's only so much a city or state can do within its economic limits. And I'm just not as made for this area as petroleum workers or nurses. And I suppose many others are saying the same at the moment.

sociable_solipsist said...

So, I decided to join a national service program with what it claimed to be a stellar reputation. Teach For America even claimed that its participants would go on to make well-informed educational reforms. Their statistics showed that they even tended to get really nifty nonprofit jobs after participating PLUS the added name recognition of being part of this powerful national movement NOT TO MENTION the networking oportunities with 10,000 current and former corps members. I thought I had avoided the pickle you're eating.

Then, I finished TFA, moved to New Orleans and the only job I seem to be able to get is as a dishwasher. Where the hell are the do-gooders NOW? They're SUPPOSED to be hiring my ass. . . Good thing I've got a set of organs to harvest for next month's rent. Know of any high-paying plasma center 'round here?

Ian McGibboney said...

If nurses used dishes, there'd probably be an opening for dishwasher in Lafayette.

YatPundit said...

good stuff! the points about cover letters are important. whenever i teach MS-Word to folks, I always point out how they shouldn't use default fonts on resumes and cover letters, so that when someone looks at 10 cover letters on their desk, yours jumps out just a bit...

Ian McGibboney said...

Wow. I guess I really have lost my comic touch.