Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Job Hunting Frustrations

I'm pretty discouraged about finding decent work lately. It seems that recruiters, who have absolute power in the hiring arena these days, hold prospective employees to a standard higher than even they can achieve.

Case in point: I had my resume critiqued by a resume company. They offered some free resume tips and promoted their resume upgrading service for $200. I thought that the tips were useful so I decided to explore their site a bit. I began to read entries, from recruiters, which answered an inquiry about pet peeves in dealing with prospective employees.

  • "...mispelled words..." Um, misspelled is spelled "misspelled"...
  • "...bad grammer/use of the language..." Ok, so I guess if you don't complain about spelling, you can safely misspell "grammar", but don't go on to say, "...I have applicants that always..." It's "who", i.e. applicants who always...
  • "...typos, etc." Well, OK, we should all know how to check for our typos, however, be sure that your company home page doesn't have typos or misspellings. I recently interviewed for a company who requested a writing sample because the boss was 'very precise' when it came to written work. I wondered just how precise he was when I noticed that they had a misspelled (or typo'd) word on their home page. I'm pretty confident that, by pointing this out, I lost the job.
The answers seemed sincere enough, but I had to wonder how they felt they had the right to judge so harshly when they themselves had fallen victim to the very issues for which they would reject a serious, potential employee.
The pendulum has swung to far in the direction of perfection (or judgement based on someone's perception of perfection). An interview used to be an opportunity to judge a person's appearance, demeanor, and qualifications. It's become an exercise in trying to impress whatever recruiter you happen to be in front of. What qualities are employers giving up to hire only employees who can successfully conform to the judgments of these recruiters? What used to be an exercise in explaining a work history is now an exercise in jumping through arbitrary hoops of each and every employer's recruiting standards.
So, I've decided to compose the "Pet Peeves of Potential Employees" list in response and out of frustration and, quite honestly, disgust. Here it is:
  • Please don't ask me to interview if you aren't looking for an employee. I'm a serious employee looking for work. Don't waste my time.
  • Please don't sit at the interview and invite me to call you with any questions that I may think of and then totally ignore my contact. First of all, that's rude. If I had been that rude to you, you never would have given me an interview to begin with. Secondly, I may have questions because I was interested in the company, what it had to offer, or needed more details to decide if I was seriously interested in the position long-term. Let's face it, your time may be important, but so is mine. I'm not going to waste either if I'm not interested in staying in the position long-term.
  • Please don't hire me, put me through orientation, let me get started on my job and then try to change the rules. You saw my nose ring, goatee, tattoo, capri pants, or whatever it is that is annoying you today, in the interview or the days following my employment. You knew I wore capris or a several times in the first month I was here. Don't change the rules in the middle of the game; or, if you do, give me a chance to conform or bow out. A gentle reminder after the dress code is given is fine, but give the code during the interview so that I know if I even want to work for you under your conditions.
  • Please don't tell me that I have all of the skills to competently fill a position and then never get in touch with me again. You want me to do a job. Can I do it? If yes, and I meet your other requirements (for personality and appearance, for example), I should have a new job.
  • If you find or hear something negative when you are researching my history, please pay me the courtesy of letting me know so that I can dispute or clear up any information that I feel is inaccurate. Believe it or not, former employers can have an agenda of their own and there are laws in place to protect employees from having their character or work history maligned by such an employer. I may need to react to protect my excellent job history.
  • Please don't expect me to be bowled over by a minimum wage position. Don't humiliate yourself or condescend to me by asking me what I have to offer the company or where I see myself in 5 years. It's a minimum wage job; I'm offering that I'll show up every day and, in 5 years, I see myself out of it and making a living wage somewhere else. I've asked for a job, you can give it to me or not. You don't own me. It's a job.
  • Please don't ask me a question that requires a personal opinion and then mentally penalize me when my opinion doesn't line up with yours. I'm a professional and my personal opinions won't impact my ability to do the job; if they will, I won't accept the job, anyway. An interview isn't the place to see how I feel about politics or my haircolor or my last vacation so please don't ask.
  • Please remember that you are representing a company and, often, an individual within that company. If you say that you'll call, please call. If you say that a decision will be made by a certain time, please inform me of the decision. If you do not have the final decision, please let me know that. I'd like to know that, if you are only relating your impressions to the person who is deciding, that you are relating accurate information. To be honest, I'd prefer to meet my potential boss; we may or may not get along. This may sound redundant, but the expectations of common courtesy bear repeating; especially if this is the litmus by which you are testing me.
  • In previous jobs I've been humiliated, beaten down, put down, made fun of, laughed at, sabotaged, embarrassed, screwed over, injured, scolded, cautioned, reigned in, condescended to, talked about behind my back, excluded, used, judged, and I'm still here to try to work for you. Don't expect miracles; just expect me to do a good job and to get along with my coworkers; no matter how imperfect, ignorant, or rude they may be.
I've left a few typos, syntax errors, and misspellings in this post. It's intentional; just to keep potential employers on their toes. Don't even try to hire me if you can't identify them.

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