I am amused by the naive attitudes of the members of the social media site for job seekers known as LinkedIn. You’d think there is some magic formula to finding rewarding work. The pundits tell us: “Do as we say and your life will be complete. Format your resume this way… Answer interview questions that way and you will find your dream job.”
To which I reply “Baloney!” or some such dismissive retort.
Gather round, college seniors about to enter the job market. I am about to tell you how it really is.
I do strongly advise that you get dressed up for the interview. You may not see the point, but it does matter. It shows you have respect: for yourself, the company, and the position for which you are applying. Trust me on this one: dress far better than you did under your graduation gown. The interviewer is looking for a reason to reject you; don’t give him one before you even cross the threshold.
Yes, you should be positive and appear engaged during the interview. Yes, you should appear to take notes, even if you are only writing down items to pick up at the grocery store after the interview.
Still, doing these things does not mean you are a shoo-in to be hired. No, it only means that you won’t be dismissed within the first five seconds of the interview. But the sixth second? Well, that’s another matter.
You can be the absolute best candidate to ever walk into their conference room. You can be sent-from-heaven-above to save the company and become its next CEO, but that does not guarantee you anything. You can be rejected for any number of reasons. To wit:
- You look like your interviewer’s ex-spouse.
- You are wearing green and your interviewer hates that color.
- You have an extra space on you resume (somewhere between the words Rhodes and Scholar, perhaps), so how could they possibly consider you?
- The interviewer spotted a tattoo peeking out beyond your collar or shirt sleeve.
Lesson: Do your best but you are dealing with who-knows-what as you wend your way through the HR/interview maze. Rules of logic do not apply. Just make sure you don’t have any food caught in your front teeth before you go in.
The Salary and Benefits
I consider the discussion of benefits to be a well-needed comic interlude during a job interview. As they toss out the benefits associated with the job, consider this:
- Bonuses are called that because they are not–by definition–guaranteed. I once started at a company the day after the last applause-worthy bonus was paid. This was done in spite of (and no doubt contributing to) the fact that the company was losing $18 million a year. And no, they did not mention the losses in the interview, just the fact that my sub-par salary would be enhanced by the forthcoming bonuses. As I recall, my largest bonus was $57. We referred to it as the tank-of-gas bonus.
Lesson: If you don’t get the salary you want going in the door, you’re not ever going to get it.
- Paid time off. Here’s a myth that I want to dispel: Just because a company gives you a paltry two weeks’ vacation does not mean that you will be paid for two weeks that you don’t actually work. No, you will work twice as hard during the weeks preceding and following your vacation to get all your work done.
Lesson: I consider four or five weeks’ vacation to be an actual benefit. I might get a week or two to relax during that time.
- Company outings. This is one of the dumbest ideas to ever be hatched. I spend 40-60 hours a week in the office or working from home. Then, as a Thank You for all my hard work, the company wants me to climb aboard a boat with my co-workers and Management as we eat bad food and drink (well, that part might be OK) and cruise around some harbor and get home at 11:00 PM on a work night. (It’s always on a week night because it’s cheaper to charter the boat during the week.) Meanwhile, my manager has gotten drunk and is snapping the elastic on my friend’s bra as he talks to her–and I am here to tell you that HR was of absolutely no help when she reported this to them.
Lesson: How can this possibly be considered a benefit?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Lesson #1: Those days are gone. Not going to happen. You will be fired or quit. Or the company will be sold or file for bankruptcy within 5 years.
Lesson #2: Keep your resume updated. Always.
Lesson #3: Start saving on your own now. You’ll need it later.