Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Job Search Article, And Why I Hate It

If there’s one thing I really can’t stand about unemployment, it’s the condescending holier-than-thou tone of job search articles. We've all read them, and can spot their well-worn formula. They start with some snooty line about how you're doing it all wrong. That's the premise of these things: "So, you thought what you're doing right now is enough to get you that job? Hah! Silly, stupid job seeker. Let me set you straight."

And that's only the beginning. Everything in your life right now, everything you are doing or have ever done, is bad for your job search. That picture of the melancholy feline you posted on Facebook last week? What's a prospective employer going to think when they see that? Or how about that tweet from two days ago - Im so hapi 2 b here pepl! Not only does this candidate waste online resources on non-fundamental core competencies, but he can't even spell!

Your resume, or resumes in general, are gifts from the employment article gods. No matter how well-written, well presented, well designed or professional-looking you think your resume is, it’s wrong. It’s stupid. You honestly thought you could catch an employer’s eye with that?

The thing is, both the writing and reading of a resume is entirely speculative – there are very few rights and wrongs. One employer might like a detailed account of your job history, while others will want a one-page bullet-pointed list. Some like left-justified text, and others feel that centered text is the way to go. Have an Objective line. Don’t waste an employer’s time with an Objective line! Keep the details of your work experience brief. How can an employer know what kind of work you did if you don’t explain it in detail? Keep every job you’ve ever had on your resume – your time at McDonald’s tells an employer you are dependable, trustworthy and a good team player. Why did you put your McDonald’s experience on your resume – are you stupid?

Any point of view on resumes can be made to seem valid, as long as you sound (or read) like you know what you’re talking about. That’s easy to fake – add a dash of arrogance to whatever you think you know, and you’re there.

And then there are articles that throw in something like this: just because there’s a recession on and the economy is bad, that’s no excuse to slack off in your job search. You just have to work harder, dig into the hidden job market to ferret out those unposted jobs. Hidden job market? Are they making this up? Unfortunately, no. Most jobs, as they’ll tell you, don’t get posted. It’s one of many reasons why job searching sucks. The article writers are right about this one, but they don’t need to be so smug about it. Yeah, maybe I am a lazy dope who hasn’t dug in and explored the options and opportunities hard enough. Or maybe there is a recession on, jobs are scarce, and I’m having fantastically bad luck!

I know, I know, making excuses won’t land me a job. And a prospective employer might read this and think, this person is leveraging his inadequacies onto a slippery slope to a non-proactive attitude! This incumbent needs to utilize his deliverables on a going-forward basis if he is desirous of achieving synergy with our company’s strategic vision. I just wish that the writers of employment articles would resist the urge to add insult to injury. We get enough of that as it is!


Phinux said...

Most of those articles are just filler noise written by online professionals looking for content to put on their website so they can keep up traffic. (Because some career coach told them they *had* to have their own branded website)

Speaking as a writer who's had a bunch of different writing jobs over the years (I'm not bragging when I say that- none of them were glamourous, some of them were pretty skeevy), IF I were to write one of those articles, here are the realities I would stick to:

- The structure/content of your resume depends on what type of job you are applying for. It's unrealistic to have a different resume for every job you apply for, but a few variations is probably fine. ie. one that lists all of your written works, one that lists only your job history, etc.

- Most companies will only post jobs on a couple of different sites (or just one), so find as many job sites as you can and bookmark a saved search, or pull all their posts into one RSS reader so you can just scroll through them every day and pull out anything good.

- There are also industry specific job sites, so depending on what you're looking for, you may have to nose around on google to see which ones are the most reputable. ie. Jeffgaulin.com is (or was) known for journalism/writing/editng jobs; mediajobsearchcanada.com has stuff relating to broadcast, interactive media, and theatre. Or just ask people which ones they use- I can send you a list if you want! (Might be slightly outdated)

- Craigslist. Both reputable and scammy companies use it. I found my job there. Requires a sucky amount of caution/descretion, but it's worth it.

- Persistence. Give yourself a daily quota of jobs to apply for. 10 crappy jobs, 5 mediocre ones, or 3 really decent ones. Laborious, but necessary.

- Don't lose hope. I got through some tough periods by one philosophy: when you get down in the dumps, send out another resume. Even if it's to the McDicks down the block. Even if you're not even that interested in it. Every thing you send out is another lotto ticket, another shot at something to better the odds. Whether you're doing it wrong or right, just keep doing it until you start getting phone calls.

This is all just stuff from my own experience, but I remember how stressful it is. I always sucked at interviews, (that's something I'd work on if I was unemployed any time soon) and I had some pretty spectacular failures with them. I kept going until I found a place that needed me and didn't care how shitty my interview skills were.

Does that help? I hope there was something useful in there. I can send you some links if you like.

Phinux said...

PS- It's Megan S. Didn't realize Google wasn't going to show my full name.

aman kesherwani said...
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Timothy Carter said...

Thank you, Megan S., for your thoughtful comments! Much appreciated.