So, I’m hiring.
No, not at Pajiba — no room in this cage for another monkey at the moment. I’m hiring at my regular day job, the one that keeps the lights on at my house and keeps my kid’s belly full of fruit snacks and grape tomatoes. It has been — as it always is, whenever I cast a net for resumes — an experience that is simultaneously fascinating, frustrating, baffling, infuriating, and absolutely fucking hilarious.
Because, people. We need to talk about how you find a job. These are hard times, truly. I get that. And as such, one hopes that if your need to work is genuine, that your effort in finding work would be genuine as well. My experience is currently telling me that this is not the case. So I thought I would try to be helpful! To provide some basic tips on how to apply for a job, how to put together a resume, how to present yourself professionally, and basically, how to not be a fucking moron. There are rules to this process. Important ones, and by following them, you give yourself a fighter’s chance of separating yourself from the pack.
These tips are all culled from my own personal experiences. Your mileage may vary, and of course, the process can be very different depending on the industry you’re trying to work in. Any success you find after reading these are directly attributable to me and me alone, and you owe me cupcakes and alcohol. Any failures are strictly your fault.
Without further ado, The Pajiba Guide To How To Find A Job.
Part I: The Resume
1. Check your spelling. Folks, I cannot emphasize this enough. This is the 21st goddamn century. You know what I think when I get a resume with a typo? I think that this is a person who doesn’t know how to use even the most basic functions of Microsoft fucking Word. If you can’t spell check, I’m not 100% certain you can even walk upright. Also, I highly recommend getting someone you trust — someone without a drug habit and who can consistently put their shoes on the right feet — to proofread it.
2) Include all relevant contact info. Home phone, cell phone, email. Your name. I received a resume last week that did not have the person’s name on it. I mean, I just … what?
3) Keep it neat and well-organized. Clearly divide it into sections. Do NOT, if you can avoid it, paste it into an email, as that will fuck the formatting into high heaven and I will tell you straight up right now, after the 75th straight resume, the ones that aren’t well-designed and easy to read? They are the ones that are likely to get skipped because I’m now just scanning for buzzwords and thinking about tacos.
To be fair, I’m always thinking about tacos.
4) Step away from the thesaurus. I understand. There are only so many ways to say “excellent,” “skilled,” or “strong.” It’s cool if you need to look up other words for those types of adjectives. But when you start typing your resume in olde English, or when your language gets too flowery or hyperbolic, it starts to feel insincere and obsequious. Smart, well-constructed, concise sentences describing your experiences.
5) Make shit up. No, I don’t mean tell me that you designed a functioning jetpack or that you invented plates. But don’t be afraid to talk yourself up, maybe even exaggerate a little. This is your first — and potentially only — chance to impress someone. So make it count. Don’t get ridiculous, but don’t be afraid to sell yourself. The saddest resumes are the ones that say “October-March: Sales Assistant. Responsibilities: Assisted in sales, worked with computer, sighed a lot.” Don’t be boring, even if you’re fucking boring.
6) Nobody gives a shit about any of the following: where you went to high school, your hobbies, your interests, your family, your pets, any sports you once played or currently play, your interests in movies (yup), music, books, basket weaving, interpretive masturbation, or cooking. It’s not going to hurt you — mostly — but no one cares. Use that space to give a list of skills instead (I always appreciate two columns or lists, one of personal skills, one of technical). But don’t tell me about your love of gardening unless I’m hiring a fucking landscaper.
7) Cover letters: these are tricky. Some people don’t bother with them anymore. I like them, particularly for positions where where you’ll be expected to do some writing, be it memos or essays. I’d say do one, but keep it brief. Highlight a couple of skills that are relevant to the job, say thanks and move on to the resume. Don’t use a form letter — we can tell when you do. Cater each one to the particular job, and use it as a chance to sell yourself quickly and effectively. And take it easy on the hyperbole. Don’t tell me you’re “delighted to apply for this amazing opportunity” when you’re applying to answer complaint calls at a box factory. Don’t sound dejected, but don’t shit a shitter, either.
Part II: The Phone Call
Congratulations, you’re not fucking boring. So they’re calling you. Here’s how to not come off like an asshole:
1) Answer the phone like a goddamn adult. If you’re applying for jobs, treat every unknown phone call like a possible interview call. That means don’t answer by saying “yo” or “yeah?” Don’t mumble, don’t bark, don’t sound bored or annoyed, even if you’re bored or annoyed. Sound like you’re interested in whoever is calling. And say thank you, for the love of god. What were you, raised by goddamn wolves?
2) Speak like a goddamn adult. Try not to say “huh,” “yeah,” or “uh huh” and — while I know it’s hard for my generation and the ones after it — try to avoid the plague of “like” that we often succumb to. Also, stop doing whatever you were doing — driving, cooking dinner, touching your dirty bits, whatever, and pay attention to the caller. If you don’t have time to give your complete attention, send that shit to voice mail. And then for the love of god, call them back in a reasonable amount of time (same day if at all possible, if not, first thing the next morning).
3) Make sure you ask who you’ll be meeting with, so you can plan a little.
4) There’s a new trend wherein candidates ask callers to email them to confirm the appointment. I don’t know how I feel about this — I feel like the interviewer shouldn’t be asked to jump through any hoops, and it sounds like you’re too lazy to write shit down. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but personally, I’m against it. Employers’ mileage may vary. So do this at your own risk.
5) Don’t reschedule. If it is at all possible, do not reschedule once it’s been set. It’s a huge inconvenience for the employer, and it makes it sound like, well, like you have something better to do. That may well be true, but you want them to think that your interview is of some value. So unless something life-threatening happens, try your best to stick to the date and time.
Part III: The Interview
Hey, you made it. Here’s how to not look like Ruprecht the Monkey Boy.
1) Show up. This seems elementary, but for inexplicable reasons, it is not. I have had three interview no-call/no-shows, which demonstrates a staggering lack of class, ethics, and basic humanity. If there is some sort of emergency, call as soon as humanly possible. I recently had an applicant miss her appointment because she said the train broke down. But she didn’t tell me this until the next day. This is unacceptable. It makes you seem like an asshole, and no one wants to hire an asshole. Except for Dustin, who keeps me around only because he refuses to acknowledge his mistake. If you fail to show up and don’t even bother to call, you should be sent back to the womb for a redo.
2) Remember these things: firm handshake, eye contact, say the person’s name. First impressions and all that crap. Also, remember the “speak like an adult” part from Part II? Still applies.
3) Don’t babble. Interviewers have questions and they’re looking for key bits of information, but they don’t want you to prattle on endlessly. Be thorough, but don’t take too long. Put it this way: there is a difference between letting them ask you questions and giving them the information that they want, and giving them the information that you think that they want. When you do the latter, it’s annoying, and it feels like you’re hijacking the process. So let them guide you through the interview. If they don’t ask about something that you think is important? Guess what — it’s not that important (to them at least). Also, try not to interrupt the interviewer.
4) Of course, then there’s the other side of the coin. If I ask you if you have any experience with something, do not say “yes” and then stare at me like a mule that just took a bat to the back of the head. Expound. Elucidate. Explain. English, motherfucker, do you speak it? Tell me why. Make me like you. Shit, make me love you. Not to beat a dead hobo, but — don’t be boring.
5) Do not badmouth your prior employers. I don’t care if you worked for that group of dudes who tortured people for sport in Hostel. I don’t care if they beat you with canes daily because of your deodorant choice. Doesn’t matter. Just… try to avoid complaining in general, about anything. I don’t want to hear you bitch — there’ll be plenty of time for that once you work for me. Most employers — and especially HR managers — listen to people complain all fucking day. Don’t make me sit through it during an interview.
6) Bring tacos.