5 Steps To Landing a Job Interview — Pay Attention!

Humor, Life Matters, Rants and Opinions 7 Comments »

My current job as an HR rep can be challenging at times. By that, I mean it’s a challenge to remain calm and have patience during the hiring phases we experience. I see a great deal of “blunders” being made by applicants, and wonder “What the hell are they thinking?” Let me put it to you straight: if you want to land an interview, you must pay attention!

1. Get an email address that makes sense. Free email is available from many sources from AOL to GOOGLE (gmail). Here is why you need a good one, and why you  must be able to access it: many HR reps simply don’t have time for the telephone. We’re busy analyzing staff, posting ads, running background checks, filing forms from here to Timbucktoo and back. We need to contact you to come in for an interview or ask a question about your application, but we can’t spend time calling you, only to receive your voicemail. When we have time, we have it. When we don’t, we can’t be bothered wasting it. So email is sometimes the best way for us to communicate with you. We use email during periods of time constraints, but we also use it to find out about you. Can you spell? Do you know how to form a clear and concise sentence that answers our question? Email is a tool we use to evaluate you.

That being said, choosing an email address which includes your name, such as RobertB@whatever.com will help us remember you. Having an email address such as SEXYGURLBICH will NOT get a response. I am not joking with you. The other day I was about to email someone with a similar address, and guess what? I did not. Although the name may have gotten a chuckle from me, I tossed that application right into the REJECT file. As a professional, I cannot even type such an address into my company’s email server. Every key stroke we make on our computers is recorded. Can you imagine if someone from my Corporate office (like the IT guys) saw that address? Not cool. Really, I’m serious here. POTHEADSRULE will also not get you an interview (unless it’s for High Times Magazine, perhaps). So step one: have a proper email account.

2. Change your voice mail message to something that is appropriate. Your two year old, singing “You Are My Sunshine” while clapping his or her hands out of beat may seem cute to you and the kid’s grandparents, but it’s annoying to the professional world. Having your 9 month old babbling on and on with uninteligible gooble-y-goo while a dog barks and then you come on and say “Hi from Mommy, Daddy, Babyboo and Fido” is just beyond frustrating, and I don’t have time to even listen to the rest of your message. Futhermore, a message saying “Hello!” and then waiting to say “Hi, I gotcha!” ?  That’s not cute either. I don’t have time for games, I’m trying to schedule interviews! Oh and lastly, “You’ve reached the Loooooovvvvveeee Master. Give me a ring later, Babe” — well, I might call you later, dude, but it’s not going to be to offer you a job with my company. If you are seriously seeking work, then seriously work on your outgoing voice mail message.

3. If your handwriting sucks, PRINT. I have to read through many applications. If I cannot read your information because I cannot make out what the heck you have scripted on the application, it all goes right into the REJECT file. I don’t have time to discipher your penmanship.

For example, I know that my handwriting is bad. I can’t even read it. Also, many people have told me so (especially those loving relatives). I try to combat that by p r i n t i n g. Even then, it is sometimes hard to read my small type. But in today’s world, many companies post their application on a website (our company does this). Pay attention to that resource, and use it to your advantage. Go online and complete the application. Print out a copy, and bring it with you to the interview. If they ask you to complete another application, you can simply hand in the one you have printed off of their website, and it will be accepted. Only use your bad penmanship when you are forced to do so (like, after you are hired, for example).

4. Pay attention to the job description and apply only for jobs that match your skill level. I know that many people are out of work and are collecting unemployment benefits. As a condition to receiving that check, you may have to show proof that you’ve actively been seeking work. So you apply for jobs that you know are not a match for you. I understand.

But I wonder why someone would take the time to write a cover letter describing the job that we posted in an ad, (clerical) and then go on to write about how he has many years of management experience and is looking for a management job? Buddy, get a grip. You aren’t going to be called for an interview. This is a CLERICAL job, as you stated yourself!

Now there are some people who, due to the economy, have lost their middle management jobs, and now have to start over. That’s fine. I’ve been there myself, so I know the deal. If that is your situation, you may want to BRIEFLY explain that in a cover letter. Otherwise, do not mention all of your management experience. If you are starting over, you are probably not going to be a manager of anything but getting yourself to work on time. You sort of have to “dumb down” as I call it. Take the blow to your ego now, accept your situation, and prepare to “WOW” them at your next job. People with great management skills will be recognized and may even quickly move up. But you have to get in the door first. Referring to yourself as a “top notch” manager when applying for a clerical position is not going to get you passed the doorway.

5.  Take care of your personal junk before applying for a job. Here is an example: the other day I received a call from an applicant who had an interview scheduled for the next day. “Do you mind if I bring my baby to the interview?” she asked. Uh, yeah, I do mind. I’m not going to sit and discuss your qualifications while a baby whines in my ear. Neither am I going to put up with your lack of attention, as you check the baby and keep placing a pacifier in her mouth. Now don’t get me wrong, I love babies. And I like Moms and Dads. But I’m not going to sit in an interview and wonder “why did she take her newborn out in this weather? or “Is that a dirty diaper I smell?” Get a babysitter. Unless you are applying for a job at Babies-R-Us, of course, and even then I wonder if they’d find that an acceptable practice.

Be prepared when you walk into an office to apply. I see so many people who just seemed to have woken up, rolled out of bed, and walked right in to apply for a job. Listen: a shower and brushing of the teeth goes a long way. (Once again, I’m not kidding here). If I am considering you for a job where you will be working closely with people, and you walk into my office smelling like you just got out of a van with Cheech and Chong (yes, I’m talking about WEED) or the splatter marks from last night’s beef and bean burrito are still on your shirt, I’m not going to hire you. Brush your darn hair, for Pete’s sake! And please, pop in a breath mint or two. Just sayin’.

Here’s another tip regarding personal things: if you have just had eye surgery and cannot see well, please don’t try to complete an application in the employer’s office. Yes, it happens, and it makes me wonder. How can I read this person’s writing on an application if even HE can’t read it? And how did this person drive himself to our office if he can’t see? And how will he get home? It makes me question this person’s decision making abilities. I actually did have some sympathy for that applicant, (it may have been the red marks I actually saw in his eye, uh, gross!) and I sent him home with the application to return to me when he had recovered and was well enough to take our pre-employment tests (one of which involves TYPING and the other, READING). 

Your personal time is yours and you can do whatever you want with it, but don’t take up mine. Find out ahead of time what the office hours are, and show up within that time frame. Coming to my office at ten minutes to five on a Friday afternoon, when I am trying to clean up my desk and start my weekend, is not going to go well for you. First of all, I will be mad that I even have to explain this to you. Secondly, if you make it passed my highly annoyed facial expression, you may get a piece of my mind that you’d rather not have known about. Thirdly, you’ve just shown me that you are not attentive to my needs, and since I may be the one who decides to hire you, ignoring my needs is never a good thing.

Now, I am sure that there are several more tips I can give you. In fact, whole books have been written on this subject. So I can’t possibly cover everything in this one blog post. But I think I’ve given you some things to consider when you are seeking employment. My best advice is this: Pay attention.

A little attention goes a long way to landing that interview. From a short and well written cover letter, to a bright and minty smile, give much attention to details. Your potential employer will appreciate the efforts and reward you with an interview. And then the fun really begins!

Throws and Blows

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I haven’t ranted in a while. Well, at least not on this blog! So my ranting muse has reared it’s head and must be heard (or rather, read). How’d you like that rhyme?

Anyway, the other day two separate pet peeves of mine were encountered. In the same day? Yes, it happens.

The first one is the idea of “throws.” You know, those things that are almost blankets, but not quite. They are those length impaired objects we are supposed to “throw” on when relaxing in a chair or on a couch. But, to me, they are just frustrating. Since I am of the shorter nature myself, you’d think that these throws would be a great thing. Contrary to that opinion, they are more of a pain in the part of my body that I sit on. They are never long enough!

I enjoy my weekend afternoon naps. I’d love a weekday afternoon nap as well, but don’t have that luxury while at my current workplace. So the other day I was looking forward to my nap. It was cold and raining and I wanted nothing more than to relax on the couch, all warm and cuddly, for a little while.

But, no. I reached up to grab the throw from the back of the couch. As I placed it over me, I struggled. When I pulled it up to my neck, my feet were exposed. If I covered my feet, my neck and chest were exposed. Back and forth I went, trying to get BOTH feet and neck under the warmth of the fleece. Soon I was so frustrated, and moving around, which is exactly what I was trying NOT to do!

My sister was studying in her chair a few feet away, somewhat oblivious to my throw dilemma. Finally I could not take it any more.

“Why don’t they make these throws longer?” I yelled. “I can’t cover my feet and my neck at the same time, and I’m short! Can’t they come up with a longer throw?”

I went on to rant “All they would have to do is to make them about three inches longer!”

My sister, finally drawn in to my struggle on the couch, offered her witty solution, ”Then they would call them a blanket.”

Hmmmph.

Not to be outdone by a piece of fabric, I finally did get the nap in. Of course I had to be rolled up in the fetal position to accomplish this, and woke with a pain in my back and neck from crouching. But with all strength and fortitude, I overcame the struggle with the throw.

And then I had to blow my nose.

This next rant isn’t against any one thing or product. It’s sort of against myself. But inevitably, every time I have to blow my nose this happens: I take a deep breath in. I mean, certainly I know that I am going to blow air out next, and so I have to be prepared to blow hard enough so that everything that should come out does come out. I know, this is a little gross for me to write about, but it’s the truth. We all do this, so lighten up a bit, will ya?

So there I was, a few minutes after rising from my wrestling match with the throw, when I needed to blow my nose. I had to open my mouth to take in the deep breath because my nose was clogged (thus the reason for blowing it in the first place). And then it happened. A large piece of the tissue got sucked into my mouth!

You’d think that after all of this time I would learn to take the breath while holding the tissue AWAY from my mouth, but no. Not me. Every darn time I have to blow my nose I get a huge piece of Kleenex in my mouth! There is nothing more frustrating than having a huge wad of tissue stuck to your lips, except when it actually touches your tongue or the roof of your mouth and then…. well, you get the picture. I’m left choking, gagging, and telling myself “this is gross” before every blow. Not good.

I’m wondering if this is could all be related to words that end in “ows.” I don’t seem to have any issues with cows, although I don’t spend much time around them. And I actually like rows, because they keep everything in order. So I guess that’s not it.

One day I may figure this all out. But in the meantime, I’d really like to find a five foot, 6 inch throw. And then I could work on the mouth and nose dilemma in peace.

Over the Rainbow Restaurant on New Year’s Eve

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Last night, New Year’s Eve, we had reservations to have dinner at Over The Rainbow Restaurant, in Pittsfield, MA. We had not been to the restaurant since new owners took over, and it was my birthday, so we thought we’d give it a try. It was a disaster. Our reservations, for ten people, were for 7:00 pm. We arrived shortly after 7 and were told that there was another party going on in the room and that they were running a little behind schedule.

It was a very busy night, being New Year’s Eve, and there is very little waiting area available, so the hostess suggested we wait in the lounge. The lounge had a few high top tables and the bar in it, so we chose one of the tables. It took us several minutes to be waited on for beverages, as the bartender was also filling dining room table orders.

My cousin and her husband joined us, as well as their two teenagers. I didn’t think it was appropriate that we had to wait in the bar with the teens, as our table was still not ready. Soon all of our party had joined us in the bar, where drink prices were raised for the evening.

Time went on and still no word about our table being ready. I opened up my birthday presents (yay) and we continued to have drinks while waiting for the table, but were getting more hungry every minute. The hostess never came into the bar to update us on the status of our reservation. Three times someone in our party had to go and request an update, only to be told that the other party was still “lingering.”

As most of my readers know, I have been in the food-service business. I’ve worked a few New Year’s Eve dinner hours, and can tell you that it is generally a frantic pace to keep up with. But the management at the Rainbow restaurant was either inexperienced, or trying to keep up and failing, or simply just didn’t care about the customers. It was a fiasco as far as I was concerned.

When my sister called to make the reservations, the manager told her that they were going to take a few things off of the menu that took a long time to cook, but that the menu would basically be the same as their regular one. This was not the case. There was a one page printed menu which was very limited. After comparing the prices to the regular menu we discovered that the prices were raised an average of $ 10 per entree! (Veal parm, regularly $ 18, was listed as $ 28 on the limited menu). That’s a 55 % increase! Add the tax and tip to that increase and it makes it almost 58%!

Finally, after waiting almost one and a half hours, we were done. We had paid well over $ 120 in a bar bill while waiting for a table and still no one came to inform us as to what was going on!

Some of us walked outside and began calling 411 for numbers of other restaurants in the area, but of course by that time, they were filled to capacity. Ten hungry people were becoming angry now.

We decided to order Chinese take out and go back to my cousin’s home for the remainder of the night. The Over The Rainbow restaurant lost out on our potential $ 400 dinner bill because of their poor management and inexperienced hostess.

We ended up paying $ 125 for the Chinese food (well, not me since it was my birthday!). At my cousin’s we enjoyed our dinner, played a board game, had birthday cake, rang in the new year AND had leftovers to take home. A much better deal, I’d say, than waiting for a table for two hours, getting slammed with a 55 % increase and ordering from a limited menu.

The restaurant business is a tough one. You have to know how to treat your customers. The management at the Over the Rainbow restaurant took advantage of us. That’s poor service. It doesn’t matter to us how good the food is, we won’t be going back for a long while.

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