Archive | September, 2010

Awash in Resumes

30 Sep

I send digital resumes.

Or more precisely, I send a link to my resume for download. I do not usually attach resumes to emails or print physical copies for people.

This allows me to customize my resume repeatedly, tailoring a version for the various jobs I am applying for. This is important because I look to highlight particular experiences of mine that fit most closely with the position I am applying for.

So when I walked in to an interview recently, I was surprised when my interviewers all had the wrong version of my resume. Instead of having the finely crafted, cropped, and edited version, they had a life history of mine in three pages, instead of a typical one. Everything from my theatre experiences to teaching environmental science to 5th graders was on there.

It turns out, they sniffed out the longer resume that I usually use as the starting place to craft the shorter, tailored resumes. Pharumph.

But then during the interview, one of the interviewers asked me about theatre and education — not exactly on the interview agenda. Another interviewer asked about my experiences in China, Chinese — also not on the list of relevant experiences for the job.

So it was a wash. I maybe lost points for having a incomprehensible and nearly incoherent resume filled with a typical liberal artist’s smattering of experiences. I maybe won points for having varied interests and a liberal arts background.


Fun and Interviews: the casual questions

29 Sep

It’s a casual question: what do you do for fun online? Um… write a blog like this. Read Twitter? Watch videos on YouTube?

I had an interview this past week and it was not all the difficult questions that tripped me up. It was a question that was so simple: what do you do for fun online?

You think it’s an easy question until you start answering it. It’s a question that you can easily over-analyze because you don’t know the intent of the question. Is it to gauge what kind of employee you’ll be? Is it to gauge if you’ll be goofing off at work? Is it to gauge if you’re a better consumer or producer of media?

No, the purpose in this case was to get an idea of my media habits. My interviewer’s intent was to understand whether I was a cutting edge media user or not. Of course, I learned this after bumbling my way through the question a total of three times with three different people.

So how do you handle questions where you do not understand fully the intent of the question?

I’m not sure. But if I were to do it over, I’d answer a question with a question: why do you ask? Then maybe you can get your interviewer to elaborate on why they are asking the question.

Then again, that might go counter to another to a piece of interviewers advice I got recently: be honest, be confident.

Power To The Press!

28 Sep

I feel powerful.

People who would never before give me the time of day (think every terrible networking phone call you’ve ever made) now scramble to answer my emails. Doctors, publicists, dancers, club owners, event organizers … they all line up to take my calls. All because I am a member of the press.

I feel powerful, and it feels good. I could want to lampoon them, and these people would still answer all my questions. I own their fifteen minutes.

Work is about the only place I feel powerful in this city.  The taxis honk angrily as I (legally) cross the street. The pedestrians brush past my elbows without comment, intent on their destinations. The baristas joke amongst themselves when I try to order. Its a city designed to feel anonymous, encompassing, a city designed to make me feel small.

So I relish my work-time power over the business owners and small time celebrities, just as they relish their power over me once I leave the office. It’s a heady drug and a vicious cycle, with me stuck in the middle.

(Official apology for this not being entirely job-hunt related. In true New York form, get over it.)

Adventures in Networking: Why This is Awkward

25 Sep

I apparently have a huge alumni network that I can access online (called MiddNet).  What are they there for?  Networking.  But why should I network with them?  And are there, say, any guidelines for what we should discuss?  Too bad there isn’t a special career-focused website that has all these answers.  Oh wait, no, nevermind, there’s TONS, including my school’s career section, which is where I pulled the following.

Why Network?

1. 60-80% of job seekers secure employment by using networking-generated references to uncover the “hidden job market.”

Guidelines for contacting MiddNet advisors:

1. MiddNet is NOT to be used to solicit employment or job openings, internships, housing, funds, sales or business opportunities. Do not ask Middnet volunteer advisors to find a job or internship for you, or to arrange a job interview for you.

2. MiddNet is to be used ONLY to seek advice and career information. It is appropriate to ask MiddNet advisors for advice on: networking strategies; strategies for how to conduct a job/internship search; information about a career field or industry area; or to request an informational (networking) interview.

And This Leads To…

Having internalized these contradictory facts and rules, my typical networking conversations tend to boil down to this:

“So how did you get your first job?’

“Through networking.”

(awkward pause in which you both contemplate the true purpose of this phone call)

“Um, and how did you do that?  I mean, what ‘strategies’ did you use?”

“Pretty much what you’re doing right now.”




24 Sep

Yet Another Job, But Not The Right OneToday I was accepted!

Today I was accepted to a babysitting firm (as one of the TOP babysitters in the city, they assured me).

Today I was accepted to a tutoring company (“out of thousands of applicants” … um, I call BS).

Today I spent three delightful hours wandering around central park with an old friend from my Israel days, but that’s not the point.

My point is: what do you do when the jobs you get to fill the time might interfere with future, amazing, real life job opportunities?  I have an interview with a PR firm in two weeks, but my tutoring friends want me to be fingerprinted and start working NOW.

I’m stuck between wanting money and wanting flexibility.  Do I stall?  Do I just hold my breath and pick one, hoping that some fairy dust and optimism will ensure it all works out in the end?  Picking one job is easy, but picking four?  Making sure each of them feels like the only one?  I’m a cheating partner, a job-hungry hussy.  I’ve got so many irons in the fire (what does that expression mean anyway?) that I’m having trouble making sure they all come out a perfect medium rare.  I fear some may have burt to a crisp.  And nobody wants a burnt, crispy iron.  They are just too hard to clean.

It’s a balancing act, and I was never very good at keeping my footing under regular circumstances.  May gravity not tear me down until I’ve got a nice feather bed of a permanent solution figured out.  Or at least one of those single-use blow-up numbers stunt doubles use in the movies.

The Handy Guide to Email Rejection

23 Sep

Thank you for being a friend, ladies.

Do you leave a trail of Mallomar wrappers wherever you go?  Do your clothes fail “the sniff test,” but you shrug and wear them anyway?  Is there an indentation in your couch in the shape of your ass, caused by watching Golden Girls reruns and hoping that Betty White isn’t next to die?

If you answered “YES!” to any of these questions, it sounds like you need a nice jog and a good shower.  Then you can properly begin your job search, because honestly, anyone who eats chocolate marshmallows, has a blatant disregard for personal odor and hygeine, and watches the televised tribulations of geriatrics as much as you do probably doesn’t have much else going on from 9:00-5:00 everyday.  Yeah, you’re unemployed.

Before you set off on your job search, you should know that it’s not going to be easy.  People are going to decline your polite requests for gainful employment.  And you’d be surprised at all the different shapes and sizes that a “NO” can come in.  But I’m here to help.

I’ve created The Handy Guide to Email Rejection for your education and empowerment.  Read my rejection letters, and use them as practice to steel yourself against your own future rejections.  Use them to read the true significance behind the writer’s words.  These emails may all sound the same, but the meaning can be totally different.

Check out these examples:

1) The “You’re Absolutely Not What We Had in Mind, and Meeting You Has Confirmed This” Rejection

It makes me feel weird that after they interviewed me, they totally changed the nature of the job.  Was I that horrid?  Still, they’re pretty blunt about my apparent lack of qualifications, besides being, you know, really nice.

While we felt you had a great deal you could offer the position (namely, enthusiasm, warmth and organizational skills), we have interviewed many people who have more experiences in some other arenas and we have decided that we want the role to encompass more of an external focus.  We’ve been interviewing a lot of people for the position and have decided to go in a different direction with another candidate at this time.

2) The “If Only You Applied Earlier!” Rejection

These are at once encouraging and frustrating.  They liked me!  But graaaaaah!  But maybe later?

We were excited about your application, but unfortunately we filled our last internship spot this week. We *may* be hiring another round in a month or two and may contact you them if your a good fit for the roles we’d be hiring for.

3) The “Aw Shucks, I’m Sorry I Can’t Hire Everyone!” Rejection

Emails that have a bit of sincerity and genuineness are always nice to get.

I really appreciate your interest in the Admissions Associate position at City Year. The response to this job posting was overwhelming, as you might imagine. I enjoyed speaking with you and learning more about your interest in City Year.  Unfortunately, we are not able to offer you the position.  I am sorry that this opportunity did not work out. I hope that you will keep City Year in mind for future opportunities. I wish you all the best in your job search.

4) The “You’re Aiming Too High” Rejection

Notice how there is no stroking of the ego at all.  Very to the point.  “We reviewed your materials and unfortunately found them to be brimming of suckage.  Good day.”

We conducted a thorough and comprehensive review of your materials to determine if your particular skill set and qualifications match currently open positions within our organization.  After careful consideration, unfortunately we are not able to offer you an interview at this time.

5) The “You’re Aiming Too Low, But Welcome Aboard!”…Acceptance?

My favorite type, and not because it may lead to a local job.  It’s my favorite because of the total candidness in the response.  Also, I appreciate the irony that I’m over-qualified for the position of Administrative Assistant, which is basically the same type of job I got rejected from in all the previous emails.  The world’s a funny place, eh?

Interesting resume and too big for a small outfit such as us! This is just a little job, I’m not sure you really would feel your talents are adecquately [sic] used….Thank you for responding, I’m putting your resume forward in the prespective [sic] process.

I’m a Big Kid Now

21 Sep

I feel like Pinocchio … the real boy version. I just had my very first day at my very first internship post graduation.  And … (drumroll please) … it was fabulous.

Day one, and I’ve already been published.  Okay, published on their online blog, but still–there it is! My name in LIGHTS! My very own byline! I’m officially an author. Whoah.

Okay, so when they asked me for a pithy and distinctly New York take on a Texas university’s digital-only library, the first thing that came to mind was the death of margin notes left by careless students in library books that cheating students use in the fifteen minutes before class to pretend like they did the reading.

So, I’m a bit too close to college to really feel like an Adult (with a capital “A”).  But still, he liked it!  Hey Mikey!  Watch out real world, I’m coming at you, and I’ve got a lifetime of Disney lessons at my back.  I can’t fail.