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Dr. Carreros or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Phone (Sorta)

9 Jul

A couple months ago, Ryan worked himself into an impressive tizzy and essentially told us, You are all pathetic excuses for adults, step away from your Macbooks and get over yourselves.” He was referring to our generation’s apparent aversion to using the telephone, preferring instead to conduct our business over text, tweets, and the like.

I am one of those people.  Imagine you are in a silent, crowded room, and you are suddenly struck by a strong urge to break gas.  Since polite society prohibits the practice of “ripping one”, the effort of blockading the escape of the fart from your ass is both awkward and uncomfortable.  Just like phone conversations with prospective employers.

The potential for screw ups is too vast for me to be at ease with the endeavor.  The phone, being the tool of distant communication, can lead to several missteps that impacts your critical first impression, whether you are interviewing for a position or reaching out to a networking contact. So oftentimes, when I research I company that I’m interested in and would like to know more about, rather than giving them a friendly ring, I opt for the more unobtrusive and well-traveled route of doing nothing at all.  Look out Wheaties–this is how champions job search.

When we consider my general tendency to irrationally fear the misuse of household items (WHY IS THE BLENDER MAKING THAT NOISE?) coupled with my tenuous grip on reality, my anxieties will make slightly more sense than the no sense they’re currently making.  If that makes sense.

When you, dear readers, call a company, you probably imagine someone like this answering on the other end.

"Hello, I am a nice normal lady, more than happy to help whippersnappers like you forge your future."

Here’s what I envision.

"Hello, my name is Derek, how can I hel-BRAAAAAAAAAINS."

Why maggot infested brain eating zombies?  Because my greater irrational fear is that I will anger or inconvenience the people I’m calling, and they’ll hate me forever and put me on some secret list like “Do Not Hire EVER Because She is An Inconsiderate Cow Who Interrupted My Game of Minesweeper.”  My career aspirations will be grounded before they even take flight.  As I’ve never seen a happy zombie, a kindly zombie, or an indulgent zombie, it seemed like an appropriate comparison.  No matter how many brains they eat, zombies will always hate you, as will employees you’ve directly disgruntled.

Ryan says that to get over the Phear of Phone, all you need to do practice until you’re comfortable with it.  I say nay.  It takes a special man to start you on your journey away from crippling self-doubt and towards societal acceptance.  That man is my dentist, Dr. Carreros.

A few weeks ago, I came home from Dr. Carreros’ after having two cavities filled (okay, I can’t reach the floss between my back molars–but I swear I’m a clean person otherwise).  My face was numb, my lips looked like salami links, and my salivary glands had apparently decided to smoke crack that day.  In other words, if a cucumber and a bulldog could procreate, their child would be me.   For some reason, I decided that now was THE time to be assertive and conduct prospecting phone calls.  Here is the condensed highlight from my call to a local test prep center.

“Hello!” I slurred through my sausage lips, “I’d like to know if you need shtate qualificashion to be an SAT tutor.”


“That’s aweshome!” I continued, dripping with enthusiasm and drool, “Are you hiring right now?”

“Unfortunately we aren’t, sorry.”

“THAT’SH OKAY! Will you be hiring shoon?

“Actually, we may be hiring in mid-July.”

“GREAT! I’d love for you to conshider me when you do begin your hiring procesh.  I’ll drop off my reshume in the next week, and look forward to meeting you!  Have a nice day!”

I got off the phone rather confused.  How did–did I just–abuuh?  And then I realized something–I was on drugs.  Dr. Carreros had given me some happy little guys to ease the pain, and I had translated the resulting delusion into drunken confidence.  The girl two hours prior to her fillings would never have been able to complete such a Herculean feat, and now here she was, practically demanding a job in under 30 seconds flat.  Huzzah?  Huzzah!

Here’s what I learned: 1) Small steps are overrated.  2) Drugs are awesome. Did I ever drop my resume off?  Of course not.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that I’m overcoming a purely fictitious obstacle entirely of my own creation!  And now, when job descriptions mandate that I “must exhibit competent telephone skills,” I’m only partially lying when I insist that I do.  I just need to make sure my first job has amazing dental.


Pick up the damn phone

20 Apr

I’ll be the first to tell you, at one point I was afraid of the telephone. You know, that thing device you chit chat with your peeps on? That thing. I was terrified of it. It’s so…immediate, even confrontational. Email is smooth, laid-back, cool. I’d hate to bother anyone or intrude upon people. Even friends — why call when you discreetly text or IM someone? Or if you’re feeling old fashioned, write a letter, don’t call. It’s much classier.

THIS IS YOUR LIFE! Getting a job is important. There is NO TIME to be wishy-washy, “cool,” or discreet. PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE. (According to web etiquette, the capital letters I use imply that I’m yelling at you. This is not a mistake. I rarely put anything in all caps.).

When it comes to getting a job, bother people. Okay, I’m not saying wage war against employers or your network of contacts by berating them with your words. No, I’m saying getting on the phone makes sure you are heard. You’re standing up for yourself.

It’s okay, I give you permission to use the telephone in your job search. Here are some key phrases I use a lot:

  • “Do you have a minute to talk?”
  • “Is there a time you’re free to chat?”
  • “Is now a good time?”
  • “I wanted to follow up on [insert subject]…”
  • “I wanted to take you up on your offer to chat about [insert subject]…”

And if you’re bad on the phone? Practice. Call your friends often. Better yet, call your parents and family friends. Deal with awkward pauses. It’s like learning a new language — you need to know the words and phrases that lubricate the conversation (yes, I just used the word lubricate, deal with it).

So, what are you waiting for? Repeat after me: pick up the damn phone.