Everyone I’ve talked to since graduating from college says some variation of the same thing in an attempt to make me feel better about my unemployed, living-at-home-with-my-parents self: “It’s so hard out there right now. You’re young. You have time to find a job, just enjoy yourself!” There are countless articles about how the job market sucks, and how college graduates have to work jobs well below their skill level just so they can afford the instant soup they thought they’d never have to eat again after leaving college.
Truth is, the job market does suck and so does being unemployed. I don’t want to be living at home with a college degree and a resumé filled with unpaid internships I suffered through just to “look good” to perspective employers who aren’t hiring right now. I will admit, I have only been looking for a job for about a month or so. Regardless of the time, however, I have found consistent trends in my interviewing process, and my findings have been reinforced after sharing experiences with friends. I often find myself wanting to stop an interview to just say, “Can we be honest with each other?”
This is why I have decided to write this. The following is a confession of what I would say if I could be honest during an interview and about the interviewing process.
Networking is every employed person’s favorite word to use during discussions about the job hunt. “You just have to network! You have to know the right people and see who they know!” Simple as that, right? No. Networking only works if the people you’re networking with know people who you should network with who know people who are networking with people because they actually have a real job for you. As complicated as that last sentence was, that’s how complicated it is to actually find a job through networking. Sure, there is the odd occurrence that you email someone you know in the industry of your interest, and they actually do know of an open position that you can apply for. But since that chance is considered “fat” by most, I bring up my next point of frustration: informational interviews. Informational interviews, or as I like to call them “shooting the shit,” are as much of a waste of my time as they are of your time. I get being nice and trying to “help,” but this only benefits you and me if you actually know someone or some department that is hiring. Otherwise, you will forget about me the second I walk out the door, and I would’ve written you off the second you said, “We don’t have anything open here at the moment, but why don’t you tell me a little about your experience and why you chose your major and what your dream job is in a perfect world!?” Truth is, networking is really a lot like gambling.
I believe the job market sucks mostly because employers have decided to screw people out of positions that they are more than qualified for. Since my experience is in searching for entry-level positions, I will focus on those. Your undermining statement of “at least 3-5 years experience” right under the job title of “Executive Assistant (Entry Level)” just makes you look like an idiot, not me, even though I apparently have what amounts to negative 5 years of experience. Requiring the people you are willing to hire for your “entry-level job” to be perfect candidates for a job that would pay twice as much is just plain mean (especially when I would be more than glad to do it for that small amount of money, sadly). Requiring that much experience is like not accepting 5 year olds into your kindergarten class because they don’t know how to multiply yet. Simply put, it just doesn’t make any sense. I have often found myself exclaiming to others “How am I supposed to get the experience if they won’t let me get it?!” Seriously people, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You know what? In this case you’re not getting to have the cake or eat it. My cake may even be your favorite flavor but you’ll never be able to taste it, let alone see it, because I’m 5 years old and can’t figure out what 7 times 9 is, apparently.
If you’re trying to hire someone as an “unpaid intern,” you’re an asshole. A cheap asshole.
Preparing For The Interview
Please be prepared for my interview. The least you can do is take 2 minutes before I arrive to brief yourself with my resumé. I am expected to have researched your company, you, your children, when you had your first kiss, and your pets (in case we have the opportunity to get off the topic of the job and relate on something actually interesting). Please be so kind as to not spend the first 5 minutes of our interview going over my resumé, presumably for the first time, trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing sitting in front of you. It makes you look bad and makes me feel bad. When a potential employer is well versed with my resumé, I feel almost special. I feel like I’m sitting in that office and sweating for a reason. But acting as if you’re reading my resumé for the first time is just uncomfortable for the both of us.
Also, using your first question to ask me if I have any questions is weird. Interviews are for you to ask me the questions and for me to “save my questions for the end” because “having questions at the end of an interview makes you seem interested!” If the first thing you ask me is if I have any questions, I will assume that this is your first interview ever and you don’t even know my name or where to find it on my resumé.
Incessant Phone Use
I get it. You’re important, you’re needed, you actually have a job and I don’t. But seriously, can’t you take 20 minutes out of your day to invest a little attention in someone who may someday, if all goes according to plan, be the boss of you? Staring at your phone and pressing the refresh button every time you stop talking and I start is actually rude. It’s rude. I know this can’t be a newsflash to anyone, at least I hope to God it’s not, but I suppose since I’ve sat in more than one interview during which my interviewer, the person that is “above me” according to social standards, pays more attention to an inanimate object than the living, breathing human sitting in front of them, some people don’t think it’s a problem. But I’m here telling you it is. What you’re doing is rude and your parents would not be proud.
Why Do I Want To Work For Your Company?
I don’t. In fact, the only reason I know anything about your company is because I saw somewhere or heard from someone that you were hiring, and I know how to use Google. Is it too late to add “Google Stalking” to the skills section on my resumé? But honestly, just like when you were in my position, 100 years ago, I have absolutely no interest in your company specifically. I just need to start somewhere, because apparently you need experience to get the experience you need to get experience.
The Follow Up Email
This is how a follow up email should read: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today, even though it took me longer to drive to your office than you took to talk to me while staring at your email. I really want the job we talked about because let’s face it, I’m broke, and I need to ‘start somewhere.’ Please let me know sooner rather than later if I have been chosen, or not, for the position. I don’t want my conscience to wake me up at 7am for the rest of the week saying ‘Check your email! They may have made their decision!’ It’s just common courtesy to not keep people waiting. This is my future, after all. Sincerely, me. P.S seriously did I get the job?“
So, since this is not what we actually get to say in our follow up email, you should at least have the decency to write a response to us. We took the time to blab about how head over heels we are for the position and how working for you would be “an absolute dream come true,” so the least you can do is respond with a simple thank you.
Lastly, please pay for my parking. I am, after all, the one who is unemployed.
So by now I think it’s fair to assume that you as the reader can sense my frustration with my experience mastering, or not, the “job hunt.” I will leave you on a positive note, however. After thinking about everything that’s gone wrong during interviews, everything I hate about the process, and every person that has annoyed me, I did come up with my favorite part about interviewing. My favorite part of an interview is walking back to my car, getting in, and un-tucking my shirt.