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Good Luck With That, Buddy

, , , , | Working | July 26, 2021

My dad is the head of the chemistry department at a small, rural university. He is looking through resumes for an open faculty position. One candidate wrote this as the reason for leaving their previous position.

Candidate: “I wanted to work in a fast-paced, urban environment.”

The Shower Couldn’t Wait?!

, , , | Working | July 8, 2021

I’m the hiring manager for a new role in my company. As part of the hiring process, I give promising applicants a call to get more information. I reach out to a young fresh graduate by email and manage to set up a time for a call. At the agreed time, I call her up.

Me: “Hi! This is [My Name], calling from [Company].”

Applicant: “Oh… hi?”

Me: *Noticing the confusion* “We agreed on this time to discuss the role you applied for?”

Applicant: “Oh… Sorry, I can’t speak right now; I’m going to take a shower. Can you call back in half an hour?”

Me: *Annoyed* “I’m afraid I can’t. I’m sorry, but we did agree on this time, right? I got your confirmation by email.”

Applicant: “I’m sorry, who is this again?”

Me: “I’m [My Name], I’m calling from [Company] about the marketing role you applied for.”

Applicant: “Oh, right! Hi! Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m going to take a shower, so I can’t speak now. Can you call back tomorrow?”

Me: *Trying not to lose my temper* “I’m afraid I can’t.”

Applicant: “Oh, but I’ve already taken off all my clothes!”

Needless to say, she’s not getting the job.

Customer Service Isn’t For Everyone

, , , | Working | June 7, 2021

I apply for a restaurant job through a temp agency. The agency invites me to come to an application session in Rotterdam, so I take public transport there from my hometown.

As it turns out, the job is not entirely suitable. The agent, however, does not simply want to give up on me.

Agent: “Maybe you could do work in customer service?”

Me: “Like, over the phone, you mean?”

Agent: “Yes, I do. Might suit you?”

Last year, I did some work at a telemarketing company. From that, I learned two things. First, I couldn’t cope with all the negative energy people fired at me. Second, I wasn’t very good at convincing people. So, obviously, customer service is not a field where I want to go. But I decide to be tactful.

Me: “I don’t know. I doubt that I have talent for that.”

Agent: “Well, I thought, you have a university degree, so you won’t let people talk you down easily.”

Me: *Short silence* “No, I’m actually not very good at that.”

So, having a degree automatically makes me steadfast and convincing?

“Just Go Get A Job,” They Say

, , , , | Working | May 18, 2021

During eighteen months of unemployment, I try to figure out new ways to increase my chances. I get a lot of generic advice from people around me, like, “Look beyond the qualification list!” and “Try every possibility!’” and “Why don’t you just do [something that doesn’t make money at all]?” You get it. Getting desperate, I try some of this advice after all, only to find out that they are completely useless.

One piece of advice I see on several websites and hear from several people is, “Making a phone call still is the best way!” This seems a bit outdated to me, but it also isn’t a good combination with my shy personality and autism. At some point, I decide to try it anyway. In the case of a few vacancies, I try to call the person who is mentioned as a contact for questions. The problem is that I am not very good at finding real questions about the jobs, so the phone calls feel forced. After some time, I realise it isn’t working and I quit making forced phone calls in the hope of making more personal contact.

There is, however, one very interesting case. I call the contact person for a vacancy at a museum.

Me: “Good afternoon, this is [My Name]. I want to ask you some questions about the vacancy for [job].”

Contact: *Somewhat mockingly* “Really? That’s a bit strange. The text is quite clear.”

Me: “Well, I still have some questions. For instance, it’s a bit vague on salary. It says—”

Contact: “Right, hang on. For questions like that, you’d better contact our financial department.” *Gives contact information* “Anything else?”

Me: “Ehm… No.”

Contact: “Okay. Goodbye, then.”

Me: “Yes, goodbye.”

I felt baffled. Why is there a phone number for questions if you don’t want to answer them in the first place? At least I learned two things from this phone call. First of all, I need to have real spontaneous questions instead of calling in for the sake of contact. Secondly, I learned that I didn’t want to work at a place where a stranger is treated so rudely. I became unemployed after years of working for a rude, ungrateful man-child, and I was not about to make the same mistake again.

So, to some extent, the phone call served its purpose after all. I came into personal contact with the people there and might have dodged a bullet by doing that.

Selling Themselves Short — Or Not At All

, , , , | Working | May 18, 2021

While job-hunting, I read about many kinds of vacancies. There are a few things that make me critical about them. Many of them seem deliberately vague about the salary, for instance, by calling it “in line with the market,” as if that means anything. They don’t realise that this makes them seem unreliable.

Others try to overcome their fear of not being professional enough by using typical poor buzzwords like “early adapter,” “career tiger,” etcetera. They don’t realise that a good professional doesn’t need this over-the-top language.

The worst offenders, however, are the ones that try to be cool and hip in the hopes of attracting young people. They do this by describing the job in a very joking fashion in the hope of making their workplace seem funny and exciting. In the end, they make themselves come over as some kind of David Brent; i.e. someone who desperately tries to be funny in order to hide their lack of professionalism, while actually coming off more unprofessional.

One of these I will never forget. It started with a typical, “What you are going to tell about your job when you’re at a party?” as if I am not capable of deciding what I tell myself, followed by, “What your job is actually going to be.” Right… And of course, there was a description of the typical workday, filled with clichés like, “In the morning, you join the team for a talk about today’s business, while enjoying a great cappuccino!”

This was followed by a list titled, “What do we offer you?

– Every week a Friday afternoon drink

– In December there’s Ugly Xmas Sweater Day!

– A salary – not too unimportant, either!”

There was more, but I stopped reading. While a Friday afternoon drink is nice, it’s not a reason for me to apply or not, let alone an Ugly Xmas Sweater Day. I decide based upon hours, distance, required qualifications, and… salary! It’s bad enough that you put salary after two quite unnecessary items. But if you’re not mentioning any amount and try to hide that behind a weak joke, you seem worse than a little bit unprofessional. It makes you seem unreliable. Good luck finding someone who is unwise enough to fall for it.