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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 

Finding, Working & Keeping a Job (Part I)

Yesterday, I came home from work in the blackest of moods. The events which occurred yesterday at work angered me as both an employee and as an employer. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you will have understood by now, that I am a small business owner in partnership with my husband. We own two home entertainment stores and since we both believe that you can’t run a business only by looking at balance sheets, we also work in both stores.

I spent 14 years of my working life as an employee. I’ve spent the last 5 years as both an employer and employee. Therefore, I now consider myself qualified enough to objectively give some advice to both people looking for work and those presently employed and employers who want to get the most of the employees they hire. Because I don't want any other employer and employee to go through a Monday like I just did...having employee-induced nervous breakdowns. I'm going to share my thoughts with you in the hope that you may avoid similar situations.

I’ll start with some Dos and Don’ts tips for potential employees. Tomorrow, I’ll post the tips for employees and on Thursday it’ll be the employers’ turn.

Don’t apply for a job without a resume/curriculum vitae.
As obvious as this sounds, you’d be surprised how many people just show up on our doorstep asking to get hired without one. Just because you can remember your name and phone number does not mean that a potential employer will. Not only that, you must remember that you’re not the first person to walk into any place of business looking for work. You have to make the best effort you can to ensure YOU get the job and not the next person who comes in after you does. Let us know why you think we should hire you and not anyone else and keep it as succinct as possible. We really don’t need to know that you were the first in your daycare class to build a 96 piece Lego helipad at the age of 2 but we would like to know what your education, work experience and special skills you’ve acquired as it pertains to the job.

It wouldn’t hurt to include a cover letter to personalize your application either. That just lets me know that you’re not on a generic job hunting mission and any job will do. Make us think we’re special too.

Image is almost everything. If you’re telling us that you are meticulous, accurate and hard-working, don’t give us a resume saturated with spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and outdated contact information. Make sure it’s typed and if you’re going to photocopy it, keep the black splotches from a dirty photocopier to a minimum. You wouldn't want a prospective employer to have problems reading your phone number because one of those splotches appeared over it.

Dress decently when submitting your job application
Many people think they only have to dress up for a job interview but feel just fine showing up in flip flops and sweatpants to drop off their resumes. Just because the employer might not be present when you show up doesn’t mean that other employees and secretaries don’t notice your appearance. And you’re making an even bigger mistake if you assume they won’t talk behind your back when it comes time to give the application to their boss. Even in other jobs I’ve had, receptionists and secretaries would bring job applications to my office with their two cents worth about the demeanour and appearance of the applicant or I’d hear them laughing about it with other employees around the reception desk.

I don’t expect you to wear a tuxedo or a prom gown but wearing sweatpants to any job other than a gym will cut your job prospects in half before you even make it to the interview stage. If you’re female and the job you’re applying for is not as a waitress for Hooters or for a strip club, then don’t show up in a mini skirt, stilettos and tank top. Remember that not all employers are male—don’t bank on seduction as a surefire way to land a job.

Be Punctual
If you’re lucky enough to get called back for an interview, make sure you’re there on time. If you can’t be bothered to show up on time for an interview, why should an employer believe you’ll be bothered to show up on time for work. Emergencies are the only acceptable excuses for being late to an interview. Traffic, having no babysitter, a fight with a family member and being lost are not emergencies. They’re just excuses.

Be confident, calm, pleasant and smile.
If you plunk yourself down in a chair with a scowl on your face then don’t be surprised if your interviewer soon has one on his/her face too. I don’t really want to hear why you’re in a bad mood, I’m looking to hire someone for a job, not become a psychologist. If you constantly fidget in your seat, punctuate your sentences with word whiskers and turn red with embarrassment if I ask you about your last job, then I really can’t see how you’ll be able to answer a phone call or serve an irate customer without a self-induced heart attack. The fate of the world doesn’t rest on your performance in an interview. Just think of it as a fact-finding mission by a prospective employer. We’re not out to get you, just to get a better idea of who you are.

I'm just reading your post as you are commenting on mine. I think that's neat. Do you use msn messenger and if so let's chat sometime! DO the meme only if you want to of course-- no pressure :)

zardoz says :

the first time i handed a
cv to a potential employeer,
in the the year of our lord
1983, in the country known
as greece in the southern
balkans,he looked at me
as if i was coming from
some galaxy far ,far , away,

STILL laugh when i think
of his awe, and still
remember his expression
when i explained the usefulness
of a curriculum vitae,

coming out of the post-junta
dictatorship , he thought
only the police , had this
personal information.


== z ==

PS: Also liked your comparison article on the military spenditure, i read phylax
too , dont agree with him on everything, but he does make
quite a few points,
at times .

happy easter ms SEAWITCH .

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Unfortunately, it works both ways. A friend of mine, who did a short stint of education abroad, came back to Greece and when he handed his cv to an interviewer, the guy was totally impressed by the act. He had probably never seen a cv in his working life. After my friend made his presentation on what he can offer the company, finally after an hour, the interviewer (and owner of the small/medium sized company) said: 'It all sounds interesting. My daughter just finished a computer related IEK, so I will ask her to do it'.



Great advice.
A good-looking, updated CV is a must. As a network administrator (which in Greece translates to "oh-you-must-be-really-good with-computers") I get a lot of friends and extended family seeking template ideas and spiffy CV layouts, but at the same they're worried that if the CV looks "too" good the employer may assume that the applicant knows his/her way around a keyboard, which may not always be the case.
Sweat pants? Really? Someone showed up to hand in his resume in sweat pants?

traveller...I don't use MSN messenger anymore...I downloaded the new beta version and it screwed everything up on my PC so I uninstalled it and can't be bothered with it anymore. LOL You should try to find me in the Greek chatroom (link on the home page)...I'm usually in there a couple of time of week in the evenings.

zardoz...My, how times have changed from the post-junta period. I don't even bother talking to anyone without a CV.

kostas...stay tuned for my next installment...employers tips. And one of the things I cover is an employer who hires their relatives. Your friend is probably lucky he never got the job with that interviewer. Chances are he'd be having to battle family in-fighting every hour of every day on that job.

flubber...I wonder if employers expect applicants who dress well to be able to design clothing as well? It's a big jump from a nicely designed CV to being a computer specialist.
It's not just someone who showed up in sweatpants...I'd say a good majority of people who ask for jobs at the store show up in sweatpants and torn t-shirts. I even had one girl show up in 6" platform shoes dressed head to toe in Goth style. Nosferatu was tame compared to her. LOL

It must be frustrating, but when it comes to hiring people for retail, I can imagine a retail store owner operating anywhere would have the same experiences with hiring.

Compounding your problem, though, is that no one in Greece takes business of any kind seriously, unless they own the company, and (largely because of the problems in finding competent people you describe), wind up hiring family who they can trust.

It's all very 3rd world.

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