I’ve known quite a few people looking for jobs over the past five years. All of them truly want to work. All of them have marketable skills in their chosen fields. All of them have done their best to get their resumes up-to-date and their applications out there. What I’ve also noticed is how every single one of these people has complained about the changing face of job hunting.
Back when I was a fresh-faced kid out of high school my job hunting started at the ass-scratch of dawn with my Dad banging on my bedroom door ‘reminding’ me I needed to get up and go into town with him and mom to pound-the-pavement. I didn’t have a car and living in the middle of nowhere in Upstate NY, public transport did not exist. My only way to get anywhere was to ride into the city with my parents, find a friend or borrow my grandmother’s car. I certainly couldn’t afford a car because, well, I didn’t have a job! Therefore, the fun often started at 6:00am. Mom and I were dropped off by Dad at around 7:30. Mom would head into her office while I would continue my walking adventure with a couple of tested pens, a dozen copies of my meager resume that consisted of my recent graduation from high school and some volunteer summer jobs I’d had, a good book, a packed lunch and a pair of sturdy walking shoes. I’d walk door-to-door, one shop to the next that held even the vaguest of employment interests to me. One application after another was filled out on the spot and stapled to a resume. When I ran out of resumes, my job hunting day was over. I did this weekly for months, centering on a different area of the city each time, making my name and lack of experience known to one and all. I was friendly and personable, doing my best to hide and overcome my introvert nature. By the end of that day, I was exhausted. I’d trudge back to my mom’s office where we’d meet up with my dad at 4:45pm and head back home.
On my days off from this sort of job hunting, I would occasionally be able to drive my grandmother’s car or better yet, ride my bike – and I don’t mean a motorcycle here, kids. I mean a bicycle that you peddled with your very own legs! Remember, I lived out in the middle of nowhere. There was nowhere in town to get a job. Okay, maybe that’s not true. I could have tried at the lumber mill, the feed store or the hardware store, I suppose. The nearest large grocery store was fifteen miles away. If the weather seemed promising and Gramma’s car wasn’t available, filled my backpack with the above mentioned items, hopped on my trusty 10-speed and was on my way. More applications filled out by hand. More resumes handed out.
Of course, the first words out of my dad’s mouth at the end of these days was always, “Find a job yet?” It took months before I could finally answer him with a yes.
Fast forward to today and the modern methods of job hunting. You no longer walk door to door and if you do, you’re wasting your time. Though it’s important to have your resume up-to-date, don’t bother printing out too many. Most places won’t take them. Hell, you don’t even need a frickin’ pen, let alone good walking shoes. Why? Because NO PLACE wants you to put the effort into filling out a paper application anymore. God forbid a person looking for a job should show any sort of true initiative when it comes to work! Time and time and time again, my job-seeking friends (every single one of them) has bemoaned to me the invention of the online job application. You can lounge at your computer in you sweat pants and wife-beater t-shirt while sipping shots of Jack Daniels out of your coffee cup if you want. Now there’s someone I’d be interested in hiring, NOT! No, give me the person who cares enough to get up early, shower, dress with a certain level of self respect and pound some pavement. THAT’S someone willing to actually work for a living.
Even if you fill out a dozen applications a day, you are nothing more than a faceless series of facts on a computer screen to a potential employer. They have no idea who you are beyond that. There’s no information given to them that a person-to-person meeting can provide. There’s a lot to be said about first impressions. Back in the day that first impression came the moment you walked into that building, your feet aching and your hand cramped and a ‘hire me’ smile plastered on your lips. I believe in ‘vibes’, that we all give off certain vibes to others that we meet. You could look at someone, check out how they dressed and the amount of effort they have put into getting the job they have showed up to apply for. We’ll have none of that anymore.
I truly believe that today’s modern job hunting methods have actually contributed to the higher unemployment rates we now have. Despite Facebook’s best efforts, we have become a society of faceless bots without personalities or the know-how to judge others based on something beyond their ability to make themselves look good in writing. Today, that first impression comes at the interview – if you are lucky enough to get that far. The good jobs go to those that can express themselves well in writing even if the jobs they are applying for have nothing to do with sentence structure or spelling.
I encourage all employers to PLEASE have paper applications on hand and be willing to accept that hand-written application and a printed resume instead of relying on corporate headquarters to do all the work for you. If you’re the manager, do some managing. Be proactive. Be responsible for who works for you on every level. Consider those few minutes it takes your potential employee to fill out that piece of paper your chance to observe from afar and to tune in with that inner part of each of us that takes first impressions seriously. You could be missing out on one of the best workers you’ll ever have! People want to work and I believe those that are willing to walk (literally) that extra mile to find a job, deserve more than to be turned away before they even have a chance with the off-handed remark, “Sorry, we only accept applications online.”
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