I found a few trends as I searched that were very telling of the times that we are all forced to live in. It was clear that we are living in an employer’s market and they are quiet aware of it. I read job announcements that would make even the most experienced worker unwilling to apply for these positions.
- Most have 5 years of experience in accounting. Must know Yardi. Must be certified in Quickbooks. Be an expert in Excel. Must have Bachelors in accounting and related field... $15 per hour.
- To the list above, add most speak Mandarin or Spanish.
- Don’t apply unless you have experience in this specific field.
- Then add, most be looking for part time work.
I had an interview with a famous clothing company. The company was started in a garage, and almost everyone I saw there was young and trendy. People were able to wear shorts, and there were interesting art work, and catalogs in the waiting area. I was on time, but of course they made me wait. When the young woman came to the front to meet me, she was dress similar to the models in the catalog. I was so over interviewing that the time that I tried my best to smile. It was clear that I had walked into a fashion show and wasn’t dressed for it. The interview was awkward; they didn’t really ask me any questions. I was told about the founding of the company, and asked to describe myself. When the older gentleman asked the young woman if she had any further questions for me, she very unprofessionally stated, “No, I just wanted to see if I could work with her.”
That was the moment when I realized that I was wasting my time. No matter what I said or did, the whole time came down to my look or my personality. And how could I be my sparkling self when no one was asking me any questions? I couldn’t. I tried. But I was so done with it that I didn’t even bother sending a thank you card. This is what the others weren’t saying. Sometimes you are just there for what my mentor calls, “The Eye Test.” This means that if they look at you and don’t like what they see, all the fancy foot work and verbal acrobatics that you do will never impress them. I’m not saying it was race or anything like that, but it could be any number of things. Maybe my clothes weren’t trendy enough; maybe I didn’t have the right personality. Maybe it was my color. Either way, I could never do anything to make her hire me. But I wasn’t upset, I would eventually be the one that someone liked and I would get the job.
The day came that I was hoping for; however, the job wasn’t exactly the position that I was hoping for. The only thing that I could take away from this was a learning experience in self-worth. This job was very close to my house. It was so close that I was a little fearful that I would be late every day if I were hired. I was in the fitting room of a store that I had very recently discovered following an interview I had in a sweat shop, when the phone rang and a very pleasant person mispronounced my name. I try not to correct them though; it might be my future boss after all. The conversation went well enough for her to invite me in for an interview. I chose the earliest time, I had learned from the other disaster that had befallen me.
The woman was great. She asked questions, I gave answers. We had casual conversations. I expressed my pity at her work that was piling up as we were conversing. People would bring papers and lay them at the top of her already overflowing, neatly placed mounds of paper. She said that I was a top contender… I had heard this before so I wasn’t that impressed until she called me the next day. I was over joyed, except the fact that it was a part time job and we hadn’t discussed pay as yet, but who cares, sometimes your self-esteem just needs a call back.
When I showed up, the second interviewer was less casual. She spoke of the position as a dead end. She told me that she had one position, the other interviewer had the other, and mine, if I were offered it, would never go anywhere. I felt as if she was threatened by me and was making sure that I knew that I would not be getting her position. Then it happened. I asked her about journal entries, and she insulted me. I was right, but she made some rube remark about not teaching me during an interview. I was done at that point. I wouldn’t be insulted by some insecure chick on the other side of another desk over flowing with unfinished work. I corrected her, to which she replied that I wouldn’t have to worry about that. My job was basic. My resume says Master’s degree though, so I decided then and there that this job wasn’t for me.
The very next morning I got a call from my first contact. She was worried that I wouldn’t spend much time in the job as it was part time. I asked her about the pay and it wouldn’t do anything but make me even poorer. Instead of telling her that I was insulted by her counterpart, I opted for a seeming disgust by the money being offered and that ended that. I won’t work anywhere that is so blatantly cruel from the initial meeting. So I kept looking.
But sometimes I don’t even make it to the second interview. I got an email one day from someone who had no command of the English language in its written form. Although the email was short, it was 99% typos and misspellings. I’ve been guilty of some typos too, but never so blatant that you would mistake the sender for and English as a second language speaker. The basic message was that he was interested in calling me for an initial interview. The next day I got a call from someone who seemed pretty fluent in English. He seemed impressed by my knowledge of accounting and retail as this was a dress shop. Then he said that he would contact me with date and time for a follow up interview. There was the usual he liked me exchange and so I wanted. The next day I got an email saying that he had hired someone else. It was kind of odd considering that it was a weekend. I don’t know what happened, but I’m sure that I had dodged a bullet.
During all these interviews, I decided what I wanted in a job. This was important because nothing is more frustrating than spinning your wheels looking for something, yet you don’t know what it is. So I made a list because I was seeing all the things that I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be the only one in the accounting department. I didn’t want to work so far away from home that I couldn’t run home in a pinch. I also wanted fare wage for my skills and education level, in a place where I could get to the next level while paying my bills and living the way I think I deserve. I’m not sure if I got all of these things, but I recently got pretty close to it. Making a plan like this will narrow down the types of positions you apply for.
Here are some rules I gave myself for looking for work:
- Make a list of requirements that you have for your future position and employer.
- Don’t apply for things that you don’t qualify for unless the company doesn’t seem so rigid.
- Don’t apply for things that exclude you because of language.
- Don’t apply for any position that is part time if you really want full time.
- Don’t apply for any position that requires high skill for low pay.
- Know your worth.
- Don’t let anyone speak down to you while being interviewed.
- Apply as often as possible.
- Give yourself a deadline for finding a position and work towards it. But don’t get hung up on the deadline.
- Always tell the truth in an interview… don’t get caught with your pants down once your hired.
For months I tried to convince myself that when I didn’t get these jobs, it was for the best. Most didn’t meet my criteria’s for gainful employment anyway. It was beginning to become clichéd. I was bailing out the ocean with my resume. The end wasn’t anywhere in sight, but I kept at it… I even convinced myself that I didn’t want most of the jobs that I wasn’t offered. If it was for me, I would not have had to work so hard for it.
A short while after not getting yet another job that I wanted, I began to get worried; however, I was offered a part time position with that nonprofit from my first job hunting post. She knew that I was looking and was okay with me not showing up because I had interviews. Shortly after that, I was called for an interview at a firm that had an entire accounting department and a supervisor. It was a place where you could get moved up in the company, and earn what you deserved, maybe not at first, but they would teach me a new accounting system and that alone was worth its weight in gold.
I went to this interview as I had all the others. I wasn’t hopeful, and I wasn’t hopeless. I knew what to say, I knew how to dress, and I was ready to put my best foot forward. During the interview the interviewer was pleasant, she asked questions, and then it turned. She began explaining the company and the position to me at its fullest. At the end I had no questions. She never really smiled, but the whole thing was very conversational. When I left I was empty. I didn’t want to feel anything. And she didn’t give me any of that I like you and you’re top contender B.S. that I had been hearing for months.
The very next day, on my way to the 10 hour a week job, I received a follow up call. She said that she wanted me to come back for a second interview with her higher up. This was it; I was the one that someone liked during the initial interview. The second interview went well. The interview was almost the same as the first. No one insulted me. I was impressed with the company and I was impressive. That same day I sent Thank You cards to both contacts. Then I waited. The very next week I called. I was told that I would know something by the end of the week. The week ended and nothing.
I got nervous, in fact, I got five more interviews. The first I missed by being sick and not really remembering the time I was given. I got there late and wasn’t seen. Try not to do that. Then I had three interviews in one day. Two loved me. But I had met plenty of those. The second place apparently had a tyrant for an owner. They kept asking me if I could deal with a very blunt personality. I tried to pretend I could. I mean, I could, but why should I have to. Why should I be in a position to get berated by someone simply because I wanted and needed a position?
The first interview of the three was most promising. Everyone was polite and the interviewer seemed quite impressed by my previous experience. He said that I would know by the middle of the week. The position was limited, but the room for growth was there and so I decided that I would think long and hard about this one. Just as he promised, I received an email saying that they would be going with someone else. So I called him up to ask why. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you have a strong stomach however. He was very honest. He told me that he had found two candidates who were in the same type of business and they were already familiar with the very same contacts that they might be dealing with in this position. I was okay with that.
I was worried that the second position would hire me so I sent another email to that really amazing interview I had earlier. I didn’t hear anything back. I waited for emails and phone calls as I frantically searched for work. I was thinking of all the positions that I had interviewed for, the ones that I was denied and the ones that I was offered. The panic almost set in again, but I know some really amazing people and they offered me encouragement. I set up an interview for the following Tuesday afternoon; however in the morning I got a call from the management company and an offer was made. It wasn’t everything that I wanted, but it was 99% and I could work up to that 1% in no time. That was it. That was the position that was meant for me and I took it without much trepidation.
Happy hunting. Remember, you won’t ever get a job that didn’t already have your name on it no matter how impressive you are.