Two Things Not to Do When Looking for a Job
After losing my first job out of college to the toppling stock market, all I wanted was my resume in the hands of an HR professional, rather than a computerized, key-word tracking, algorithmic gate-keeper. What I got myself into were embarrassing, never-again situations.
A university not far from me was having a job fair open to students, alumni and paid members of the Alumni Association. Dressed in the sharpest business attire and holding a folder with freshly prepared resumes, a fellow “in-between jobs” friend and I decided to show up and fib. We rehearsed our one-liner, “We just joined moments ago and don’t have our membership cards yet, we just joined moments ago and don’t have our membership cards yet…” Arriving and seeing Facebook as a potential employer, we shot into a ballroom to be greeted by three stone-faced women waiting for our passes. On steroidal autopilot we explained, “We just joined moments ago and don’t have our membership cards yet.” The strict, past-their-prime bureaucrats requested us to access the confirmation email of our new membership. Alas, we did not have a Plan B. It took a few deep breaths to explain – with crimson sincerity – that I lied… and I am so sorry, but I just got laid off and have no money to pay rent, and I really need to get in, and I would have joined the Association had I had the money, and had I gone to school there, and I’ve always wanted to work for Facebook….ok, it was less explanation than supplication. After the 5-minute pathetic plea, followed by silence, we were politely asked to leave. Moral of the story: Don’t crash a Members-Only Job Fair of which you are not a Member.
2. Don’t Answer a Craigslist Personals Ad Hoping to Get a Job
After spending seven hours a day on Craigslist job postings, and disheartened by the preferred qualifications that outdid mine, the barely minimum wage pay and the lack of response to my cover letters and resumes, my mind needed a rest. So… I decided to wander over to the Craigslist Personals. After paging through the men looking for affairs, men receiving social security and looking for fun, I found an ad that caught my attention. I cringe now, but back then writing to “Successful Consultant Who Travels the World” seemed like a smart tactic. I was frank from the beginning: I was not looking for a date but was interested in learning more about his industry, and would he possibly have some time to meet with me for an informational interview? (After all, isn’t “informational” the key word to squeezing yourself into the busy schedule of a potential employer, only to then suggest why you’d be such a great fit for their company?) Unfortunately, after a good hour of laughing off his flirts, discussing his company and my relevant work experience, he dropped the job-bomb – he could not refer anyone he did not know very well. I left immediately, dignity intact, but no job in sight. Moral of the story: Don’t answer a Craigslist Personals ad hoping to get a “salary with benefits” rather than a “friend with benefits.”