Wednesday, September 09, 2009

"I want to be wanted...."

On Labor Day, the news on the job front all seemed to be around the jobless recovery; when we can expect to see jobless rates peak; the permanently unemployed/ unemployable...All dire, all dreary.

But just as I was about to summon up the  dream-couple specters of Joe Hill and Mother Jones, I came across a chirpy little piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled "How to Make Employers Want You".

Obviously, the article is aimed more at WSJ readers than it is at, say, assembly line workers at a GM Powertrain plant in Rustbelt, Michigan, but - truly - is there anyone reading the WSJ for whom this advice from a partner with Deloitte Consulting's Human Capital Group is a revelation?

"Candidates have to think deliberately about how their skills will fit."

For this reason, the most successful candidates target prospective companies carefully, using the Internet and their networks to learn about organizational culture, history, financial performance and recent news.

By the time the interview takes place, they are able to have an intelligent discussion about the value they bring to the position, and the employer can easily envision them starting tomorrow.

Say what?

You mean I can't use the question, "So, what exactly does your company do?" as an opening interview gambit?

Man, life is just unfathomably hard these days, isn't it?

As for that "intelligent discussion" stuff, I could be snarky and point out that it's actually hard to have an "intelligent discussion" if you never actually score an interview.

But that's where your network comes in.

Have one! Use one!

Ditto your skills and experience.

Have some! Use some!

If only I could think of advice of this caliber, why, I'd have a column in the WSJ. No one wants to read the musings of a poke-funner. They want good, practical, useful advice.

The column goes on to tell us that:

Attractive personal qualities are a service orientation and diversity.

I get the "service orientation" (a.k.a., community involvement; see below), but I'm trying to wrap my bee-bee brain around how diversity is a personal quality.

Does this mean that you need a diversified c.v. - scholar! athlete! networker! multi-tasker! service orientator! Or that you're better off if you introduce some element of EEOC-style diversity into the workplace. And just how do you express this if the give-away isn't all that obvious. (Hey, you want diversity? My mother was born in Rumania. But she was not, alas, the queen. Just a little peasant girl who came through Ellis Island when she was almost four.)

When it comes to that community involvement, however, best not to fake it.

...if you have a legitimate interest in what the company is doing from a social-responsibility perspective, discuss that," Mr. [Jeff] Schwartz [of Deloitte again] recommends.

Those italics are mine, by the way. And I'll add even more value here by warning a job candidate that legitimacy is not achieved by reading on the company's website that their primo charitable outlet is the Society for the Preservation of the Praying Mantis, and announcing that, mirabile dictu, you've had a long-standing interest in the praying mantis. From a social responsibility perspective, this would be BS unless you actually did have some long-standing interest in the praying mantis. (No, watching one crawl up your arm in stoned fascination is not a long-standing interest. And - in real life - watch out for things like dropping bits like mirabile dictu into an interview. On the one hand, it speaks to an attractive personal quality, such as diversity - in that you're diverse enough to have taken Latin. On the other hand, 99.99% of those who have taken Latin are old fogies. Hiring an old fogy might be good for diversity, but - let's face it - having someone who remembers when Ike was president is not the type of diversity that anyone really wants around the workplace. So ix-nay on the mirabile dictu. And ix-nay on the ix-nay, while you're at it. There's something distinctly 23 skidoo-ish about Pig Latin. It's certainly in the same category as Latin-Latin, and may, in act-fay, be even worse. At least Latin-Latin has something a bit brainy and high tone going for it.)

But if you really want to get multiple job offers,

...nothing takes the place of demonstrating excitement about every firm you approach, and this enthusiasm should be expressed to everyone from the relative who is a company alum to the receptionist who greets you in the lobby.

No job?

'Don't mourn, organize' your network, résumé, community cred, and anything else you can think of that will make employers want you. (Duh?)

Demonstrate excitement! Be nice to the receptionist! Don't let the door hit your arse on the way out until you've expressed your enthusiasm about everything and everybody. Blow kisses! Bring donuts! (Better not: you don't want to appear self-indulgent or fattish.)

And, whatever you do, don't let on that you remember Brenda Lee singing, "I want to be wanted."

Talk about old fogey...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree that this is mostly obvious to the WSJ crowd. Or it should be. However, there are otherwise smart and previously accomplished people out there who send out the same resume they had in 1990, only use for job searching and have no idea what a network is.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, this is the kind of thing that bears repeating once in awhile, even if it's nothing terribly new or earth-shattering.