Having applied for -- and been rejected for -- about 30 jobs in the past year places me in the growing category of unfortunate people everywhere.
Most of us job-seekers probably have read the articles and books on how to get jobs. As a CETA youth employment program supervisor one summer, I even taught kids how to get jobs and took them on interviews.
Obviously, I'm no expert on job-finding, but my own experiences, combined with those at CETA qualify me, I think, to write about personnel directors and other hiring types. For once, I would like to tell employers how they should act in a job interview.
1. Try courtesy. Remember that at best you are dealing with a person who is nervous; at worst, with someone who feels hopeless and desperate. Shake hands. Be friendly. Offer coffee if possible.
2. Be aware of demeaning habits. If you wear spectacles which require you to look down your nose at another person, take them off once in awhile.
3. Never ask if the person really wants to work. I was shocked at the lack of sensitivity some people show with teen-agers -- "You really wanta work, boy? If you do, we'll get along fine. If you don't, we don't want you."
4. Forget questions that are not pertinent. For the 25th time, I was asked what my husband did (for a living, I presume). In that situation I have the greatest temptation to ask how the man's wife is employed. I fantasize that, whatever the answer, I would say, "Gee, that's too bad. You must be awfully busy at home."
5. Be on time for appointments. The person you are interviewing has spent time, energy and perhaps money to meet with you. He or she may have taken off from another job, paid a babysitter or traveled a considerable distance. If you have trouble empathizing, think back to your last waiting-room experience at the dentist's office.
6. Try to determine all abilities of the person you are interviewing. I have managed a household for 20 years; raised, with my husband, three children; participated in countless volunteer projects; written a weekly newspaper column; been a substitute teacher for 15 years; managed a state senate campaign; worked for CETA; taught homebound children and pregnant teen-agers, and I consider myself management potential. Many prospective employers, however, never got past, "Can you take shorthand?" An intelligent person who can spell, compose letters and manage an office may be worth much more than a typist.
7. Give the applicant an answer as soon as possible. Anyone who hasn't looked for a job in awhile will be shocked at how this rule is broken. Several months ago I applied for a job with a major company. I drove 200 miles and spent most of two days in interviews with them. I was told I would be hired and placed somewhere in the company, and that they would call me "next week." I never heard from them again; they did not return my half-dozen long-distance calls.
To neglect letting an anxious person know the decision isn't just rude, it is costly and demoralizing.
A wise friend of ours used to say that everyone should be without a job at least once in his life. Now I know why. It hurts.