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Do you keep finding jobs only to be told you need more experience?  Or graduate from college only to realize that every help wanted ad asks for a years worth of experience, minimum?  What do you do when all you have is that degree you spent %#*! for?  And how are you supposed to get any experience if you have no experience!?!?

Believe me, I know how frustrating it is as a Young Kossack to navigate your way through the entry level job transition.  You often feel you're barely qualified to apply for anything--including jobs you aren't even interested in.    

Congratulations!  It's time to compensate for the gap between your our educational system and the job market!   I could go on and on about how ridiculously our eduicational and employment sectors intersect, but that could be a whole other diary.  Instead, four years out of college, let me walk you through some tips to compensate for that lack of "experience."  

We Don't Need No Stinking Experience: Understanding the Employer Mindset

First off, as unfair and catch-22 as it might seem, realize that an employer usually asks for a minimum amount of experience not to be arbitrarily difficult but because they want to make sure that:

  1.      They don't waste time and money training you on basics
  1.      That you are responsible enough that they can reasonably expect you to show up and complete tasks that assigned to you
  1.      That you have a basic sense of how to behave appropriately in a business setting

They also realize that graduating from school and getting your first job can be a big transition—a transition that can be volatile, emotionally taxing and something they may not want to deal with.    A year also means you some track record they can use to predict future performance.  But that doesn't mean we feel any better about what seems like a silly situation--namely that you need experience to get experience.

My Resume is a Blank Sheet of Paper!

Before we get into how much experience you do or don't have, I'm going to break this down into a few steps for you.

  1.      First, make a list of all the places you have worked, ever, no matter how trivial.  
  1.      Now list all the places you have volunteered.
  1.      List all the clubs and organizations you have been involved in.
  1.      Make a list of the areas of interest in your studies, even research projects or big papers you worked on in school.
  1.      Make a list of any skills you have--work related or otherwise.

Now, step back and think about your goals and what type of job you are interested in, because your plan of action is going to depend on what type of job you are trying to get.

For the purposes of this diary, I am going to assume something entry level, with an office environment or customer service based environment.

Time to Dig

Most of the time, people already have a lot of skills and experience and they just don't realize it.  It's very rare that you didn't do a single thing in high school, college or after graduation.   At some point you had to be dragged into or interested in pursuing something.  Did you help your sister's girl scout troop organize a cookie sale through a local grocery store?   (If so you coordinated and took care of scheduling, secured permission, organized the event and helped sell $X for a good cause!)  As you can see, experience can be a lot of things, but mainly it's what you already do in your everyday life distilled down into basic skills.

These things all look pretty remote when you see them listed:

Event planning

Meeting scheduling


Trained on Phones Systems



Computer skills

Language skills

Proficiency with Math, English or other

Copying, Filing and Faxing

But I'm sure you've actually done many of them and if you haven't—don't worry, we'll get to that.

Where to Look for an Entry Level Job

First, you need to be looking for something appropriate to your level of experience.  Lucky for you, entry level job searches are pretty straightforward.   Obviously, Craigslist, Monster and even search boards through your university can be good sources.  But if there is somewhere you really want to work, call them and ask if they are hiring or send them a packet directly.   I have actually never gotten a job through a want ad, though I have had interviews and applied to many.  One job I got by throwing my back out and striking up a conversation with someone in the waiting room who happened to need help at their business.   The other time, I printed up a "business card" with my contact info and put it in a blue and gold folder from staples with a customized cover letter and resume.   I called it the KK promotional packet and mailed it to places I really wanted to work.  And it actually did get me a job.  

So expand your search beyond the online job boards by calling friends and family, sending out emails to let people know you are looking, meeting with friends of friends who work somewhere that seems interesting to you.   Many people are also willing to grant you an informational interview where as a courtesy they talk to you about what they do and what you would have to do to qualify for the type of job you're interested in. Your alumni network at your school can be a great resource for this.   But sitting home and applying online is not going to cut it.  No matter how many resumes you email or fax, you are going to have to do more than sit back and wait for someone to hire you.   And those who are least afraid to seize the initiative and get out there are usually the ones who get hired.

Customize Your Experiences

Especially if you have limited experience, you are going to have to apply to jobs individually.  You may even be uniquely qualified when it comes to some jobs.  Maybe you have minimal office experience, but including that you wrote your senior thesis on epidemiology when you are applying for a job with a doctor's office might help.

Get creative and think about courses you took, your hobbies and interests and anything else you are knowledgeable about.  Until you get a lot more experience, these things will help fill up your resume and flesh out who you are as an individual to prospective employers.  


These are great, if you did them.  But a lot of us spent our summers traveling or working at Starbuck's.   But what you might not now is that many internships are open to college graduates up to a year after graduation.  I found this out when I saw a great NPR internship 14 months after I graduated.   : (  But you know!  Because I just told you!  

If you did do an internship and you still have a connection at the organization, call them.  Maybe they have a position open or know of other organizations that do.  Sometimes just calling to tell them you are looking for a job and asking if you can list them as a reference can open a door.  A lot of these people get emails about positions at other organizations they work with.    

While many of us can't afford to do an unpaid internship after graduating (the whole point was to get a paying job, remember?) if moving home is an option you can sometimes find short term internships through museums or non-profits back home.   Heck, a volunteer organization might even be willing to create an unpaid one for you if you are willing to commit to volunteering there for several months.    And several months is plenty of time to gain meaningful experience if you are serious, enthusiastic, and upfront about what you want to get out of the experience and why you want to help them.

Get the to a Temp Agency

Temp agencies can be a great place to start, since they often require little to no experience, offer short term job, and thus are a quick way to gain job experience.   They can be a place you temp while looking for a better job, or sometimes they can even lead to full time positions.  And the commitment is usually one to several weeks, though I know some who have landed month long jobs.

Most temp agencies require that you bring a resume and come down for an appointment.  They'll administer a battery of tests so they can determine your typing speed and proficiency with computer programs such as MS WORD and EXCEL.   They'll want to know whether you have used multiple extension phone systems before, if you have any special skills and what you are looking for in terms of work.    The whole process usually takes a few hours and you should show up dressed as you would for a regular interview.  In fact, treat the entire process that way because they will be using this time to access how you do in a professional setting and which jobs they should send you to.

Temp agencies usually offer fairly good pay for recent college grads, though the majority of positions are entry level so pay can be low for those reentering the job market with lots of experience.    Think reception work or general office assist.  But they are a great starting point.  Even a few weeks of experience in an office environment can make a big difference to a potential employer and add some definite benefit to your resume.  


The other way to gain experience is by volunteering.  Many organizations are desperate for unpaid help, and you generally get to do a lot of what the paid help does: answer phones, do some faxing and photocopying and assisting with sending out mailers or coordinating events.   That's all something that can go on your resume.

And if you have already done volunteer work, make sure you list it on your resume.  First, many employers are impressed to see that not only do you have outside hobbies and interests, but that you give back through public service.   Plus, volunteer duties often include training in what are legitimate job skills.  I make sure to list them in a separate section of my resume to make it clear that it was a volunteer position and I wasn't paid, but I do list them.  

The nice thing about volunteering is you can help a cause you feel strongly about and gain experience that would otherwise be closed to you at the same time.   Volunteer organizations are often a great place to pick up skills and they very rarely care if you have any experience at all.  They are willing to train you and place you and if you take it seriously and show an interest you can often move into more specialized positions as well.   And a lot of non-profit organizations are often more likely to hire their interns and volunteers because they have already shown a commitment to the organization and are familiar with its goals and how it operates.

Taking a Class

Have the basic office skills but want to move into Public Relations or Marketing, or really dying for Finance?   Consider taking a course through a university extension program.  These are often geared toward professionals and you can list them on your resume since they prepare you in many ways for the type of work you are looking for.

Join a Professional Industry Association

Or better yet, get active in one.  They often offer training in the industry, contacts and networking opportunities and a chance to show employers you are really committed to working in the field.

This is also a great way to transition across industries as well.  You get to know the companies and the skills while connecting with others and absorbing through osmosis.

Putting it All Together: It's Resume Time!

Consider organizing your resume according to your skills and listing all your jobs in one section.  Then you can focus your resume on what you've accomplished and can do.   The one downfall to this is it is not standard and that may cause some to toss it in the reject pile.  But the benefit is it still contains all the relevant information and should still be picked up by key word searches if the company uses a filter and it focuses on your accomplishments in general rather than which company or organization each took place at.

There are a ton of great resources online with resume templates and formatting.

You're Looking for a Job

Realize too that most people don't land their dream job right out of college and many find employment in a field they didn't study.   So don't limit yourself too much in your search.  Even a fairly dull job can transition into something great, and at the very least it will get you the experience you need to move forward.  But since you should aim to stay in your first job for at least one year, make sure it is something you do want.

10 Minutes With Kossacks Under 35 Founder kath25

I'm also very excited to announce that I had the opportunity to interview kath25 on our new show, 10 Minutes With.  The series offers short, ten minute interviews with some of the more interesting voices in politics.  You can download the podcast at BlogTalkRadio, or stream the show at our blog,
Political Nexus.


Originally posted to theKK on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:12 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks, KK! (11+ / 0-)

    This is great. Thanks for contributing, and for hosting me on your radio show today.

    Want to be on the Kossacks Under 35 Mailing List?

    kossacksunder35 (at) gmail dot com

  •  or you can do (13+ / 0-)

    what my girlfriend is doing, and join the Peace Corps :-)  That will build your resume--as long as you don't have, say, any long-term financial obligations or any other commitments, and you're willing to live in a third-world country for a couple of years.  But hey--why not?

    Great diary KK.

    oops. I hope the gate wasn't too expensive.

    The Nexus has you.

    by Dante Atkins on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:09:34 PM PDT

  •  Objectives (8+ / 0-)

    My aunt does a lot of HR consulting, and she said that it's not worth it to take the space on your resume to list your "objective: (to get whatever job you're offering)."

    She says that it's a waste of space that can be better served by providing more information about yourself.

    •  Very true. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, sarahnity, kath25

      I ditched that and now write a cover letter of some form and it definitely works better.

      Raise hell --Molly Ivins

      by Jocelyn on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:46:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  cover letters are worthless (0+ / 0-)

        as well

        "Reality has a well known liberal bias"-Stephen Colbert

        by politicaljunkie2008 on Thu May 10, 2007 at 10:37:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Au contraire, mon frere. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I'd say that about 75% of the time, as a hiring manager, the difference between an applicant getting an interview and not getting an interview has been the cover letter.  Resumes that arrive without one are immediately consigned to my "No" file.  If you can't be bothered to write one, I can't be bothered either.

          A good cover letter -- one that will grab my attention -- has the following attributes:

          • Is never more than two pages long.
          • Has impeccable spelling and grammar, and shows a well-developed writing style.
          • Fills in any holes in the resume by A) talking about how the applicant's experience applies to that job. and/or B) explaining what gaps in the job history have been spent doing.
          • Shows that the applicant has taken the time to learn about the requirements of the job and also about the organization to which he/she is applying.

          The best application I ever saw arrived in a presentation folder.  When I opened the folder, on the right side was the resume.  On the left side was a cover letter that addressed the position's job description point by point and gave details about the applicant's qualifications for each of the job's responsibilities.  He did all of that and still kept the letter to two pages.  It was beautifully written and impeccably presented.  He came to his interview equally prepared not just with answers, but with questions of his own.  He got the job.

          Oh, and the "objective" part of a resume?  COMPLETE waste of space.  Do NOT bother.

          "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

          by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 05:15:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Having read (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sarahnity, apdva, kath25

      hundreds of resumes for entry level positions -- amen!

      Oh, how many hopefuls start out their resume with their "objectives" which might be appropriate for someone applying for a position as a corporate vice president.  But believe me, as the file clerk, your dynamism is not going to totally re-make the office I've been running for 20 years!

      Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? - Ian Frazier, Lamentations of the Father

      by Frankenoid on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:58:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Anybody who has any other tips (9+ / 0-)

    please list them!  I am always interested in how others have managed to navigate the system.

    I find that getting directly involved and trying to just do what you want at a volunteer level or even on your own can be very powerful.  Much easier than waiting for someone else to give you a chance.  Though, if you can do your own thing while waiting, that is prolly the best of all.

    •  knowing somone (a relative, family friend, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sarahnity, kath25

      friend of a friend)can get you a serious leg up in whatever industry you are trying to break into.  I know it's cronyism, but you'd be foolish not to take advantage of ANY connection, no matter how distant, at your disposal.

      (ahem, you could even be elected President of the United States)

      "The chain reaction of evil-wars producing more wars- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." MLK

      by cato on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:47:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I would very much agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sarahnity, apdva, kath25

      Getting experience, no matter what, is essential to the process.

      I can't tell you how much of how businesses actually work does not get taught in university, and that's what worries employers.

      I hired an assistant once who laughingly told me how as she was coming up to receive her diploma in Marketing, how worried she was about having to supervise all these older people once she graduated and got her job!

      Of course, she could only get hired as a receptionist at an ad agency.  

      Luckily, I hired her away from that after a few years, even though ironically I wasn't even as old as she was when she graduated.  And I had to teach her how to write a memo.  And teach her it was not OK to talk trash to vendors.  And on and on.

      But luckily, she made the most of it from there.

      •  True story. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I have an MBA from a top-ten business school.  I went straight from my English major/Drama minor BA to business school (and it damn near killed me).  My objective was to become a manager in the nonprofit sector.

        My first job offer out of grad school was in the area of finance and accounting for a major local arts organization.  I didn't think that finance and accounting was what I wanted to do, but I wanted to work for this company, so I jumped at it.

        But once I had the job -- and I kid you not on this -- I had to keep a post-it taped to the top of my desk for about the first year reminding me of where the debits and credits went, because I didn't learn that in business school and I had a hell of a time remembering what went where.  The fundamental concepts of accounting took a very long time to sink into my brain and become ingrained there.

        Everything useful I know about both finance and accounting, I learned on the job.  What the business degree got me was a foot in the door -- I was hired by one of my biz school instructors.

        "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

        by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 05:40:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  List "real" jobs... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rogun, sarahnity, rocketito, theKK, kath25

      I am always looking that someone has waited tables, lifeguarded, or worked in retail.  It says to me that they know what the real world is like...  If someone has only done internships, I think that they must have not ever needed money and never had any real responsibility.  Lousy jobs build character.  Internships don't.  

    •  get into a field with high demand and low supply (0+ / 0-)

      demand for and supply of labor

      "Reality has a well known liberal bias"-Stephen Colbert

      by politicaljunkie2008 on Thu May 10, 2007 at 10:44:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  any suggestions (0+ / 0-)

        on what those fields are right now?

        •  well it isn't just about supply/demand (0+ / 0-)

          it is also about what is a good fit. I love numbers, and hate words. so I wouldn't be good as say a journalist. so even if there were a lot of journalism jobs and few job seekers, I would still stay away from it

          I think going by what is a good fit is a far better criteria than what is your "passion" or what you were "born to do" due to the subjectivity and uncertainty (and guesswork) involved with the latter test.

          "Reality has a well known liberal bias"-Stephen Colbert

          by politicaljunkie2008 on Thu May 10, 2007 at 11:34:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, and resume tips, too! (7+ / 0-)

    It's almost a whole 'nother diary.  So if you have a site you like or friends with insight, please share.

    •  All that talk about "buzzwords" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sarahnity, apdva, kath25

      is bullshit. Tons of people will see those buzzwords and junk your resume.

      I support John Edwards for President.
      -8.13, -4.15

      by Eddie in ME on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:08:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A few resume tips from a career counselor (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kath25, WayneNight, Jocelyn

      Make it easy for the employer to see that you are qualified for the job. Read the job description carefully and specifically address how your experience matches the needs of the job.  

      If you are changing careers or starting off as a new graduate, I strongly recommend using a "skill based" resume instead of a "chronological" resume.

      Use simple, short phrases.  As a university career counselor, one of the biggest mistakes I see made on resumes is that job-seekers want to fluff up their experience on their resumes.  It's much better to list your skills, accomplishments and knowledge in simple, short bullet points.  Start each phrase with a strong action verb (eg., planned, organized, supervised, managed, designed, etc.). Do not feel shy about using the exact phrases that are in the job description. Just make sure you are truthful.

      Don't be ashamed of your experience in food service or retail.  Employers are impressed by hard work.  However, make sure you highlight the skills that are transferable into other settings.  For example, you don't need to talk about the sandwiches that you made at the deli. Rather describe your outstanding customer service skills; your experience working as a member of a team in a fast-paced environment; or your ability to meet multiple deadlines.

      Last, but by no means least:  PROOFREAD your resume.  75% of the resumes I review have at least one error. Ick.

  •  I figured (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, sarahnity, Boppy, kath25

    I'd add a link to georgia10's discussion about careers from the weekend.  Seems germane.

    oops. I hope the gate wasn't too expensive.

    The Nexus has you.

    by Dante Atkins on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:19:56 PM PDT

  •  From someone on the hiring side (13+ / 0-)

    I don't do a lot of hiring or interviewing, but I do some and I'm surprised at how few of the resumes that cross my desk actually tell me what I want to know about the applicant.  Keep in mind that I'm looking at technical people who usually have at least a masters degree.  Here's what I want to see from new grads:

    • a resume no more than 1 page long.  If you have a PhD with a ton of publications, make that 1.5 pages.  No more.
    • I don't care about your hobbies and interests.  I don't want to know that you enjoy country line dancing or fencing.  Unless by some stretch of the imagination it has something to do with the job at hand, don't put extraneous stuff down.
    • List all the classes you've taken that may be applicable.  Just because you have a degree in physics, I don't know what your specialty was.  I want to see all you've been exposed to.
    • List all the technical skills you have.  Every language you have programmed in, every piece of software you have used.  I may not want somebody who's an expert in that topic, but I want to see that you are open to learning stuff.
    • Finally, don't try to bullshit me.  If you have used a software package in one class, don't try to convince me you're an "expert".  You're not fooling me, you've just convinced me you're someone I can't trust.
    •  Research Skills (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, sarahnity, Boppy, Jocelyn

      Great point about research skills, esp. for those going from academia to the real world. (Heh.) A list of the specific research skills, analytical models, etc. is important.

      Speaking of which, I am suffering through my take-home stats exam. Ohmygod.

    •  So... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sarahnity, etherapy, Boppy, kath25

      it seems like some of your advice can basically be boiled down to: tailor your resume specifically to the job you're trying to get...?

      •  I think that is definately important. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, sarahnity, kath25

        especially at an entry level where you really aren't specialized enough to only be applying to one type of job.

        Customizing shouldn't be a major rewrite, just emphasizing the more topical things for each job.  (i.e. your math skills would be highlighted higher up on the page for an accounting assistant versus a basic office assistant job etc.)

      •  Well, tailor it to the field (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, rocketito, kath25

        In my field, you could be applying to a bunch of different companies, but you are essentially applying for the same job.  

        It doesn't hurt to try to tailor it to the specific employer, but when you grab verbiage off our website job description and put it in your job objective, it's a bit obvious.  

        That reminds me of more stuff you should leave off: really old information.  By the time you are graduating with a masters, I really don't care that you were valedictorian of your high school class.  All it says to me is that you are someone living in the past who can't let go of your former glory.  

        Yes, I am old and grumpy, how did you guess?

    •  Fencing? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, sarahnity, Boppy, kath25

      That is an interesting resume choice. Maybe you could include it if you were applying to be a master deli slicer...

    •  I listed courses taken on my resume outta college (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, sarahnity, kath25

      And it got me my first job! I had a BA in history but I wanted to emphasize the math, statistics, technical writing and computer courses I had also taken.  I wanted to show I was a well rounded person.  So it landed me my first job -- a modesst entry level job arranging travel for visiting scientists.

      I loved that job and my first boss was fantastic. I discovered my own apitude for computers and in the process gently dragged my boss into the computer age as well.

    •  Hobbies (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, tryptamine, sarahnity, kath25

      I don't care about your hobbies and interests.  I don't want to know that you enjoy country line dancing or fencing.  Unless by some stretch of the imagination it has something to do with the job at hand, don't put extraneous stuff down.

      The key thing to remember is that sometimes it is a good idea to list hobbies, if they do have something to do with the job you're applying for.

      My brother got his current job as an engineer because he listed on his resume that he enjoyed reparing and rebuilding automobiles.  The person reviewing the resume had the same hobby, felt that it carried with it some of the skills needed for the job he was hiring for, and used that factor to break a tie between my brother and another applicant.

    •  Have hired gazillions IT folks...good advice (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, sarahnity, kath25

      I would amplify the 1-page rule - never violate it. Use bold only to start an item, bullets are appreciated, adjectives are not.

      A personal letter can help in professional fields. Also, languages and willingness to travel are useful.

      References should always be checked first. I will never fail to be astonished at how many people give so-so or downright bad references.

      And my best advice, don't worry if you don't have all of the requirements including experience. An optimistic, energetic, friendly personality will surpass many deficiencies. Confidence is good but humility is far better than arrogance.

      Be grateful for denials - a job is a long term relationship and it needs a two-sided commitment to be fruitful.

      •  a lot of blank, white space is good also (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kck, kath25

        if your page is full of words, it will be harder for employers to read and absorb (quickly) what is on the resume

        "Reality has a well known liberal bias"-Stephen Colbert

        by politicaljunkie2008 on Thu May 10, 2007 at 10:57:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely, you got it (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I call it ALF = Adult Language Format.
          o  4 pages/presentation
          o  4 bullets/page
          o  <4sylables/word <br>o  Be prepared to only discuss the totals on the 4'th page.

          Oh, one other piece of advice, save the great sense of humor, sarcasm, and irony for dkos, leave them home for the interview and suppress it as long as possible until you're past the first three months. The hiring authorities have heard 'em all.

  •  Test Prep and Teaching Experience (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, sarahnity, Boppy

    If you're a great standardized tester, I recommend applying for a job at Kaplan or Princeton Review. I worked for Kaplan for awhile, and it's not a bad gig. The pay is good, and it can be fun. Though the application process is a bit arduous.

    It's really hard to get teaching experience, so if you think you ever might want to teach, look for chances in school or through something like test prep to get some experience. Even when I got my MA I hadn't ever taught, so I couldn't get community college teaching jobs.

  •  it could be the field I'm in (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vivacia, tryptamine, sarahnity, Boppy, kath25

    But in computing, it seems almost the opposite: recruiters are crawling all over campuses competing for new hires right out of college, whereas if you're 40 you'll have a harder time finding a job.

    "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

    by Delirium on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:24:36 PM PDT

    •  a few guesses as to why (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, tryptamine, sarahnity, kath25
      • A bunch of the market is being sucked up by a second dot-com boom of sorts, this one in "social networking". College students are assumed to have a better idea how to cater to this market, so it's kind of like you're getting a marketing guy along with your programmer.
      • Especially at startups, or places with startup-like culture like Google, they want bright-faced, excited people who are going to treat it as a passion, not a 9-5 job. You're not as likely to get that from someone who's been jaded by 20 years in the industry, and has a wife and three kids.
      • Although it's somewhat irrational since anyone competent should be able to learn new programming languages and whatnot pretty quickly, employers are always worried about people not being up on the latest technology.

      "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

      by Delirium on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:29:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've actually heard of companies that do this to (7+ / 0-)

        lower their health care costs.  Yet another reason we HAVE to fix the healthcare system in this country.

        •  Sad to say (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          vivacia, sarahnity, nataliegoldston

          makes sense -- young workers are less likely to have spouses/children/dependent parents, and less-serious medical maladies.

          Though, the poor insurance for students and out-of-work young'uns means that the insurance can still take a huge hit once someone gets hired. When I finally got my full-time job last year, I had a knee problem to get fixed. Many MRI's and Doctor visits later, it was. Poor insurance. Heh heh. Then there were the traveling vaccinations...

        •  yeah that'd make sense (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sarahnity, Boppy, kath25

          It wouldn't fix the mismatch between someone who just wants a 9-5 and a company who wants a startup-like passion, but it would at least prevent companies for passing people over for reasons that are not actually at all relevant to the job, like healthcare. Really there is no reason healthcare should be tied to employment. Either the government should provide it, or if you want to be free-market about it, everyone should buy their own private health insurance on the open market. But the current system doesn't make any sense from either a right-wing or a left-wing point of view.

          "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

          by Delirium on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:44:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  In addition to the health-benefits issue (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        A cynical take is that a lot of startups don't want people who have been around long enough to remember that their founder wasn't the first person to come up with that Great Idea and that everyone else who did went broke.

    •  Actually (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, sarahnity, kath25

      there's a real market for people who know the older languages to work on transitions from older systems.

      And, from a personal hiring standpoint, I am always more willing to hire an older person with a few languages under their belt, that I know will adapt to new languages more readily, than some fresh face with only Visual Basic under their belt.

  •  What about tips (5+ / 0-)

    for those who haven't been to college but don't have any experience?  Not everyone gets to go to college....  

    When I was first starting out in the work world, I had no college or work experience.  I finally got a job at a fast food restaurant solely because my boyfriend of the time had worked there and knew the manager; no other places were even willing to interview me because I "didn't have experience".

    •  Network (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, sarahnity, sja, Boppy

      Friends' parents? Former coaches and teachers?

      Ask everyone you know. Email your resume to your parents' friends. Friends' siblings. Siblings' friends. Anyone with a job -- ask if there are openings.

      •  Good advice (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, theKK, kath25

        I am a career counselor and I tell everyone, regardless of whether they have a degree or not, to forget about ads and internet listings.  It's estimated that less than 20% of the jobs out there are ever listed.  Employers generally only list jobs that are hard to fill -- for example, those that require significant experience, or they list those where there's lots of turnover. If you get depressed when you read those ads, there's your reason why. The very first place employers go when they want to hire someone, is to their network of colleagues, friends and associates.

        Instead of reading listings and ads, get out there and meet people.  Volunteer, join professional organizations, talk to professors, family members, church members, etc.  Meet people who are working in the kind of positions or organizations that interest you. They'll be flattered that you think they have cool jobs and that you bothered to ask them about what they do.  You'll be talking to people with whom you have a lot in common since you're interested in the same kind of work, so you'll find this enjoyable. Trust me.

        People love to give advice, so ask everyone you know for suggestions. I have students who have been hired into amazing positions because they interact with their customers at their McCrap student jobs.

        Good luck!  

    •  Good point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, tryptamine, kath25

      I got my first real job (not including working for the family business) the same way.  I was brought in by a friend to help with extra paperwork at inventory time, and worked there for the next 18 months whenever I was home from college on breaks.  

      Ask friends and family members to recommend you for any openings at their place of work.  Volunteering is another good way to gain experience and possibly make contacts.  You may be able to find work not necessarily through the agency you are volunteering with, but your fellow volunteers may know of openings.

      One more note on volunteering and resumes: I'm not sure how to dispel this impression, but sometimes potential employers might think that volunteer work was court ordered community service.  Try to convey that you chose to volunteer, not that you were forced to.  (This is especially important if you were forced to.)

    •  Anyone have any advice on this? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, sarahnity, kath25

      I tried to keep the diary somewhat narrow in scope since it seemed it would otherwise be way too long.

      But I would imagine much of the same advice would apply.  

      Even one computer class would definitely be something you could put down that would be of interest to employers.

      A temp agency would still be a great place to try.  They have jobs of all sorts and you don't need a college degree for many of them.  That would get you office experience and allow you to meet some employers and gain experience.  And a lot of their entry level jobs lead to permanent placement.

    •  Quite frankly, the best tip is to do everything (6+ / 0-)

      in your power to get into some form of higher ed - even community college or trade school.  I worked all through high school and college and had no problem getting jobs - simply by being tenacious in applying for stuff and working my ass of once I was there.  However, it was impossible to get anything more than a McJob, regardless of all the prior experience I had and all the contacts I had built up, until I got a degree.  

      I think many kids that think college is impossible were given bad information by advisers and parents, and the best thing to do is inform them of the options and help that is available.  

    •  Well, I left school at 16 (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, sarahnity, ktakki, kath25

      now I am retired at age 42.  So I know something about this.

      Your job at the fast-food restaurant.  Watch the manager and what they do.  Why they do it.  Volunteer to help for no extra pay - trust me, it will be appreciated, and you will learn something.

      Get comfortable with that, and taking on more and more duties for no pay.  Convert that experience into a job that's a step up, and do the same thing again.  

      Employers aren't looking for degrees so much as they are looking for value for money.  Give them that value.

      Trust me, by the time I reached my 20's, no one cared I didn't have a degree.  And no - times weren't that different back than.

      •  Actually, I think times were that different. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rogun, tryptamine, sarahnity, kath25

        My dad started in sales about the time you started working (he did the whole military/college degree thing, so he was quite a bit older).  In the late 70's to the mid 80's, his company would hire people without a degree.  Currently, they will not under any circumstances.  There are too many people with college degrees to forgo that requirement.  I suppose in certain industries, exceptional people are able to succeed.  But by virtue of requiring an exceptional person, that is not going to work for most people.  

    •  Two options... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, tryptamine, sarahnity, kath25

      Freelancing or working for a small business.  Both options are result-oriented, and you won't have to deal with an HR department that requires a degree or certification.

      I dropped out of music school back in the '80s to go on tour with a band.  When the band broke up a year later, I ended up driving a cab, though I ultimately ended up dispatching in the radio room.  It was a steadier source of income.

      In my mid-twenties, I'd saved enough to build a small recording studio and started recording demos for friends' bands.  Obviously, there was a lot of networking involved here, but I was in the middle of the Boston local music scene and had a lot of friends.

      When I hit my thirties, I picked up some odd IT jobs, including a year's stint at a biomedical consulting firm.  That gave me Unix skills and my first encounter with the Internet.  It was a small firm and my lack of a degree was not a problem.

      Soon after that, a friend passed me a tip.  A company needed a computer animator.  I'd been dabbling in this for a couple of years, using a housemate's Amiga.  The multimedia company I did animations for earned an award for the work I'd done.  And soon after that, the World Wide Web became a household phrase.  I was doing web pages when Mosaic was still in beta.

      More recently, three years ago I moved to a new location and got a job in IT.  My experience in a computer-centric recording studio, as an animator, and developing web sites made the difference.  It had been my first job interview in decades, but I aced it.  Wore a suit, had a nicely printed version of my resume, and tried to speak in complete sentences.

      Point is, make your own experience.  Make friends.  Document your successes.  Be a professional, even if you don't have a job.

      I'm back to freelancing, though I'd love to have  a job doing graphics and web development, provided the benefits are there.  But I'll only work for a small business.  I enjoy the cameraderie of a small group; sometimes it's like being in a band again.


      "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart." - Anne Frank

      by ktakki on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:14:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One more resource (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vivacia, tryptamine, sja, apdva, kath25

    Don't forget the campus career center.  You can often still use them as a new grad for at least a semester or so.  

    •  Some schools, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivacia, sarahnity, sja, kath25

      will let you use their services whenever you need them as well.

      •  Ask about recipricol services (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rogun, kath25

        I work at a university career center and many universities will honor requests for recipricol services.  What does that mean?  If you are re-locating to another part of the country, ask your university career center to write a letter on your behalf to the career center at a university in the area nearest to where you are moving. You can usually get a free consultation even though you aren't a student at that school.  If that doesn't work, many public universities will offer services to non-students for a modest fee.

    •  The career center (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sarahnity, sja, kath25

      ... got me my first real job, after a year of trying more or less fruitlessly on my own. I went back a year after I graduated and said, "I give up on trying to do what I want. Get me a high-paying [:-)] engineering job." I got interviews for construction engineering on refineries and for designing the bomb bay doors on the B-1.

      I took the engineering / construction job, paid the bills for awhile, bailed on that career track, got a master's, and eventually ended up doing something more to my liking.

      Just get started, is my advice.

      You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists. -- Abbie Hoffman

      by frostyinPA on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:32:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heh. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tryptamine, sarahnity, kath25, Jocelyn

      Does going to grad school count as a job?  

  •  So You Wanna be a Temp? (7+ / 0-)

    I've been a temp, and even gotten full-time jobs that way. It's actually a great way to get your foot in a door, any door. Once you've got the temp job, you will make connections. A friend got a full-time job through her temp boss who knew someone that needed to fill a position.

    Here's what to expect. Dress business formal and go to the temp agency with copies of resume in hand. At the temp agency you'll take a typing test, and demonstrate your proficiency with Word, Excel and Powerpoint. You'll interview with a few people.

    Know the average hourly rate in your area, because you will be asked what you're willing to work for. Keep in mind that the temp agency also gets paid a few bucks an hour on top of what you're asking for.

    They'll ask if there are any industries you don't want to work in -- for instance, medical, legal, etc. They'll ask what you really want to do. It's in their best interest to get you the best match possible -- makes them look good.

    Be confident! Impress them. There are always jobs waiting to be filled, so you might walk out with a hire.

  •  Words of wisdom (11+ / 0-)

    When you're first starting, you may have to take a job that's not ideal, but don't get trapped in it! (I learned this from personal experience.) Most first jobs expect you to leave after a couple years, especially in politics. Don't be afraid to. Remember: the job market looks a whole lot better after that first job.

  •  Well (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rogun, sarahnity, Boppy, dufffbeer, kath25

    Temp agencies helped me out when I was out of work. After I was laid off from my job, when my unemployment ran out, I started temping. It brought in some money to mitigate against the financial pressures of being out of professional. While the $12 an hour was much less than my professional salary, it at least got me out of the house and brought in money.

    When I first left graduate school I temped. It helped me make connections and get into my field. I was able to meet key individuals, arrange interviews, and start my career.

    I do recommend not going to graduate school directly from college. I made that mistake. I say this because, in hindsight, I wish that I worked a year somewhere and then went to school. For, when I started looking for jobs after I got my MA, I ran into difficulties.

    Entry-level employers wouldn't consider me because they said that I was "overqualified." They were concerned that the pay was too low for me and that I would leave in six months or a year once "something more suited to my level of degree" appeared. Mid-level employers wouldn't consider me either because I didn't have that one or two years of professional experience. So I was stuck in the middle.

    It created problems for me. So my suggestion is to work a year or two before going for an advanced degree. I went directly mainly because I was afraid that, if I didn't go immediately, I would never go. I thought it would be much more difficult to make the transition from working to being a student again. For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

    by jiacinto on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:34:41 PM PDT

    •  Oh, absolutely! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      keirdubois, sarahnity, Jocelyn

      I got my MA after a year off, which helped tremendously when I went back on the job market.

      I had way too many friends though that went straight to the MA or got it before getting any real work experience, and it took them twice as long as the average to find their job.

      Honestly, being educated can be a big problem in the job market -- a lot of HR people don't want to hire someone who's smart, because you might move up the ladder or leave too quickly, leaving them with more jobs to fill.

      NYU's Admissions Office (I am so calling you bastards out on this) were like that -- said I was too smart for the entry job and too inexperienced for the next one up. I wanted to ask, "what do you tell your graduates when they ask what their own job prospects are out there?!"

      •  What did they say when you asked them that? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sarahnity, kath25

        The other thing is that I am significantly crippled by student loan debt. But honestly, in my case, I made the decision to go directly for my MA because I was afraid that, if I didn't go immediately, I would never go. I was concerned that once I entered the work world, it would be very hard to go back to being a student. For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

        by jiacinto on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:42:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I didn't ask. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But obviously there's no good answer. They would have just said, "get more experience," and I would have said, "how," and they would have said, "apply somewhere else."


        •  Actually, the difficulty in going back is a valid (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rogun, sarahnity, kath25

          concern.  I took some off between BA and MA, and it was pretty much wasted time.  While I was out, tuition went up (significantly), I worked in a bunch of low-end jobs making no money, worthless contacts, and generally being incompetent and miserable because the minimal qualification in my field is an MA (no MA=admin work, which I basically suck at more than anything else in the world), and just generally lost a lot of ground without building up much in terms of a future.  Also, downsizing in terms of car, apartment, and even food bought at the grocery store kind of sucked.  Now, as an added bonus, I am significantly behind my peer group in terms of career advancement and economic attainment (i.e., buying a house, building up an investment account, etc.) which is a superficial thing, but really bothers me when I meet people who are potential friends and/or partners.

          •  But so many people who go straight through... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sarahnity, kath25

            are deadly dull.  I'm glad I took off time - even if I did work in low paying, admin heavy jobs.  I experienced life - and life is not school.  The people I have met in graduate/professional programs who took off time are on the whole much more interesting than those who went straight to grad school from undergrad.   I think that employers also like to see that a candidate has true work experience rather than just school.

            •  I'm pretty sure I would be just as "exciting" (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rogun, sarahnity, kath25

              (ha, ha) if I had stuck it out in school.  Quite frankly, the admin jobs added nothing to my life experience (aside from a lot of bitterness and frustration).  I worked all through college, so it's not as if I was unaware of the working world (aside from getting through my thick skull that me + admin job = bad, bad news for everyone regardless of the effort exerted). I'm also pretty sure my employers were fairly unimpressed with my prior work experience.

              •  Not to be obnoxious or parental... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                but bitterness and frustration are helpful sometimes.  At least you learn what you don't want to do, and once you reach management, you learn not to treat your employees as you were treated.  

                My real point though is that everyone should be a ski bum for at least one year... because it is fun.

                •  Most of us don't have the option of ski bum life. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  When I graduated I had loans and no money and parents who were not going to give me pocket money so I could trot off to Europe.  I worked in an office because I had to, not because it was a character building exercise. And this

                  At least you learn what you don't want to do, and once you reach management, you learn not to treat your employees as you were treated.  

                  not worth wasting years of work experience and earning potential learning.

                  •  There are plenty of office jobs (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rogun, kath25

                    in Aspen, Vail, Sun Valley, Telluride or any other number of places - not to mention jobs in hospitals, management jobs at ski resorts, or very fancy restaurants.  What it takes is creativity.  There are plenty of people in all these places without college degrees, or with college degrees with plenty of student loans.  I know waitstaff who make $250/shift with tips, office staff who make $13-$20/hr, and EMTs who make $15/hr --  all which come with a ski pass and some lucky ones with housing...

                    I just want to point out how many options there are for graduating seniors.  Don't limit yourself and have fun - you are only young once.  You can tell yourself forever that you can't afford it, that it will hurt your career - whatever it is... but in the long run, you'll be happy you did it.  I don't know anyone who spent a season in a vacation resort who regretted it.

    •  Grad school plans (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      keirdubois, rogun, dufffbeer, kath25, Jocelyn

      Taking a year off to get experience is a good thing (I did it too.)  But have a definite plan of when you are going to leave the workplace and go back to school.  I saw way too many people say, "I'll go back to school someday," but once they were out making money and having nights and weekends free, it was too tough to leave that behind and go back to school.

      Similarly, if you are in grad school and just about finished, don't take a job assuming you can finish your thesis while working.  There are a whole bunch of people out there with 90% of the work done and no degree, because they just didn't get around to writing that last chapter.

    •  Right. Work before MS. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sarahnity, kath25

      I went back after working for 5 years. Job experience also helps you focus on what you might want to learn in grad school. Really, you don't know that much about yourself right out of college.

      And you might be lucky enough to find a career and employer where you'll never need to go back to school. My brother did. My boss did.

      As for the transition, the two grad schools I went to had evening classes and catered to working stiffs. Just don't try to take more than 2 classes a semester.

      Also, if you think you might want to go back full time, for heaven's sake, don't buy a house or saddle yourself with car payments or big expenses while your're pulling down that Real World salary. You're gonna have to live like a college student again!

      You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists. -- Abbie Hoffman

      by frostyinPA on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:40:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tried that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sarahnity, kath25

        Can't find a job.  They all want people wiht masters degrees.

        •  Did you apply (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          for that thing I sent out?

          (Another bonus of being on the mailing list, folks!)

          •  I'm mostly just waiting to hear back... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ...from the Campaign Corps now.  I haven't sent an application for anything else in months.

            My resume was one of 72 out of 275 that was selected for the second round.  My second round phone interview is on Monday.  

            There are 30 seats available.  At this point, I'd say my odds are about 50/50.

            •  Good luck!! (0+ / 0-)

              How exciting! I hope you get it.

              Are you looking nationally or only in your area?

              •  I'm mostly looking in... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ...PA, NJ, MD, DC, and VA.  Espeically VA, as I have experience working on a campaing there, and as there are a shockingly large number of Democratic campaign opportunities that come up in that state.

                As for locally, the "nearest" job opportunities I've looked at have been in Harrisburg.  Nothing really opens up there.  When Stetler was still in the legislature, I could ask for help from him and his staff.  But, unfortunately, Rep. Stetler couldn't even find new jobs for his staff when he left Harrisburg, let alone someone who doesn't have employment.  One of Stetler's former staffers now works for the PA HDCC, so I've kept contact open with him.  And, I sent my resume to State Rep Mark Cohen, after leaving a comment in one of his diaries here on Kos.

                Beyond Harrisburg, there's not a lot I'm interested in locally.  The Democrats here are fairly anemic.  There's only one Democratic leaning state legislative district in the entire county.  There hasn't been a competetive race for Congress here since 1974, and there hasn't been a Democratic congressional victory here since 1964.  Swann and Santorum both won my home county comfertably, even while going down to massive defeats state-wide.

                Simply put: There are no local political job opportunities.  At all.

      •  Well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I am taking a class in Arabic at night because I've already wanted to learn that language. On top of my full time, going to school at night has been stressful. Just going to one class is hard. For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

        by jiacinto on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:34:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Master's Degree trap (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've had the same problem.  I know for a fact that my Master's cost me one job.  That's why for the most part I stopped listing it on my resume.

  •  Having left school at 16 (8+ / 0-)

    my mantra now is, don't expect your first jobs to pay you in anything but experience.

    Take that awful job - watch and learn from the people above you.  Move on - make a bit more than a pittance and watch and learn from the people above you there.  Move on, rinse, repeat.

    This is how I traded up from being homeless and on the street at age 16 to having a private window office on the 50th floor in Manhattan by age 21.

    Later, being a business owner myself, I was absolutely astounded by the number of employees who weren't willing to be put in a position where they could learn something new, unless they were paid to do so.  Of course, as a business owner, although I was willing to give them the opportunity, of course I wasn't going to give them the compensation until they had proved their worth.

    It is taking the chance to prove your worth that is invaluable.

    So who would have thought a shitty typing job in a printing plant would have translated so well?  But it does, if you watch, learn and be willing to defer the rewards.

  •  One tip that has worked for me... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eugene, vivacia, rogun, sarahnity, Boppy, kath25

    Others have mentioned that listing travel or some other random activity tends to generate conversation and interest.  I realized how true this is when I was interviewing at a biotech company for a chemistry position.  

    They did assess my technical skills, but they were more interested in when I was an undergrad I did research in Antarctica for a few months.  I also made a little witty comment in my resume ("We also played soccer with Emperor penguins, an important addition to our research").  Oddly enough, we talked more about penguins than we did about my technical experience.

    Fact is, people can look at a resume and in 5 minutes essentially decide what your experience and expertise is.  It's the personality they are after at that point.

    Raise hell --Molly Ivins

    by Jocelyn on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:44:41 PM PDT

    •  So true (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rogun, kath25, Jocelyn

      The world is full of people who could do that job you are interviewing for.  Your boss is trying to find someone who will fit in with that company.

      Don't forget you should treat the interview as a time to interview them as well.  If you are looking for a career position (rather than just any paying job) find out whether this is a company you will want to work for.  In our business, it usually takes 6-9 months before a new hire is really productive, so we want to make sure that when we hire someone, they are going to want to stick around for at least a couple years.

    •  Right. Penguins. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      keirdubois, sarahnity, kath25, Jocelyn

      That's brilliant. When I interviewed, I would describe the 18 months I left the job market to travel as "Well, I'd saved my money after the first job so I retired at 25." It got a conversation going and defused the Awful Gap in my resume.

      As an interviewer, I'm always looking for something to draw the other party out. For an entry level hire, I'm looking for

      • a degree that says you were exposed to the basics in my field
      • maybe some grad assistant, research, or intern experience that shows you've at least used your learning, and finally
      • a sense of humor, passion, interest, or some other way to gauge how you'll fit in to the mix we've already got.

      Oh, and if you can summarize your life on one page with bullets, you'll have mastered the art of business communication.

      You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists. -- Abbie Hoffman

      by frostyinPA on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:48:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Okay I haven't read this yet but... (4+ / 0-)

    after spending the last few weeks collecting applications for an entry level position. I have one piece of advice.  BRING A DAMN PEN WITH YOU AND KEEP ONE BY THE PHONE.  

    Sorry but I have 6 people traipse through my office today and not a one had a pen!

  •  Some Advice (6+ / 0-)

    Move to India.  This is where my company does most of its entry-level work.  You could also move to India now and then apply to return to the U.S. under the H1-B visa program.  This will make you more desirable as an employee to companies like mine.

    Beyond this, it is hard to offer advice to people who want to enter a white collar profession these days.  I would advise looking for a job in government, first of all, rather than private industry.  There is more security and -- although the work might not be all that exciting -- you will probably be treated more fairly as an employee.

    Another place you might want to apply is in the corrections/incarceration industry.

    Middle Class Mother-F!cking Warrior

    by bink on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:53:14 PM PDT

  •  Entry into the US government (8+ / 0-)

    If you are interested in entry level positions into the US government, the best way to get your foot in the door are the various fellowship and professional developoment programs around the area.

    For PhDs in the sciences ("hard" and "soft" sciences):  AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship.
    I am a AAAS fellow at the moment, so if you have any questions, ask away.  Scientists are placed in Congressional or Executive offices in the government for 1-2 year tenures.

    For Master's and higher:  Presidential Management Fellowship.  PMFs spend two years in various government offices.  They typically rotate through 2-4 offices during the fellowship period.  I great opportunity to see many offices and gather different types of experience.

    For Bachelor's: try the Government Accountability Office!  This is the announcement for a professional development program at the GAO.  Another great opportunity to see the inside of a cool US government organization.

    I hope that helps someone!

    Mero nom Mote Dai ho. Ke cha?

    by Mote Dai on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:54:31 PM PDT

    •  I've had a friend trying to push me in the... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mote Dai, sarahnity, kath25

      ...direction of a government job for a few years now.  He himself is a federal marshall, and thinks I should try to find a position with an executive agency.

      I'm lukewarm on the idea.  

      One, I'm more interested in politics than being a non-partisan public servant.

      Two, I'm less than certain there are any executive branch positions that I'd be a good fit for.

      And, finally, I can't stomach the thought of working for the government as long as the current administration is in power.  I realize that the career positions aren't supposed to be "political," but I have very little faith that that means anything anymore.

      •  government jobs (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rogun, sarahnity, kath25, WayneNight

        I think you can find what you are looking for (a more political role), but those are typically not entry level positions.  You need to gain some government experience first, and make some connections.  You can intern on The Hill, but you don't get paid.  I think the PMFs can now work on The Hill as well, so that is another way to get experience or get noticed.

        I know it is hard to disconnect the current administration from "the government" but so much of what the US government does is not affected on a daily basis by the man or woman living in the White House.  I am fairly sheltered from politics in my current position (and the few "political appointees" I have met have actually been quite good...which did come as a surprise).

        If you are looking for policy jobs, you have to keep in mind that there are generally two types of "policy" offices: policy developers and policy implementers.  The developers (aka, "The Dreamers") develop the policy, but they do not have the budget to implement.  Implementation is handed to a program management office (aka, "The Doers").  The Doers implement and manage the project with a given end point in mind.  The Dreamers can define the goals, but they cannot directly tell The Doers how to implement the project.  Program management experience in the US government is worth its weight in gold (TONS of contractors/consultants hire folks with this experience).  

        Mero nom Mote Dai ho. Ke cha?

        by Mote Dai on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:41:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Experience (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mote Dai, sarahnity, kath25

          You need to gain some government experience first, and make some connections.  You can intern on The Hill, but you don't get paid.

          That's where I screwed up.  I have lots of local and state internships, but no Hill experience.

          The worst mistake of my life was the time I spent a semester in Washington D.C. and didn't take an internship on the Hill.  I was offered an internship with Congressman Joe Hoeffel's office.  I interned with a State House of Delegates campaign in Virginia instead.  I liked the candidate, I hated the incumbent, and the campaign seemed a whole lot more interesting.  So, why not?

          HUGE mistake.  The working environment turned out to be tense, because half of the campaign staff hated the other half.  Our candidate lost.  And, worst of all, none of the campaign staffers have bothered with staying in touch with me, so I got ZERO contacts out of it.

          I can't afford to take an unpaid Hill internship now, becuase I simply lack the resources to move to D.C. for something like that.  Had I taken the Hoeffel internship when it was offered, I would have been able to intern at a time where I had on campus housing and an on campus meal plan at AU's Tenley campus.  

          •  working for campaigns (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If you want campaign experience for that sort of job, it is a great idea.  However, if you are doing it with the idea of getting a job out of it, it is a hard and risky road.

            An acquaintance recently considered a position at a Democratic candidate's campaign office.  He said the office environment was tense already...and the current staff was somewhat circumspect of others joining now (thinking they will eventually compete for positions if the candidate wins).  They didn't see help for the campaign, they saw potential competitors for future jobs.  It really makes no sense and it really, really turned him off.

            I do find it difficult to get meaningful experience on The Hill.  It is such a specialized environment...and it is hard to extrapolate experience from a business environment into Hill experience.  Even many of the menial staff positions have "must have Hill experience" in the job listing.

            One tactic that another acquaintance uses to get Hill contact is to develop an issue.  In other words, he finds an issue that Congressional Offices may find interesting and develops a PowerPoint about that topic.  He then emails numerous offices the presentation and a little background blurb.  He typically gets 1-3 offices that request additional information or a face-to-face. He gives the presentation...and now he can say he briefed Congress or a Congressperson an a certain issue.

            Mero nom Mote Dai ho. Ke cha?

            by Mote Dai on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:16:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Nice Diary (5+ / 0-)

    The advice is much appreciated.

    Obama-Villaraigosa 08'!

    by SoCalLiberal on Thu May 10, 2007 at 06:55:11 PM PDT

  •  get involved on campus (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    April Follies, sarahnity, kath25

    I mean really involved. Do an internship.

    I do, and have counted that as experience. Though I almost went the temp route, I managed to land a job in time.

    Of course you have to stay like 3 years for it to count I think before you can move on.

    all Along the Watchtower...... blogroll

    by terrypinder on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:02:01 PM PDT

    •  Internship (4+ / 0-)

      This is probably the best idea in this diary entry.  I had two internships my senior year in college.  The first one led to the second.  The second led to my first job.  Essentially, I never had the "first job interview" experience, because they already knew me at my first job since I was an intern there.

      Also, go to job fairs/recruitment events for employers.  Especially if you happen to be female or the member of a minority group.  This will sound crazy, but some very large businesses will be trying to find you specifically there.

      Middle Class Mother-F!cking Warrior

      by bink on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:16:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The kind of internship matters, too (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sarahnity, kath25

      I have quite a few internships, but, with the exception of the internship with the state legislature, they were all local and didn't really provide many contacts out of my area.

      None of my internship contacts can really do anything for me.  The candidates I interned for all lost, because this is such a heavily Republican area.  The few local governmental officials I interned for don't have any positions open, and wouldn't have the budget to hire someone even if they did.  And, my legislative internship is no good, both because positions with the legislature are tough to come by, and because the State Rep I interned for decided to retire in 2006.  Most of his staff left with him.

      The moral of the story: It's not enough just to have internships.  Try to find internships or internship programs in places like D.C., with people who you know are going to be around and might be able to extend options to you in the future.

  •  Keep Volunteering!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarahnity, theKK, Jocelyn

    The great thing about volunteering is that you can always find someone willing to let you work for free. Try the library, the soup kitchen. Get into some position of authority -- whether you manage the preparation of a meal once a month or provide top-notch customer service, you can put real skills on your resume.

    Plus, it gets you out of the house and into the world. Sitting on the couch is bad for your energy level!

  •  The three most important things: (5+ / 0-)
    1.  What you know how to do.
    1.  What you know how to do.
    1.  What you know how to do.

    Grades and paper may get you a job, but they aren't going to keep you in that job.  That requires ability.

    Teacher's Lounge opens every Saturday between 11 am and noon. It's not just for teachers.

    by rserven on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:08:22 PM PDT

  •  As someone who's hired a lot of (9+ / 0-)

    straight-out-of-college kids youngsters people, I'll toss in a few words about what has sold me on one person over another:

    1.  The best answer someone ever gave me to a question about their relative lack of experience was to point out that I'd have the opportunity to mold them into the kind of employee I wanted.  :-)
    1.  I'm completely turned off by fresh-out-of-school whippersnappers twentysomethings who try to convince me that they know everything.  They don't.  They have a whole lot to learn, and what impresses me are those who recognize that and who express a desire to learn.  I like candidates who, for example, say they want to be mentored.  Always remember that there is a thin line between self-confidence and obnoxiousness, and try not to cross that line.
    1.  Similarly to #2, I'm really, really turned off by those who don't seem to even recognize, much less embrace, the concept of paying your dues.  I've had my fair share of straight-from-school applicants who want to start out in a management job and who can't understand why they can't have the corner office with the floor-to-ceiling windows.  Answer:  Because I said so, you little twerp.  (Yeah, I know that this sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I've had some pretty astounding interviews with some pretty mind-boggling kids in my time, like the kid who said to me one day, when I asked him to give me his references, "I'll give you my references when there is an offer on the table."  I shit you not.  I kicked him to the curb so fast his head was spinning.)
    1.  I do put a lot of trust in whatever gut reaction I have to someone in an interview, but where I really get the straight scoop and where my hiring decisions really happen, is in those reference calls I make.  I'm incredibly thorough with those.  So what others say about you -- former bosses, former co-workers, former teachers, whomever -- matters a hell of a lot to me.

    "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

    by Mehitabel9 on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:09:14 PM PDT

    •  Jerks (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      keirdubois, sarahnity, Boppy, apdva

      If someone is a jerk in the interview, imagine what they'll be like when you hire them!

      Yeek. Every college student should go on a mock-interview with career services before graduation. Nip that bad attitude in the bud!

      I love that first answer -- smaaaart!

      •  Trying to weed out jerks (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mehitabel9, kath25

        I'm trying to come up with good interview questions to weed out jerks.  I usually try something along the lines of, "Tell me about a situation where you were working in a group, with other people depending on your results, and you discover you've made a mistake that impacts their work.  How did you communicate and resolve this situation?"  Anyone who says they can't think of a time they made a mistake is out of there.  Likewise the guys that tell me their mistake was trusting someone else to do their job right.  (Yes, that really was on guy's answer.)

      •  Yeah, there are jerks... (5+ / 0-)

        and then there are those who aren't jerks but who are clueless.

        A number of years back we had a very young man working for us -- I didn't hire him, someone else did, but he was a good, bright kid.

        But he had one colossal failing, and that was that his behavior was completely incongruous with his age and skill set.  It was like he'd read all the "how-to" management books, and he'd talk in meetings using all of that jargon, plus he kept doing things like trying to "negotiate" with the CEO about things that were non-negotiable.  He had all the book-larnin', but none of the wisdom that only comes with age and experience, so he kept applying the concepts from the books in wildly inappropriate ways.

        Don't do that.


        "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

        by Mehitabel9 on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:19:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I too have hired many (7+ / 0-)

      both experienced and inexperienced.  For the inexperienced, it is all about the attitude.  A year and a half ago, I hired a guy who had no experience in the role, but he had a "can do" approach (sounds cliche, but it makes a difference) so I gave him a chance.  

      He put in the extra hours needed to learn things, asked questions and actually LISTENED to the answers, and worked his butt off.  He wasn't afraid to take risks, but was wise enough to know when to ask for help.

      He is now a manager with 15 people reporting to him -- all in a year and a half.

      If you are inexperienced and looking for a job, recognize everything in Mehitabel9's post is dead-on true...attitude is everything and if you are interested in learning, you might just get a chance.  Don't ask for the big bucks straight off...understand that once you prove yourself, they will come.

      Good luck all.

      The Meek Shall Inherit NOTHING

      by LickBush on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:22:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Woo-Woo, Recommended! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarahnity, Boppy, Jocelyn

    Way to go, KK!!

  •  For those who want a more politically oriented... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarahnity, ChiGirl88, kath25

    ...job, but are having trouble finding one, the Campaign Corps might be a good place to apply to.

    If you're accepted, they give you campaign training (which will look good on a resume), help place you on a Democratic campaign somewhere, provide housing for you, and pay a stiphend.

    •  Forgot to mention... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...and, this is a big plus with the Campaign Corps: After you've finished working on your campaign, all of the "Campaign Corps Alumni" for that year gather together in D.C. for a networking event.

      Do I know how many jobs have been gained from those events?  No clue.  However, networking seems to be a HUGE part of finding political jobs, so hearing about the networking event sold me on the Campaign Corps almost as much as the training, and the stiphend, and the placement, and the housing.

  •  Huge need for workers that's completely ignored (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rogun, sarahnity, kath25

    in the (gasp) insurance industry.  Insurance adjusters.  I know, it's not very sexy, but frankly, you don't even need a college degree (sometimes, depends on innate intelligence) and you can make 6 figures if you're smart enough.

    I have an adjuster at my company right now with 10 kids who work about 6 hours a day 5 days a week that make well over 6 figures.  

    Seriously, the insurance industry has not planned properly for the future and there simply aren't enough properly trained adjusters for the following fields:  construction defect, comprehensive general liability, first party property

    Economic Left/Right: -7.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.31

    by DMiller on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:34:16 PM PDT

  •  Ugh...job hunting (7+ / 0-)

    Bad memories.  Job hunting is an absolute drain.  Something has to give.  There has to be a better way than spending three months sending out thousands of resumes and filling out job applications (which is just like work only you aren't getting paid for it) only to land that elusive job interview that will subject you to further indignities (like standardized tests, urine analysis, background checks, further interviews to see how well you fit into the 'corporate culture' (cough cough BS cough cough), and rejection letters.)

    Something has to give.  Surely corporate America cannot continue to play this "we've advertised for this position for 6 months and haven't found a suitable applicant so we have no choice but to hire someone on an H-1B visa even though they're even less qualified" BS game they've been playing.  They should be hiring the first person who applies, and training them for crying out loud.  If they won't, what are they doing advertising the job opening in the first place?  I already know the answer to this...I just want to hear them admit it.

    Something has to give, somewhere.  We need a society where job hunting and job insecurity are not issues.  The question is how do we get there from here?

    Crab in the tank is money in the bank

    by canyonrat on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:35:56 PM PDT

    •  I've basically given up (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      canyonrat, kath25

      I have an application in with the Campaign Corps.  If that doesn't work out, I'm going to orient myself towards going to graduate school.

      The only problem is: I have no freaking clue how I'm going to keep myself from getting into the same mess, years from now, only with a graduate degree and more student debt.

      •  Next week's diary (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rogun, sarahnity

        is going to be about the choice to go to grad school. :-)

      •  If you want to work in politics... (0+ / 0-)

        and you don't get into Campaign Corps - why not look into a few other options...

        1.  Intern on the Hill - Little known secret - Getting an internship on Capitol Hill in the Spring/Fall is unbelievably easy - even in offices you might think are unapproachable.  When a job opens up, you are the first person they'll look to.  Make sure you are the most agreeable person in the world though - when they ask you to spend four hours at the copier, smile and say "of course."
        1.  Volunteer on any campaign.  (See #1 for more details) and the good thing about the campaign - even if they're not hiring now, they will be hiring soon when they gear up.
        •  Can't move to D.C... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

 take an unpaid internship.

          I don't have the resources.  And, I'll need my parents support for any such move, and they "won't let me" unless I already have a decent job lined up.

          •  I wrote a post above... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rogun, kath25

            about waiting tables at night.  The thing about the Spring or Fall is that you can say, "I can work M,W.F" and they'll be so happy to have you, they'll say "Great."  I've seen a number of people do this - and I am always more impressed by the people who support themselves while interning than the interns who are living off of Daddy while volunteering.

            Also, why not apply for a job in the federal government?  They pay a lot better than the hill... or there are a lot of great public interest groups who are always hiring for entry level...

            •  D.C. jobs (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              waiting tables at night

              There's zero chance my parents would let me move there and do anything like that.  Attempts at convincing them otherwise always end in yelling.

              why not apply for a job in the federal government?

              I discussed my views on this above.  I'm willing to consider it, but there are few positions I think I'm actually qualified for.  Also, I have difficulity stomaching the thought of working for the executive branch with the current crowd running the show.

              •  Save some money this summer (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                and move there on your own.  You can get a room in a group house in DC for probably less than $700/mo.  

                It is tough to stand up to your parents, but if the result is doing something you love, then you should do it.  I'll tell you it is much harder to get a job in DC if you aren't in DC.  If it is an option (i.e. if your Congressman/Senator is a Dem), you could also get a internship/job in your district/state office - which can often be a launching point to a job in DC.    

                As for Fed jobs, there are plenty you are qualified for regardless of your level of education.  It just takes a long time to get one - the hiring process can take forever.  As for the current crowd - despite the discouraging news about what has happened at DOJ in the Office of Civil Rights and many other places - there are many wonderful, brilliant, and even liberal people who work in the Federal Government.  You are letting the Bush Administration win if you won't even consider a job in the Federal Government because of their politics.

                The thing is, you have to want to do it.  You can come up with reasons why you can't forever, so I can't convince you if you don't really want to.  Just don't say it isn't an option.

              •  I know I have advocated Masters Degrees (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                rogun, kath25

                repeatedly, but I am getting the sense from your posts that the best thing for you might be to break free from your parents and get a real, full-time, adult job for awhile.  It may not be directly related to politics.  If worse comes to worse, you could find a job this summer that is marginally attractive and volunteer your heart out on nights and weekends.  

      •  I posted 3 jobs in jotter's diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        today, if you are still looking.

        I put them in there from time to time when they are sent to me.

    •  Brilliant, utterly brilliant (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      keirdubois, canyonrat, rogun, kath25, Jocelyn

      This is the key, this is by far the best thing that's been said tonight:

      They should be hiring the first person who applies, and training them for crying out loud.  If they won't, what are they doing advertising the job opening in the first place?  I already know the answer to this...I just want to hear them admit it.

      Something has to give, somewhere.  We need a society where job hunting and job insecurity are not issues.  The question is how do we get there from here?

      Right the fuck on, brother.

      How do we get there from here? Some thoughts:

      • Outlaw "at will" employment. If someone is hiring, they are providing someone with a livelihood. They are obligated to help that person become an employee and a good one at that, within all reasonable limits. If employers aren't willing to help develop a workforce and provide a living wage then they do not deserve to be in business.
      • Eliminate legal responsibilities to shareholders. Businesses and employers should be first responsible to their employees. Shareholders should get profits only after social needs have been met.
      • Pursue full employment policies. One of the core goals of the New Deal era, one of FDR's dreams, was permanent "full employment" - where everyone who wanted a job got one, and that the government would provide that job if the private sector were unable to offer it. As I said, this was a CORE goal of the 1930s and 1940s. It must be revived.
      • Outlaw offshoring. Simple as that. If someone has a job, that job cannot be given to another person unless the person already in the job leaves of their own free will or has committed some sort of unforgivable transgression. And under no circumstances can that work be sent abroad.
      • Stiff penalties for "downsizing," if not outright banning of the procedure.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:11:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ridiculous qualifications (6+ / 0-)

        My old employer wanted to hire someone who could do everything the person who had just left could do. They would have had no room to grow in the job! Half the shit they wanted, the previous employee couldn't do when he started!

        No one was good enough for them.


      •  Agree on all counts (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eugene, theKK, kath25, Jocelyn

        I don't claim to have any answers to this myself.  I've been both routes.  The corporate world subjects you to all kinds of indignities, work that may pay well but isn't alwsys fulfilling, and purported job security that evaporates as soon as they embark in their latest round of cost cutting.  A graduate degree is just a ticket into the rat race.  Getting out of the rat race means seasonal jobs that are easy to land and the most enjoyable and fulfilling work you will ever find, but not for everyone, not really something you can continue doing after age 35 or so, and you will wind up job hunting every few months.  I've done both.

        What does seem to work is the union apprenticeship model.  You spend a few years as an apprentice, have a marketable skill for life, pay is as good as somebody with a graduate degree makes, and "job hunting" consists of going down to the union hall, putting your name on a list and going back to work as soon as the next job opens.  I never went that route but in restrospect wish I had, and wish it were the norm for all jobs.  It's a path only available for a select few jobs...apparently still the norm in the IBEW and Carpenters unions.  But for how much longer?

        Crab in the tank is money in the bank

        by canyonrat on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:36:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Apprenticeship (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          canyonrat, kath25

          I like that as well, and I hope the electricians and carpenters can hang on to it. My fiance's dad was in the IBEW for a long time, trained as an apprentice and then a full worker until he became disabled. It worked well for their family, but it is a constant struggle to keep the apprenticeship system going, as employers frequently want to undercut it and the implicit power it provides to unions.

          I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

          by eugene on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:42:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yes! We need more vocational opportunities at (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          canyonrat, rogun, kath25

          all levels, even business and jobs that have traditionally been served by college or professional degrees.

          • particular, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            careers like tech and computer workers, and accountants, would be especially well served with a union apprenticeship model.  The professional certification and professional development wouldn't need to change, and in fact there is no reason why the college requirements would need to either (somebody in a union apprenticeship for accounting, for example, would take the required college courses and the CPA exam as part of the apprenticeship.)  The main change would be in how hiring is done - through an agency whose reason for being is to look out for the workers' interests - the union - rather than through those whose reason for being is to screen out as many people as possible and aren't particularly concerned about the interests of those whose resumes land on their desks.

            Corporate America made sure it didn't happen.  They don't want unions having any say in hiring and especially not any more careers where hiring is done out of the union hall.  They would just as soon unions go away and don't want them established in any emerging fields.  What did they give us instead?  At-will employment.  The "team" concept and silly emphasis on "corporate culture".  Temp agencies.  Right to work laws.  Offshoring and outsourcing.

            Crab in the tank is money in the bank

            by canyonrat on Fri May 11, 2007 at 03:14:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Why anyone would want to work (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rogun, sarahnity, kath25

      in corporate America is completely beyond me anyway.

      I did it once in my life, for 18 months.  I could not take it.

      My entire career except for that one detour has been spent in the nonprofit sector, and my experiences have not been like what you describe.  I've never in my life had to go through an HR department as part of the hiring process, never had to take a drug test, never felt like just another cog in the wheel.  There are trade-offs, obviously -- nonprofits in general don't offer as much pay as corporate jobs (although there are exceptions even to that rule), etc.  But to me the tradeoffs are totally, completely worthwhile.  I can't imagine not working in a mission-driven organization.

      Things like background checks are an inevitability no matter where you go anymore.  I had to have one when I started a new job a short while ago.  "Let me know if you come up with anything interesting" is what I told them when they told me they'd be doing a check.  ;-)  (They didn't).

      Having said that:  I would NEVER just "hire the first person that applies".  I do believe in training and developing staff and I have hired plenty of entry-level people in my career.  But I do very thorough interviews and I do very thorough reference checks, because like it or not, I do want to have a sense that the person I'm considering will -- not "fit in to the culture" so much -- be a good fit in terms of work style with the rest of their staff team and in terms of the requirements of the job.  If I don't think someone's detail-oriented, for example, I'm not going to hire them for a job that requires a lot of attention to detail.  That's a recipe for misery for all concerned, including the new hire.

      "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

      by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 05:02:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is great -- (0+ / 0-)

        I can't imagine not working in a mission-driven organization.

        This is so great to hear, and I think so important. People need to figure out what makes them tick, and go for that. My happiest friends are those who figured out what motivates them.

  •  The best way to beat the Grey Hair Ceiling (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarahnity, Boppy, kath25

    is to be your own boss.

    America is based on entrepreneurship, and why work for a corporation so they can fire you 2 weeks before retirement?

    Find a niche, and fight like hell.

    2 cents from someone under 35 whose resume looks like an absurd Oscar Wilde short.

  •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarahnity, theKK, kath25

    I just sent this to a wonderful young woman who is graduating this weekend.  She is a compassionate, super hard working Democrat and has had several part time jobs, but with a liberal arts degree, she's having a hard time landing a position that will pay the bills and have potential for advancement.  Even if she doesn't learn anything new (and I bet she does) it is nice to hear from people who have been in your situation.

    •  Good Luck to her! I graduated poli sci (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mooncat, kath25

      and when I sent out my graduation announcement it was with the news that like all good poli sci students, I was moving home with mom and dad until I got a job.  

      It's tough when you have a major you love that prepares you for so many things by virtue of its variety but gives you no direct path.  It is both a curse and a blessing.

  •  Sorry for crashing the party, as I'm not < 35, (8+ / 0-)

    but that Catch-22 experience requirement has never gone away for me.  After more than 25 years in my chosen field, even with a CPA licence and a Masters degree, I still am expected to prove unequivocably that I have had very specific, actual experience with certain things.  And in fact, it seems to have gotten worse the longer past age 35 I get.  
     Employers ask if I have experience with specific software programs, to the point that I've been turned down for interviews just because I don't have hands on experience with program X, even though I do have experience with programs A - W.  This is like saying they won't interview a taxi driver for a job just because he doesn't have actual experience driving a Ford Thunderbird, even though he's driven countless other makes and models of vehicles.  
     Employers are too lazy to look at a prospective employee's potential (subjective analysis), so they only look for very specific matches (objective analysis.)  It is ridiculous that they will pass on the 95% of qualifications I do have, most specifically the ability to think , just because I don't have an exact match for the other 5%.
     Of course, a big part of the problem is that I'm female, and I'm not one of those people who "pretend" to have experience that I don't actually have.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:45:19 PM PDT

  •  Suggestion... (5+ / 0-)

    get out of the corporate rat race. Find a job that won't remind you of every Dilbert strip you've ever read.

    Or if going to grad school, ditto for PhD comics. It is possible to make a living without doing it the way "everyone" else says it has to be done.

    ...the way you drop / is like a stone / make like you're flying / when you've just been thrown...

    by Diaries on Thu May 10, 2007 at 07:45:20 PM PDT

  •  My first job interview. (5+ / 0-)

       It was for a job at a movie theater - a total dive.  I applied twice and interviewed twice, and I never got hired.  But my stupid friend was hired immediately.  I was hired for plenty of other McJobs, however (including McDonald's).  But I'll never understand why I wasn't good enough for the crappiest movie theater on the planet.  Oh well, some barf just wasn't meant to be mopped up by me.

  •  I dunno how to react to this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keirdubois, kath25, Diaries, Jocelyn

    Should I feel happy that I'm still in academia and not yet having to worry about this stuff, or terrified that I lack skills should I need to return to the general job market?

    The last time I went out looking for work, outside academia, was around 2000, when I'd just graduated from Berkeley. At the time I was young and confident, but not in a bullshit sort of way. My attitude was to be honest. If I knew the answer to a question an interviewer asked me I would give it. If I didn't I'd say "well, if that came up, my first act would be to ask you - I'd be new here and I'd rather learn how the office prefers to handle this situation rather than step on toes and cause problems by crafting my own solution." Seemed to work well enough, I guess, I got one of the jobs I wanted.

    Part of me also reads this and realizes just how evil capitalism is, that such intelligent and bright and beautiful people feel the need to have to sell themselves, or downplay their education, or otherwise limit their horizons because of how screwed up our corporate commodified system has become.

    I also wonder how applicable this is to folks who aren't of a middle-class background. I say that not to be critical, or dismissive of the good stuff that is here; I guess I'm just troubled by the whole system and I want to find more fundamental ways to change it, and am worried that good jobs are becoming harder to find especially for people who haven't gone to college or who have a lot of debt or who have had other handicaps outside of their control.

    Finally, are there ways we can change the employers' mindset on some of these things? Can we convince them that having a lot of education isn't a bad thing? That the "experience trap" isn't something we should have to react to but a truly idiotic method that they are obligated to find a way to fix? Maybe you're just dealing with ornery, socialist eugene tonight, but as I read this, I see more and more reasons why the entire system of American employment is deeply flawed and more reasons why massive, even revolutionary change is needed.

    I am also looking forward to the podcast. I picture kath25 as having this endearing Jersey accent. I hope I am not disappointed. (I've met theKK before and so I know her SoCal dialect well.) ;)

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:04:17 PM PDT

    •  I think I sound muffled. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eugene, Jocelyn

      And like I have a lisp. But don't worry, my vowels can cut glass.


      Can we convince them that having a lot of education isn't a bad thing? That the "experience trap" isn't something we should have to react to but a truly idiotic method that they are obligated to find a way to fix?

      Not as long as HR departments are involved. Too many of the HR people I've met don't want to hire an ambitious and smart person, because they know said person will move up and out quickly and create another job to be filled.

      HR is good for culling resumes to good candidates, but I don't think they should be making final decisions. The potential boss and colleagues should be.

      I think it's also just really, really hard to recognize that there are way too many talented people for every job available, and it's hard to wait until it's your "turn" to strike it lucky. It's terrible. Esp. with the job growth being so stagnated over the past 6 years, esp. in terms of arts/culture/do-gooding.

      •  Ugh, HR (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rogun, kath25

        My first job right out of Berkeley was in HR. I got it through a temp agency, and it was at a San Francisco dot-com in that long-ago summer of 2000. I worked there for two months and decided that my soul and my conscience could not take it. I went and got a job at an environmental non-profit and was glad I did. HR is evil.

        Job stagnation is a real problem. As good jobs become more scarce, society seeks ways to limit the applicant pool, further worsening the crisis. In the end the only solutions are political.

        I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

        by eugene on Thu May 10, 2007 at 09:22:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Labor market problems (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      canyonrat, eugene, rogun, kath25, Jocelyn

      that such intelligent and bright and beautiful people feel the need to have to sell themselves, or downplay their education, or otherwise limit their horizons because of how screwed up our corporate commodified system has become.

      Another huge problem comes into play with criminal backgrounds.

      I have a 27 year old friend who had a somewhat messed up life when she was younger.  When she was around 19, she was accused by HR at a book store she worked at of "stealing" around $10.00, plus a few cheap items at the store.  She didn't do it, but the guy she was talking to kept badgering her and badgering her about it, and wouldn't let her get off the phone... So, she finally "confessed" to it just to get him off her ass.  She though that, at most, she'd lose the job.  Instead, her employer pressed charges, and she was convicted.

      So, that's on her record, and she can't get it removed.  To make matters worse, a few years later she was caught for a DUI.  She does take responsibility for that, she owned up to it at the time, and accepted punishment.  So, that's on her record as well.

      Since those two incidents, she's managed to get her life in order.  She found a job, she's engaged, she and her fiance are looking at buying a house, and she's working on an assoicate's degree.  She hasn't had any more problems with the law.

      Unfortunately, her current job has her working in a very toxic environment.  She's trying to find a new one, but, sadly, a huge number of potential employers just refuse to look past her criminal record, no matter how much she has changed since then.

      Our society is supposed to give people a second chance.  What kind of a second chance can anyone have, though, if no one is ever willing to look beyond their past?

      •  I was talking about this (6+ / 0-)

        With Jocelyn and her "plus one" a week or so ago. It's a huge problem - criminal records, even for something as slight as possession, can cripple someone for a very long time. Like debt, our society should offer people with a criminal record a way to overcome it - but instead, as with debt, we are instead using it as an excuse to wreck people's futures.

        I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

        by eugene on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:40:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unbelievable Irony (6+ / 0-)

          So at the bus stop yesterday I heard three students talking about a friend trying to get a job. I overheard, "So he got to a second-round interview with Phillip Morris but they found the DUI and that was it."

          Ok, should PHILLIP FUCKING MORRIS really not hire someone because of SUBSTANCE-USE issue?!? Anyone smell a little HYPOCRISY here?!?

          •  Well of course (6+ / 0-)

            Typical corporations - "it's OK for us to break the law, but not for you to do it!"

            I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

            by eugene on Thu May 10, 2007 at 08:57:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  kath, to be fair... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sarahnity, kath25

            Speaking, again, as a hiring manager -- my issue with a DUI would be less about the substance-use issue and more about the colossal failure in judgement demonstrated by someone who would drink and drive.

            But even so, if I suspected that an applicant has some kind of substance-abuse problem, why would I want to take on that particular pain in the ass by hiring him or her?  I'd be crazy to do that.

            "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

            by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 05:22:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I hear you. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I completely do. I just found it ironic coming from Phillip Morris.

              I wonder how they feel about employees who smoke? Worried they'll drive up insurance costs? :-)

              •  Ha. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I know for a fact that they encourage it.

                In a former job, a co-worker of mine went to their HQ to make a pitch for a major donation.  She said that there were ashtrays and packs of cigarettes laying around everywhere.  

                'Course, this was before smoking inside public buildings was outlawed pretty much everywhere...

                "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

                by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:45:40 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  But at the same time (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              At what point do we stop holding one mistake against a person? I lost an uncle to DUI so I am by no means minimizing that error of judgment. But should we use a DUI as a sort of lifetime punishment for someone on the job market? Do we not believe in the possibility of rehabilitation and learning from a mistake?

              All of us have made errors of judgment in the past. A DUI is worse, of course, than any I've made, but I don't see why that should disqualify someone from holding a job. I have a very real problem with that approach.

              Perhaps there should be some sort of de facto sunset clause for hiring managers - if someone's DUI is a few years old and they haven't had any since, I strongly believe it should be overlooked if the applicant has other strengths that makes them a good fit for the job.

              We really cannot be going further down the road of crippling people for life because of a single error in judgment. We MUST provide options for rehabilitation, to allow people to learn and grow and move on.

              I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

              by eugene on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:09:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I wonder (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                if admitting it up front and mentioning that the person has gone through a rehab/training program would diffuse the situation.

                Because to me, if someone can learn alot through their mistakes and demonstrate that it won't happen again, I'd be really receptive to that.

                •  One would hope. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  If I'd had a DUI I would probably try mentioning it up front...try and score points for honesty and forthrightness instead of praying it doesn't come out.

                  But, given this job market, there is sense to trying to hide it, as most hiring managers are looking for a way to cull the applicant pool.

                  I wonder if there might be value to sunset laws for DUI convictions and such - erase them from a permanent record or something much as is done with moving violations or accidents or bankruptcies after a certain amount of time. Obviously if someone has more than one DUI they should probably not get this kind of sunset protection, but for a first-time offender I think it makes a great deal of sense.

                  I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

                  by eugene on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:20:14 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  One question I ALWAYS ask (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    eugene, sarahnity, kath25

                    in interviews is "have you been convicted of a crime?"

                    If the candidate were to answer "no" and I were to find out he or she lied, they'd be outta there.

                    Answering truthfully is the way to go, IMO.  As I mentioned already, it comes down to a gut feeling for me, and if someone is completely honest with me, that goes in their favor.

                    "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

                    by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:56:27 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  That's why you're awesome (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Mehitabel9, kath25

                      And in your line of work it's also extremely important for someone to be up front and honest. But yeah, I think that's a fair approach to the matter, and it strikes the balance I was discussing elsewhere - lets you know how honest the person is, and gives them the opportunity to overcome a mistake.

                      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

                      by eugene on Fri May 11, 2007 at 09:02:02 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I AM awesome. (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        eugene, sarahnity, kath25


                        Seriously -- you can read how-to-find-a-job books from here till doomsday, but what it really comes down to -- for me -- is my sense of your character and work ethic.

                        The best hire I ever made was a young woman who, in her interview, was so painfully shy and nervous I could barely get an answer from her to my questions.  I felt so sorry for her.  She also didn't have any college education, just high school, which wasn't a huge deal for me since it was an entry level job, but it'd be a big deal for a lot of employers.

                        Anyway, it was an awful interview, but she had a pretty good resume and I just had a feeling about her.  So I called her references, and they were uniformly positive if not completely glowing.

                        So I decided to have her back for a second interview, this time with my boss, the CEO.  My boss at the time was a very good judge of character, and I would often have a candidate I liked meet her so she could "read the candidate's aura" as we called it.

                        So the young woman came back and I took her in to my boss's office and introduced them, and left.  I went back 15 minutes later to check and the two of them were sitting there having just a lovely cozy chat, and there was no sign of the painfully shy girl I'd met just a few days before.  My boss gave me the thumbs-up and I offered her the job.

                        Best hire I ever made.  She's brilliantly smart, self-directed and self-motivated, and an unbelievably hard worker.  I left her behind when I changed jobs six months ago, but I've been scheming ever since to try to get her back.  I hope I'll be able to do it, too.

                        "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

                        by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 09:11:49 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  And there's an area I disagree with (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      Is "have you been convicted of a crime", without any qualifiers really an appropriate question to ask?  I would go so far as to suggest it should not be legal to ask that question without qualifiers.

                      "Have you been convicted of a felony in the past five years" is an appropriate question.  Specific questions about offenses which specifically relate to the job - DUI if it is a driving job for example - are certainly appropriate.  

                      But I have a problem with the whole idea of asking a blanket question about any conviction.  Nobody should have to spend the rest of their life answering for something they did 10, 20, or 30 years ago.  And a misdemeanor conviction should not, unless it specifically relates to ones fitness for the specific job (DUI and driving, etc.), even be anyone else's business.

                      Crab in the tank is money in the bank

                      by canyonrat on Fri May 11, 2007 at 01:30:06 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  Well, I don't think something like that (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eugene, kath25

                can be legislated, really.

                Sure, people can be educated and encouraged not to hold old convictions against job applicants, but a law saying that old DUI (or other) convictions cannot be used as a reason not to hire someone?  I don't think it'd ever fly.

                A company could implement a policy about it if it wanted, but I don't think any company would want to hamstring its managers like that.  Companies, rightly or wrongly, are going to want as much power and flexibility as they can possibly get in making hiring decisions.  That's just the nature of the beast.

                I do believe in not crippling people for life because of a single error in judgement, I really do.  My younger brother, who I admire and adore more than pretty much anyone in the world, got nabbed on a DUI when he was about 21 years old.  It was a dumb mistake and one he's never repeated, and he's worked for the past 20+ years for the same company.  A steadier, more dependable guy you'd be hard-pressed to find.

                It really does depend on the person with the DUI and the person making the hiring decision.  I know in my own case, it'd end up being a real gut feeling as to whether the conviction really was some kind of youthful indiscretion or something else.  That's all I can go on is my gut feelings.

                I'll tell ya, though.  My adoration of my brother and his own DUI experience notwithstanding, I have a very, very low tolerance for anyone who would drink and then get behind the wheel of a car.  That's just below wife-child-animal abuse on my list of things that I find utterly reprehensible.  So I really don't know what I'd do if confronted with someone with that on their record.    

                "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

                by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:54:33 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know much about pardons... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          canyonrat, eugene, kath25

          ...but I was talking to my friend, and I suggested that she might seek legal advice about possibly contacting Governor Strickland for a pardon.

          The DUI might be a bit of a stretch for that.  However, if she explains her current situation - that she had a messed up past, but that she's improved and has pretty much kept her life together - I'm hoping that, maybe, she can get a pardon for at least the first of the two charges.

          She's looking into it, though she's also not getting her hopes up.  Neither of us have any idea about what kind of critera are used for pardons, how much time should ideall elapse, etc.

        •  It's insanity (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          canyonrat, eugene, kath25

          The current industry has so much control over what we're "allowed" to do--probably more so than the actual law enforcement.  My "plus one" is currently interviewing.  He had one with a Fortune 500 company 2 weeks ago... had to do a background check, drug test AND credit check??  What, because he forgot to pay his bills one month he's not qualified to contribute his brilliant scientific knowledge?  Or if he smoked pot once on a Friday night to relax after a stressful day of work, he is somehow less qualified?

          It's insanity.  

          Raise hell --Molly Ivins

          by Jocelyn on Thu May 10, 2007 at 10:37:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Devil's advocate, again. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Background checks are done for a variety of reasons but it all comes down to risk management.  My employer is a DV agency and we not only do background checks on prospective staff, we do them on prospective board members and volunteers, too.  The risk we assume if we hired the wrong person is too great not to do the background check.

            Credit checks are done (not by me, but by some employers) again as a way of trying to manage risk, the theory being that someone whose credit is in the toilet is going to be a risky employee in terms of honesty and reliability.

            And drug tests -- I don't do those, either, but I completely understand why they're done.

            Not every employer does these things just to be an asshole.  If they're doing them, they have a reason, and I'd be willing to bet that the reason has something to do with them being burned by making a disastrous hiring decision in the past.

            If you don't like how Fortune 500 companies operate, broaden your search to include other options.

            "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

            by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 05:29:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I understand all of that (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              canyonrat, rogun, Jocelyn

              But it is also well documented that the practices employed by Fortune 500 companies make their way into HR offices across the economic spectrum. I do not believe a prospective job applicant has the market leverage to either force change or find a job that doesn't intrude into their private lives, especially in this day and age of job scarcity and wage stagnation.

              So that's why I support regulatory action to rein in abusive hiring practices. Some Dems in Olympia had proposed outlawing credit checks on hiring except in a few industries and jobs, and I hope that such a measure eventually passes; using a credit check for a job applicant is a truly, truly evil practice.

              I also think background checks should be outlawed, but again with exceptions. The kind of work it seems like you do is a perfect case where a background check is needed, but for someone looking to work at Starbucks, or at Microsoft, or UW, it is not necessary and serves as a tool to preserve existing inequalities and to block upward mobility. I oppose credit checks for the same reasons.

              I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

              by eugene on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:14:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The problem is (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eugene, sarahnity, Jocelyn

                that even in at-will states, once a candidate has been hired, if problems start to rear their ugly heads, the employer puts itself at risk if it simply fires the employee.  

                I know it's true of everywhere I've ever worked, that the single greatest cause of legal action against an employer is employee-related -- either the employee suing for wrongful termination or somesuch, or the employer is sued for something an employee did that was unlawful.  In my agency, we pay huge insurance premiums.  You'd think our greatest exposure would be batterers, but it's not.  Our greatest exposure is our staff and our volunteers.  That's almost always going to be the case, at least in any kind of service industry.

                I'm not defending Big Corporations (gawwwwd forbid), nor am I defending truly abusive hiring practices.  But I've been in situations in the past where I've hired someone who turned out to be a disastrous choice, and just because the agency has to cover its ass in terms of potential wrongful termination lawsuits, we had to expend a huge amount of time and energy in documenting the employee's behavior, consulting with our attorney, etc.  In the one case I'm thinking about, even though the employee was caught red-handed doing something in blatant violation of company policy, we still spent close to three months dotting our Is and crossing our Ts before we felt that we could fire her without putting ourselves at too much risk.

                It's why I interview and make reference checks so thoroughly, and it's why I understand, even if I can't completely defend, practices like credit checks.  

                And I would even defend credit checks in certain situations -- if someone was going to be responsible for handling large amounts of money, for example, I'd think twice about hiring them if I knew that they were in debt up to their eyeballs, because that'd be an embezzlement opportunity for them.  In fact, given that I myself control large sums of money every day in my job, I could even understand if my boss had wanted to do a credit check on me before she hired me.  After all, if I was unable to manage my own personal finances, what reason would she have to believe that I could manage that agency's?  It's a fair question, ya know?

                A bad hiring decision is hugely costly, in terms of money, in terms of time, in terms of energy, and often in terms of staff morale.  Personally, I'll do anything within reason to prevent that from happening.

                T'ain't fair, I know, but the working world never has been and never will be fair.  :-(

                "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

                by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:39:44 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  All that makes sense (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  rogun, Jocelyn

                  As I noted elsewhere, Washington did pass a law this session barring credit checks except for those jobs where a person does handle a large amount of money, and I think that's a reasonable exception.

                  My view is that it should be difficult and expensive to fire an employee, and I'd even go so far as to advocate France-style rules protecting employment (when the government there proposed relaxing these rules for workers under 25, the riots and protests were so massive that it forced the government to back down).

                  Of course that does mean that hiring managers will understandably want to avoid making a bad hire. And I think there are ways to assess that without prying into someone's personal life, or without creating policies that have deleterious social effects, such as credit checks.

                  Ultimately there has to be some kind of balance - you need to be able to make a good decision, and the person on the job market needs to be able to get a job. I don't know exactly where that balance is, of course, but it's got to exist somewhere.

                  In the end this may be an outcome of much deeper economic forces. If jobs are plentiful, things like a background check or a drug test aren't so onerous, because it would be easy to find another job where that's not necessary; a labor market where labor is in demand and short supply would resolve a lot of these issues favorably for both sides. Unfortunately we're in a labor market where labor is not in high demand and is in great supply, so these kinds of protections that employers understandably take bite that much harder.

                  This has been an enlightening conversation! Thanks! :)

                  I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

                  by eugene on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:48:34 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  ... (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    eugene, sarahnity, Jocelyn

                    Washington did pass a law this session barring credit checks except for those jobs where a person does handle a large amount of money, and I think that's a reasonable exception.

                    That, I think, is fair.

                    My view is that it should be difficult and expensive to fire an employee

                    I don't disagree, and never fear, it almost always is.  Which is why so many employers put candidates through so many hoops to be hired.  It is understandable, even if it's not admirable.

                    As for the rest of it, yeah, I agree with you.  Hell, I'm pro-union (but don't tell anyone I said that...)


                    "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

                    by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 09:03:17 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  I understand (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  but if you check the references on their resume (they should be good references that are applicable to the position), shouldn't that be enough?

                  I just fear we're spiraling down a path of serious privacy invasion.  Think Gattaca.  I just agree with eugene; there needs to be a balance.  What that is, I'm not sure.... but it's a slippery-slope.

                  Raise hell --Molly Ivins

                  by Jocelyn on Fri May 11, 2007 at 12:36:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Security Risk (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              eugene, Mehitabel9, Jocelyn

              I think the strictness of testing needs to be weighed against the security risks of the job. When I was an office manager for a company that had to comply with SEC regulations, the bosses were much stricter about making sure that nothing could get them in trouble with the Feds.

              Interestingly, their drug/alcohol policy was, "do whatever you want on your own time, but if it interferes with your work, you're out of here."

          •  The credit check (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rogun, kath25, Jocelyn

            Should be outlawed for employment unless it is at a bank or other financial firm or is a job in accounting. There have been several legislative efforts in various states - including our own, I believe - to outlaw this borderline criminal practice.

            I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

            by eugene on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:10:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh SWEET (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rogun, kath25, Jocelyn

              That legislative effort was a stunning success - Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law last month!!!

              As an effect of this new law, employers in Washington state may no longer access the credit reports of employees or job applicants unless such information is substantially related to the individual's current or potential job responsibilities.

              Woohoo! Score one for Washington State Democrats!

              I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

              by eugene on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:25:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Speaking as a hiring manager... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarahnity, Mehitabel9, kath25

    ... well not acutally at the moment so don't send me your resume, but here are some thoughts.

    1. I want someone who I can talk to. Impress me at the interview with something you care about. I don't care if it is tuba or tropical fish. If you can do something well, you can probably do other things well.
    1. Proof read your friggin' resume. You lose a lot of points for errors in spelling and grammar.
    1. I hire techies. I know great techies with no degree or with a degree in something non-technical like music or philosophy. If you fit that category, you have to find your way to my peers in the companies you are interested in, and bypass the HR department who have stupid checklists. It can be done, but you have to be a good techie.
    1. I like to hire people who are easy to work with. If you come across as cooperative and friendly, that is a big advantage.
    1. I didn't hire Bram Cohen, though I knew him pretty well before bittorrent, so I probably don't know what I am talking about.
    •  Proofreading! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theKK, Mehitabel9, kath25

      You have no idea how fast your resume goes in the trash when I see something like, "I have goodly skills in speaking and writing."  

      •  Here's a question -- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sarahnity, WayneNight

        unrelated to proofreading. What if you need to leave your current job because your boss is crazy, but you can't get a reference from her because she's crazy?

        This is my friend's dilemma. She's only had this one job for 3 years since college, and needs to get out. There aren't any other higher-ups at the company, and she's only got one or two other professional references.

        Can a former peer be a reference?

        How should she explain to the interviewers why she can't list her current boss, or why she can't tell the boss she's leaving until she has a new job?

        •  I'm not the best person to answer this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theKK, kath25

          References aren't so important in my field, but here's what I guess I'd do.  I would say something like, "There were personality conflicts that were unrelated to my work performance that make me uncomfortable asking her for a reference.  Here are the names of coworkers who can vouch for my capabilities."   But she's going to have to go out of her way to demonstrate  what a joy she would be to have around, because personality issues could be caused by either party.  If she can, try to just avoid the whole issue by offering other references she has and not mentioning her current boss unless asked.

          Above all, stay away from words like "witch", "crazy" and "restraining order".

        •  She probably shouldn't sweat it. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kath25, WayneNight

          Many places will not inquire at you prior places of employment beyond the scope of dates of employment and job title, and many managers will either not go outside of those boundaries, or will not give a bad reference despite being totally bitchy and crazy and possibly dependent on prescription drugs (don't ask).  

          She should definitely not tell future employers that her boss is crazy, or let on that there is a huge conflict.  Most employers will not verify current employment until there is a firm offer at hand.  They know letting a potential employee's place of business know they are interviewing elsewhere is dangerous for the employee.  Unless your friend out and out lies (with dates of employment, degree earned, etc.), a reference check of her current job probably won't ding her.  

          If she absolutely needs professional references, are there any former professors, or contacts made through trade associations or volunteer work that she could ask?  They would probably do just as well as a former peer, unless the peer has a more direct link with the potential job in question.

        •  Get her involved with an industry org quick,,, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          if she had been doing something with a local chapter or industry group she could also include someone from that as a reference.  Often, a firm won't contact your current employer because you might not have told them you are thinking about leaving and you have no offer.

          She should also start thinking about accumulating other references, including other people at the company.

        •  Heh. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rogun, kath25

          Crazy bosses?  BTDT.

          I changed jobs six months ago without the benefit of a reference from my then-boss -- primarily because I didn't want him to know I was looking.

          I asked prospective employers not to contact my current supervisor.  This can hurt your chances with some, but not everyone will blink at this, particularly if you give them a list of references that include former bosses.  My current reference list includes one former boss, three former co-workers, one former professional colleague, and a former supervisee.

          It took four resumes and one interview to get a job offer, btw.

          When asked why you're leaving your current job, you can always say that you're ready to move on to new challenges or somesuch.  I think it goes without saying that saying "I'm leaving because my boss is crazy" is not a good interview technique, even if you happen to be lucky enough to be talking to someone who knows what it's like to work for a crazy boss.  Don't emphasize why you want to leave your current job -- emphasize why you're interested in the new opportunity.

          "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

          by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 04:49:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Here's what I did (8+ / 0-)

    After graduating from college in 1980, I went out bravely into a rather tepid job market. After a few soul-crushing interviews that went nowhere, I thought about things a bit.  The next interview went like this:

    "You don't have any experience in management that I can see on this resume."

    "No, but at some point in their careers, every manager here had no experience either, and I know this is a successful company."

    The interviewer paused a moment.  "Go on."

    "No one is born with all the skills needed to be in hotel management. Everyone had to start somewhere.  So I'm asking you to give me the chance that all of the managers here have had."

    "I'm sorry, we only hire people with experience."  

    "Well, then, where should I go to get that experience?  Where did your managers get there experience?  Because I'll go there and work for a few years and then come back here."  

    The interviewer smiled at me and started writing something on his business card.  "This is a friend of mine.  He operates a small Marriott franchise.  Go see him and tell him what you told me."

    I did.  I got the job.  Then, two years later, I went back and got the job I really wanted.  

    The point is this:  everyone has to start somewhere.  If some outfit doesn't hire newbies, then they have to hire them from someplace else.  Find that someplace else and work up from there.  

    It also helps to have a buddy or a partner who'se in this with you. I had Marsha, who helped me the interview strategy I described here.  Thank you, Marsha Watson, wherever you are.  

  •  A WONDERFUL DIARY . . . (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theKK, Mehitabel9, kath25, Jocelyn

    A few more hints from me (as someone who hires):

    (1)   Proofread!  Proofread!  Proofread!  And get someone else to proofread again.  Do not send a resume or cover letter with misspelled words, wrong grammar, etc.

    (2)   If you are responding to a job ad, read the ad carefully and write a specific cover letter to show how you are qualified for the particular job and why it would help the employer to employ you for the job.  I have gotten two (2) great jobs on the basis of my cover letters!

    Good luck, young kossacks!!

    1-20-09 The Darkness Ends "Where cruelty exists, law does not." ~ Alberto Mora.

    by noweasels on Thu May 10, 2007 at 09:23:06 PM PDT

  •  One last question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kath25, Jocelyn

    If anyone's still up, heh.

    How do you deal with job experience that is several years old? During 2000-01 I worked in three different kinds of jobs, and picked up a LOT of useful skills in that time...which I haven't always been putting to use these last six years as a graduate student.

    Since I'll assume HR folks and others reading my resume would hold that length of time against me, any advice on how to potentially overcome that situation? How to make my skills seem "fresher"?

    (off to take a shower after using the phrase "make my skills seem fresher"...)

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Thu May 10, 2007 at 09:50:03 PM PDT

    •  I'm wondering as well... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm about to embark on a PhD route, and it's a little different than my current expertise.  I'm worried about getting back in the game when I'm done (meaning back more towards what I currently do).  How do you deal with a "fresh skills" resume gap?

      Raise hell --Molly Ivins

      by Jocelyn on Thu May 10, 2007 at 10:22:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  talk about your research (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eugene, theKK

      turn each of your research projects into resume entries with bullet points.

      oh, and teaching college students is totally crisis management.

      are you not applying for academic jobs? or are you going on the market to be hired for fall 2008?

      •  I do plan to go on the academic job market (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In the hopes of getting work for fall 2008, but, I do also want to keep my options open, and this is a question I'd been wondering about for a little while. One problem is I'm not willing to move all over the country for an academic job - my fiance and I are both sick of living apart.

        I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

        by eugene on Fri May 11, 2007 at 07:36:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't generally consider that an issue. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eugene, kath25

      I guess it would depend in part on what you've been doing in the interim...

      "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

      by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 05:18:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        In my case I've been a grad student at UW since 2001. And while I am fairly sure I can get an academic job, I do want to have some sort of fall-back plan.

        I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

        by eugene on Fri May 11, 2007 at 07:37:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          what about ancillary-to-academia jobs, like archives and foundations and non-profits? Also, grant writing.

          •  Right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Well, I've not had employment outside of being a TA/teacher since I got here in 2001, but, your points about research skills, grant writing, as well as things like event planning, spreadsheets, website design and development, project development - I've done all that, as have many grad students, in the course of my education.

            So perhaps those are ways I could convince a potential employer that "hey, all those skills in the financial world I picked up in summer 2001? I still have them, because I did this, that, and the other thing while in school."

            Seems like a thin reed, but it might be enough. Let's hope I don't need to find out!

            I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

            by eugene on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:22:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I think of it as like riding a bike -- (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eugene, kath25

          if you've been doing something else (a grad student for SIX YEARS???? Ay yi yi) my assumption is that whatever skills you'd acquired before might be rusty but they'd still be there.

          "Do you know any reporters?" -- Jon Stewart to Matt Cooper, 4/23/07

          by Mehitabel9 on Fri May 11, 2007 at 08:58:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent work! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theKK, kath25

    I used to work in a university HR office, and believe you me, there were many people over 35 who needed a pep talk like this. I learned lots about how to help people write resumes and emphasize the things that they could do to help land an interview. In some cases, older folks were coming in for their 2nd or 3rd career, so the whole "experience" thing kind of applied to them too, since many had not spent much time at all outside of one particular profession before.

    But yeah, when I was up against this dilemma myself (oh jeez, it was at least 7-8 years ago), I crashed and burned like everyone else. 2 University jobs meant jack when I was trying to be a journalist. Had to take night school to land my current job in graphic design, but for that, I'd already had a portfolio of stuff I'd done for fun unprofessionally, like websites and CD covers for bands. Every bit of random experience helps- that big list you make should really be all-encompassing, no matter how trivial it might seem at the time.

    •  Oh and... (0+ / 0-)

      ...I say this as someone who fucking hates looking for jobs. I hate selling myself, I hate hate hate it- from selling candy bars door to door for little league all the way to trying to get club owners to book my band. This society is not geared toward people who don't want to step on each other. I've been able to kill the shyness for the most part, but I can't for the life of me understand the mania for competition.

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