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Mon, Oct. 20th, 2008, 01:30 pm
WINNAR!

PRO TIP: Do not make sexist or racist statements while filing your EEOC complaint.

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Yeah. I couldn't believe it either.

Wed, Aug. 1st, 2007, 11:05 am
The Job Fairy Presents a Special Report: How Not to Do Sexual Harassment

If you must sexually harass your co-workers, please understand that your decision to do it via email, text messages, and other written forms of communication will, you know, produce a record that can be used against you.

If you must accuse a co-worker of sexually harassing you, please understand that if you then take up harassing them in retaliation, they can file the same sort of accusation against you. Bonus points if you failed to learn from their tragic mistake about using email.

If you must get involved in a tragic, messy, sexual harassment to-do with your co-worker in which you both appear to be guilty parties, you should probably not then decide that it's okay to date the person you're filing the harassment charges on. Or, at least, if you decide that you must date your harasser/harassee, try not to go to the same bar your supervisor goes to. It sort of undermines your claim, just a little.

Now, the Job Fairy agrees that sexual harassment is Bad and Wrong. The Job Fairy kicks ass and takes names when people are being threatened in the workplace, or made to feel uncomfortable. The Job Fairy wants people to be safe in their jobs and to want to come in and work. But seriously, if you have an on-the-job relationship (which is a pretty drama-laden path to walk down anyway), and it goes bad, you should be aware that bringing sexual harassment charges against the person you wish was your ex is not a good way to get around that uncomfortable conversation where you're telling them that you don't want to date them anymore.

I'm just saying.

Mon, Nov. 13th, 2006, 01:53 pm
Helpful Hint: Don't come to an interview looking to pick a fight.

Last week, TJF had an appointment to conduct a hiring interview with a young lady who TJF is certain displayed some blindingly bright merit and worth in her earlier interviews. TJF is certain that this is true, because if the young lady in question had come into those previous interviews with the sort of attitude she showed up with to be hired, she would not have ever gotten to the "getting hired" stage.

All would have been well, perhaps, except that she wore a necklace to the hiring interview adorned with a shiny silver skull charm. As it happens, when not conducting HR business, TJF is a pirate enthusiast, so TJF was admiring the necklace (while questioning its appropriateness in the hiring interview, to be certain, but admiring nonetheless). The resultant conversation went a bit like this:

The Job Fairy: "And I'll need to get a copy of your Social Security card and your driver's license to fill out your I-9."
Skull Girl: (vehemently) "I am *not* a devil-worshipper."
TJF: (blinking) "I'm sorry?"
SG: "I'm not a devil worshipper."
TJF: (futher blinking) "It really hadn't crossed my mind that you might be. Not that it would matter if you were -- we don't discriminate on basis of religious preferences."
SG: (accusingly) "You were looking at my necklace."
TJF: "Yes, it's very nice."
SG: (smirking and weird) "It's a skull."
TJF: "Yes." (Makes mental note to have a conversation with the manager who approved hiring this person.) "Now, about that I-9...."

Here's a tip: If you feel particularly defensive about an article of clothing, perhaps you should not wear it to an interview. I'm just sayin'. Neither the tendency to pick fights nor a well-developed persecution complex is usually considered an asset in the job search.

Mon, Oct. 9th, 2006, 11:19 am
What not to lie about

I suppose that, as a moral being, the Job Fairy should advise you not to lie on your resume or job application ever at all. And, if you are a morally upright being, no doubt the possibility of lying to get a job will have never occurred to you, and good for you!

But for those who can't resist the temptation, the Job Fairy offers you the following advice: Lie in a way that is smart.
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Fri, Sep. 8th, 2006, 12:59 pm
Another interviewing tip

As it happens, the Job Fairy had a real live interview today for a position that's been damned difficult to fill. And behold, I'm not going to be filling it today, either.

But maybe the world can be a little better place because of it, I don't know. And this one thing I'm going to talk about probably didn't lose this person the position all by itself, but it didn't help her a whole lot either.

See, here it is. Everywhere, they tell you not to be late to an interview. This is, of course, good advice. If you're late, I have to wait, and it makes you look like a dick, and it makes me cranky, and none of that is any good.

What they're apparently not telling people any more is not to be horrendously early to an interview, either. Ten minutes early is fine. Fifteen minutes is probably okay. Half an hour is ridiculous. That means that either I have to drop everything I'm doing and reshuffle my whole day, or you have to wait for a very, very long time. So the best that you can hope for is that you'll get to feel like the company you're interviewing with is incompetent. The worst is that the person who was going to interview you was planning on, say, popping out for lunch in the half-hour before you were scheduled, and now they're cranky and not happy to see you.

Part of the screening process is often looking at to what degree an applicant is able to make and keep commitments. Being flippant about showing up on time does not make a particularly good case.

Fri, Aug. 25th, 2006, 12:56 pm
Special Feature: Questions They're Going To Ask You

In today's entry, I talked about not being surprised by the interviewer's questions. Here, for your reference, is a list of questions that you're likely to be asked. It might be worth it, if you're in the market, to take a look, and prepare answers to some of these. You won't get all of these every time, but if you're being interviewed by someone in Human Resources, or someone else who does a lot of interviewing, you're likely to get at least a few.

On to the questionsCollapse )

Fri, Aug. 25th, 2006, 12:10 pm
Interviewing, Part 2

Today, on a very special episode of The Job Fairy, how to utterly fail at interviewing. All examples given today were taken from The Job Fairy's most recent round of interviews, so this is in no way a complete list of how to flub interviews, merely a lovely little sample. Names have been omitted to protect the ignorant.

How Not To Interview:
1. Be ignorant of the nature of the company you're applying to. Bonus points if you reply to an ad, are called for an interview, and then, in the middle of the interview, discover that the company is in an industry that somehow offends you. "Oh, you do *FOO*? How awful! How do you stand it?" Very classy.

2. Be surprised by the interviewer's questions. Take several minutes of uncomfortable silence to blink and look stunned. Sometimes you can't avoid this, but if you've been on any interviews in the last five years, you probably ought to know that you're going to be asked questions like "Can you describe a time when you had a conflict with a supervisor, and how you resolved it?" or "Can you describe a time when you had multiple demands on your time, and how you prioritized or handled them?". Additionally, regardless of when your last interview was, a question like "Have you ever worked with Software X?" should not be a stumper. You either have or you haven't.
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Like I said, these aren't the only ways to blow it, but they're a pretty good list to start with. And, as it happens, I interview almost every week, so more examples will almost certainly be forthcoming. What fun!

Fri, Aug. 4th, 2006, 12:13 pm
Interviews from Hell: Part One

The Job Fairy has spent the week this week in interviews, which netted a whole new cross-section of poor career moves to talk about, hence this post.

First off, what does one wear to an interview? This seemingly simple question was a source of massive stress for almost all my interviewees this week, so it seems appropriate to start here. One applicant, interviewing for a nursing position, showed up in scrubs, and spent a good deal of time apologizing for it. One showed up in a suit, and spent a good deal of time apologizing for that. One wore a linen jumper sort of a thing, and played with her hem the entire time. One wore a pantsuit and did not call attention to her attire at all. Guess which one we're hiring?

See, here's the thing: for many, and I might even say most, positions, your qualifications are more important than your clothing. However, if you make your clothing an issue in some way, it can overshadow your qualifications. Good ways to make your clothing more important than your abilities include showing up in dirty, torn or rumpled clothes; dressing wildly outside of the company's dress code, wearing clothes that are closely associated with behaviors we don't want you doing on the job (a particular applicant in an "Is It 4:20 Yet?" t-shirt comes to mind here -- nothing says "Sending me for a piss test will be a waste of your time" quite like wearing marijuana lifestyle shirts in to the office); wearing clothes that don't fit, apologizing for your outfit, or otherwise bringing it up in conversation (if you knew it was going to be a problem, why did you wear it?); and fidgeting with your outfit throughout the interview.

The suited fellow was apologizing for his very nice suit, because his interviewers were in khakis. He looked out of place, which wouldn't have bothered me, but he felt out of place and was completely thrown off by it, which does bother me. If any little inconsistency makes you nervous and twitchy, you have no place in my company - I need people who can keep cool through a good deal more traumatic events than being dressed differently than the other people in the room.

The woman in scrubs was apologizing because she had just come from her other job. As it turned out, she had *three* other jobs, and taking the one we were interviewing for would have allowed her 6-8 hours off of work each day. Had she not called attention to the other jobs by apologizing about her wardrobe, we might not have discovered that, and hired her, only to probably have to let her go for her own sanity later.

How to avoid interview wardrobe stress? Here's a thought: When you are called to schedule the interview, ask "What is the dress code at your company?". Most people don't mind answering that one at all. Once you have that information, try to aim for the nicer end of that category, or, if necessary, go one category more formal.

Also, don't step too far out of your comfort zone. I'm guessing the jumper woman was not a person who habitually wore dresses, or at least, who did not habitually wear dresses that were knee-length, prompting her to twiddle her hemline like a third-grader in the school musical during the entire process -- this is distracting as all hell, and I couldn't now tell you much of anything that she said about herself. All I've got on her is, "Wow, she was nervous and uncomfortable". Not what I'm looking for, but thanks for your time.

Next week, I'm thinking interviewing part two: What not to say while you're there.

Fri, Jul. 28th, 2006, 02:22 pm
Applications? Doesn't that mean I'd have to, like, apply myself?

Let's talk about applications. I mention this because, even though I would think that "Fill in all relevant information" would be similar enough to "Fill in the blank" that anybody who had attained an elementary-school level education would be able to manage it, and yet, almost every week, somebody proves me wrong.

First off, why would you have to fill out an application for any job of a higher level than record store clerk? For the same reasons you'd fill one out for a job as a record store clerk, except more so. Resume writing is the art of telling people what you want them to know about your work history; the application lets you tell me what I want to know. And, you know, gives me the ability to track down your job history and see if you're, you know, making it all up or not.

So here's what *not* to do:
1. Don't fill out an application in crayon, or, for bonus points, eyeliner pencil. This is something I don't see a lot of, but I have had a few, and it does make an impression...

2. Don't skip the entire sections relating to employment history and education and write "See resume". See, I want to know things that probably aren't on your resume, like who to call to check that the job you describe on your resume as "Strategic professional responsible for market analysis and leadership decisions, with special emphasis on contracts" wasn't really something more like "The mailroom clerk, who orders the office supplies and signs the maintenance agreements on the copiers". Because, you know, that never happens.

3. (Here's my favorite.) Sometimes, I get applications where someone has filled out their name and address, and then left the rest of the app blank. The Job Fairy, ever seeking knowledge, pursued one of these intrepid speed-appliers, and asked, "Why in the world would you ever do this?" The answer: "I figure, if they want to know more about me, they'll call me and ask." Let me repeat that, in case you were blinded by the stupid. "I figure, if they want to know more about me, they'll call me and ask." So what, I'm supposed to want to give you a job because I like your last name? I used to know a guy who lived on your street? Sorry, children. I'm not calling you. At this point, I know everything I need to know. I mean, it's still a toss-up between too lazy to fill out the paper, and unable to follow directions, but hey. Sometimes you don't need all the details to make a decision.

4. Don't make up job history. I'm going to call. I'm probably going to call everybody you list. If I have to spend my day calling a lot of places that don't exist, or have never heard of you, it will leave me less than willing to help you out. Funny, that.

Here's what *to* do:
- Use blue or black ink. Print as clearly as you are able.
- Include as much information as you can. This might mean carrying in a list of addresses and phone numbers from your previous employers and copying off the list. I don't mind running down the occasional stray phone number, but if you provide no contact information for any of your references, I probably won't bother.
- Be honest. I'm going to find out what you did in your last job anyway. You might have a little more room to fudge with details about why you left, because many employers will not share that information, but if you do, you take the risk that your company is not among that group, or that the HR person I'll be talking to will be new enough not to know the policies about what to say or not say, or stressed enough not to care.
- Many applications will ask you for job duties in your history as well as titles. You only have a few lines to fill here, so try to prioritize, putting responsibilities that are related to the job you are applying for at the top of your list. If you leave these lines blank, I'll probably assume that you don't know what you did at your last job, which translates to the thought that perhaps you didn't do very much, or you weren't paying any attention.

Next week: Dressing for interviews - Your drug culture T-shirt will not go over well.

Fri, Jul. 21st, 2006, 11:29 am
Ten things I don't want to know about you, #1: Don't be a wanker

One of the first things I want to make absolutely sparklingly clear here is that while there are a lot of things that potential employers need to know about an applicant, there are also a lot of things that we don't need to know about you.

For example, I neither want nor need to know about your prowess in masturbation. Now, you may be thinking something along the lines of "Why in the world would somebody go into a job interview and talk about masturbation?". And I profoundly hope that nobody would.

I did, however, recently receive an email from a confused gentleman which listed among his contact information an email address of "wankmaster32@...". Here's a tip, kids: If your email contains the word wank, or any variant thereof, or indeed identifies you as "hotgurl4u", "bigtitties73", "cockmaster", "latinlover", and so on, get a new address before you apply for a job. After years and years of the availability of free web-based email, you would think that perhaps the idea of a designated account for professional email might have penetrated the market, as it were, but obviously not. And do you think that wankmaster32 emails his mother from that account? He probably does.

Needless to say, wankmaster32 did not get a callback. If you can't conduct yourself professionally on an email, what the hell are you going to do in an interview? I'd rather not find out.

Best solution: Maintain an email account that is based on your name. This keeps you looking professional, and allows the poor long-suffering bastard in HR to pick out email and mentally attach it to your resume or application easily. Even if your email is UnivGrad334@... , which is not objectionable, it still causes me to have to stop what I'm doing when the follow-up email comes from you and go, "Now which one was UnivGrad334?", which will perhaps require a return trip to the resume file. If your name is Doug Smith, and your email comes from dougsmith@... , it is much easier for me to associate later conversations with the original resume. Making it easier on HR dramatically increases the likelihood that they will want to talk to you.

Next Week: Filling out applications? Why bother?

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