Advice for the job search

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2012

By Steven S. Kirkpatrick

For the past few weeks I’ve been looking for workers for a new business that I am launching right here in Suffolk. It’s been an interesting process. One thing I’ve learned is that most young adults seem to know next to nothing about trying to find a job. Even many applicants with 10 or more years of experience seem pretty clueless about whole process.

I often wonder if so many people are really that lazy, incompetent, ignorant, or just plain clueless. But maybe it’s something deeper, like a lack of faith, or a tendency to live up to the negative beliefs people hold about themselves. But let’s not get too analytical here. Instead, let me offer some advice.

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If you’re looking for work, especially if you are looking for a “real” job for the first time, here are a few suggestions:

4Create a real resume — on a separate piece of paper. Don’t include your resume as part of the text of your email, either. If you email your resume, include it as a separate attachment as either a .pdf file or a Microsoft Word document. Don’t even consider using any other format. It doesn’t have to be a long or elaborate resume, so don’t worry about that. A half page might be all you need.

4Be careful what email address you use. Nobody wants to interview a candidate with an email address like or Email addresses like these tell employers that you are ignorant of business conduct and culture, and they will want no part of you. Also — puhleeze! — don’t use your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s email address. Get your own. I received a resume from someone I’ll call Anthony; when I asked him about his email address (something like he told me Janet was his girlfriend and Ricky was (or still is – who knows?) a boyfriend of Janet’s.

4Don’t use a P.O. Box as an address. It implies that you are hiding something — like where you live. This leads employers to ask themselves: “What else is that person hiding?”

4Don’t call prospective employers unless they invite the call. And don’t use a cell phone unless you know for sure that you will have a crystal-clear connection: This means no background noise, howling wind or weak connections. Find a landline in a quiet place, and then make the call. Also, leave a simple and professional recording on your phone asking callers to leave a message if you miss their call.

4Speak clearly so people can understand you; this might sound like common sense, but you might be amazed at how often people mumble, use poor grammar, and otherwise make themselves difficult to understand.

4If you get an interview, show up 15 minutes early. Dress well and don’t smell of stale tobacco or some other unpleasant odor. If you like to read, bring a book. Not to pass the time but to show your prospective employer that you have at least half a brain and like to read. Show respect during the interview; answer yes/no questions with “Yes, ma’am” or “No, sir,” as the case may be.

And one last thing: Don’t say you NEED a job. Employers aren’t there to give you what you need; they are there to fulfill their needs, not yours. Your job in looking for a job is to convince your future employer that you are there to solve their problems and make their life easier. Period.

Can someone please tell me why our schools don’t teach job-hunting basics to graduating seniors? Am I missing something here?

Steven S. Kirkpatrick lives in Chuckatuck. He is a consultant and advisor to entrepreneurs and small business owners. Email him at