How The Employment Market Has Become the Wild, Wild West and What Should Be Done About It

Guy fired for clicking “like” to popular energy supplement 5 Hour Energy, because it somehow violated his companies internet usage policy; it made national headlines when a man was fired from his car dealership job for wearing a Green Bay Packers tie to work, the Monday after their Super Bowl win. No warning, no indication it was inappropriate, just you’re fired. These are only the latest in a long line of people fired for behavior deemed questionable by employers and it goes beyond people caught shopping, playing Farmville or other online games, using Facebook and other social media on company time for personal use, it seems you can get fired for anything nowadays. That is when people can get hired to begin with between bizarre interview questions, increasingly invasive examinations of your personal life, the multitude of minor things seeming to immediately disqualify you for the position, and the outright games employers think they have to play to get good candidates. Finding a job, keeping your existing one, functioning, indeed surviving in the workplace has truly become a wild, wild West of everyone for themselves, no rules and no holds barred; when it comes to advice on everything from rèsumès to interview skills, from how to get a promotion, to things that will get you fired, it’s a maze of minutia, mixed messages and conflicting so called information.

One rèsumè tip will tell you to keep it simple, uncluttered, make sure it isn’t word or top heavy, yet another will alert you to the story like format employers are looking for. It’s no longer good enough to provide clear pictures of what you’ve done, duties performed, experts are pushing for specific examples often using all or nothing language, assuming people achieved amazing things while working for a company as opposed to simply doing their job, doing it competently and consistently. Suggested rewordings included: better than saying responsible for, try over saw bank deposits or wrote all press releases. Rather than just stating they managed online sales, describing how they created a catalog doubling laptop sales. Similar points are made in reference to ways to freshen up your rèsumè or the most overused rèsumè phrases. Results oriented professional is now boring and should be substituted for something like I love to solve complex computer problems. Excellent team player should now be some instance of you partnering with departments or coworkers to achieve X goal. Excellent communication skills, unacceptable, but detailing how you wrote individual instructions to each department during a new product line unveiling that saved thousands of dollars, absolute show stopper. Have a strong work ethic, don’t say that, instead talk about how you taught yourself HTML in a weekend to land a position. Meets or exceeds expectations, old hat, to be swapped out for how you were brought in on an executive strategy summit, proving your motivation, that people saw that motivation and you were trusted at your last job, so says the expert.

Aside from overuse of the excellent, one can assume these phrases were not all culled from the same rèsumè, recommended fixes, all rèsumè tips on language seem to operate on the predication the employee held a high level position in sales, marketing, rolling out products, working with computers, being an accountant, carrying no solutions for those in entry level work, people who only like their job for the paycheck that comes with it. Take an administrative assistant or receptionist who spends most of their day answering phones, stuffing envelopes, typing letters, doing data entry and oh don’t forget fetching your bosses coffee. Somehow saying you like all those things doesn’t have the same ring to it. When it comes to detailing duties, the inevitable question becomes what happens if you were one of a handful of people writing press releases, dealing with deposits, whatever the case may be? One expert says responsible describes what you did, not what your good at, disregarding if your not good at marketing, accounting, so your attempting to get into a completely different field and what you were responsible for simply describes your last job. Lets say you were in sales and only increased their profits marginally due to any number of mitigating factors such as a bad economy, poor management in other departments, ideas you had not implemented by higher ups; none of those make you a bad employee, not good at what you do, it only means you don’t have a vibrant story to tell. Also to be noted, these common phrases are seen more in cover letters than rèsumè complete with stories if applicants have them. Contradictory to that are those who say use key words from the job description, owing to their use of computer software to identify identical words within application documents; the more key words, the more chance of an interview. Even when they involve trite, clichè phrases, one guess is as good as another when listening to experts.

Possessing a strong work ethic should be a good thing in an era perceived as punctuated by slackers; forgoing the burning question of who could teach themselves HTML in a weekend, upon seeing these phrases in rèsumès, cover letters it gives hiring staff a chance to ask applicants what said statements mean to them; if they can’t come up with an answer, odds are they just put it there because it’s what you put on a rèsumè. Here again though it can be a sticking point for job seekers. A particular person during their internship showed up, up to 2 hours early to avoid being late, because they took the bus; they likewise stayed up to 30 minutes after their shift to prevent leaving early. Present this in a job interview, and it makes you look like you have transportation issues not dedication. Same job seeker, in an effort to use their degree, sent materials all over the country inquiring about freelance work, only to get responses saying they have no room, no money to hire them, only hire locals or do not use freelancers. Upon being granted an interview in their field, our job seeker was asked to create content specific material, sent by the appointed deadline; not only did they give content asked for but included explanations for the choices made, things they would do before it went to final print to insure quality of design and interviewer did not even acknowledge receipt of items. All 3 examples of effort, commitment that “too vague” strong work ethic, all done by the same person to get a job; however, the last two instances could make an employer question the quality of work, competence of applicant, due to all of them ending in failure not success. Sadly there is something wrong when being willing to come to work every day, do your job well, being focused and reliable isn’t enough.

Continuing, excellent communication skills could indicate the ability to make yourself easily understood, not having to repeat yourself, a lack confused looks on friends, neighbors faces after talking to you vs. others you know, things much more effective in demonstration than explanation. Meets or exceeds expectations could be something placed on a performance review by your former boss commenting on your work overall or the miscellaneous responsibilities of your workplace, no more, no less, still it remains a valid, positive descriptor of you, making it no less important to include. Painting yourself as a team player proves more difficult if you’re a recent college grad speaking of school projects or participation in sports, additionally some workplaces don’t want employees meddling in other departments, wanting you focused on your job and yours alone, ruling out the offered example. Team player to some may mean ability to get along and cooperate with others or commitment to corporate, company or workplace ideals, useful attitudes as well not so easily condensed to one sentence on a rèsumè

Cover letters are another thing fraught with peril for people who just want to work for a living conflicting strategies causing them to stand out, get hiring managers’ attention leave many scratching their heads, questioning the reliability of what they are being told. Things from create your own slogan to prove you’re a go-getter by saying I’ll contact you on Thursday to discuss how I could fit into your organization, eliminating passive statements like hope to hear from you in the near future could backfire if the person reading that panics, if they are busy Thursday. Look forward to hearing from you, leaves it in the employers’ court as to when they contact you and does not appear overly presumptuous. Slogans may be inappropriate for some jobs, using them may cause you to appear silly, give off an impression you don’t take the job seriously. Bragging your accounting skills could save thousands of dollars to avoid saying your looking for a challenging opportunity could cause you to be later fired when you can’t deliver. Interviews are one of the most nerve racking aspects of jobs or job hunting and it just got more so judging by the confusing ways to ace your next interview, impress your future boss from bringing visual aids, Power Point presentations to ending with mission statements leaves most people with the feeling I’m not a prostitute or a sausage; stop telling me to sell me.

Employers have taken the idea of an employers market to the extreme and job seekers, the already employed are bearing the brunt of current trends in interviews, company policies. Adding up wired questions, credit checks, Facebook monitoring it’s a wonder anyone gets hired or stays employed in the first place. Now employers have gone 3 steps beyond over the top, leaving interviewees “cooling their heels” for up to an hour to evaluate how they handle stress, purposely spreading gossip, saying negative things about your former boss to see if you will agree, trying to weed out gossipers. Profiling tips are a popular new way to decide if you are a good job candidate planting $50 bills under magazines or confidential files to see if potential employees will snatch the money or information. Another heads up, clean your car; odds are someone will be sent to investigate whether it’s littered with fast food wrappers, hasn’t been washed in months, if so, no job for you. Everyone agrees dressing for success can give you an edge, some out of work executives even hiring imaging consultants; tips for those who can’t go broke trying to look sharp, get interview/work clothing tailored, invest in a haircut and nice pair of shoes.

Unemployed people may be being ruled out on that fact alone, as it is assumed you were fired for performance reasons; solutions, take a class, volunteer, freelance or consult, start a blog, “then when they ask are you employed you can confidently say yes.” Left out is the fact most don’t consider it work unless you are getting paid, volunteering, internships, classes do fill in gaps but aren’t always available or right for job hunters particularly so called millennials education-ed to death, possessing a degree, practical training in a more viable field, list volunteering still absent key job skills demanded who only need someone, somewhere to give them a chance. Consulting presumes you have some expertise, not necessarily true just starting out. Blogging can put you in contact with many in your field; however, bloging usually means starting your own blog, creating your own web page joining free bloging or page services, lumping you in with thousands of others.

Have a job, don’t think your safe; while your avoiding Facebook faux pas, aware your boss is monitoring your e-mail know that they will also find you if you play hooky from work, saying you’]re sick when you’re not; companies today hire private investigators to find you at that wedding you just had to go to, the funeral of a relative or that 3 day jaunt to Disney World. Oh and before you take your next job it might be beneficial to ask about the dress code, considering Switzerland’s USB financial firm and it’s 43 pages of parameters on dress in their workplace regulating men not dye their hair, guidelines as to the knots in their tie, forbidding short sleeves, short socks, telling women they must button their jackets when standing, do the reverse upon sitting. Another European boss timed bathroom visits and made women wear red bracelets during their menstrual cycles. U.S. companies are no better enforcing dress codes that include skirted suites, nylons and heels, exclude pants or flats, the former being upheld by courts if said company was sued.

Perhaps the most frustrating part for job seekers, those fired for dress infractions, Facebook material, is the constant complaint from employers they don’t have time or money to train workers, nor inform them of newer offences that will cause them to be dismissed, yet they do have time to search your credit score, not just view your Myspace, Facebook or Titter postings before hire, but continually, have time to set up the potential profiling traps mentioned above. Because they only glance at your rèsumè, it is recommended you take the lead, begin giving facts about yourself and your qualifications; unlike one article’s statement applicants presume interviewers have memorized rèsumè, cover letter materials, people generally think an interviewer took a couple of minutes to look at their application documents before the interview begins, apparently not.

Simultaneously people logically conclude HR personnel, hiring mangers, executives, bosses all would have more time to view rèsumès, giving a fairer chance to all who applied, conduct thorough interviews minus such ridiculous cloak and dagger tactics, train, mentor, appropriately monitor existing employees if didn’t spend time setting up “spies” in waiting rooms, sending people to look at your car, talking to a detective about finding absentee workers, writing never mind enforcing, extreme dress codes. Further they could use the persons doing these bizarre tasks to sort through applications, oversee first round interviews, train/supervise employees or just make the workplace run smoother. On the whole companies claim not to be able to afford training for employees regardless of what the job is, whether training might be required, increase efficiency, productivity, yet again, they can afford farewell parties for laid off workers as a thank you, interpreted as an egregious screw you. Those private investigators companies are so keen on routinely charge $75 per hour to track down someone who makes a maximum of $30; expensive to say the least. Not to mention that if sick days are the only time off provided by a company people will use it for anything family crisis, the infamous mental health day and yes vacations, so it has been for 30 years.

Other problems, we need a standard format for rèsumès and cover letters to avoid so much song and dance, solid rules for interviews, removing the behavioral questions, bizarre questions, replacing them with job scenario questions, getting back to basics. Why, because mandating massive achievements and glowing stories encourages people to lie and over embellish. It is prejudicial to college graduates, people returning to the workforce post child rearing, coming out of retirement, or changing fields, who with those redundant rèsumè lines, are trying to project positive qualities either present in their personality or they intend to exhibit if given the job, afforded the opportunity, people in lower level jobs who did nothing flamboyant, extraordinary just did a good job. Rules for want ads are an urgent must considering the incident involving one candidate who said they could not research the company, due to the name not being listed in the ad; the problem, said establishment embedded it in their e-mail address and was seeking a tech savvy individual capable of figuring out such things. No, the real problem is no one should have to decipher a want ad that way, bad eough are the common abbreviations, acronyms used absent of any translation guides available on job boards, local job wizards attached to web versions of newspapers; almost no one these days is computer illiterate, but few, even the tech savvy, would think to look in the e-mail for the company name and they shouldn’t have to. Some of those who notice it may move on from your ad because they find it stupid to have placed it there, have other options and refuse to engage in fruitless run around.

Also to be tackled is this idea of doing your homework, knowing details not readily available from ongoing projects to goals to competitors researching companies doesn’t yield the results either experts or employers believe it does. About us sections on websites often contain little information, routinely come up blank, use field or company jargon outsiders would not understand; goals and projects are only there if marketing staff put them there, business profiles not produced by the company list them using vague descriptors like business services, tell you nothing about what positions they might have besides the one advertised, management structure, cost money and take time to receive, useless for next day interviews. Nowhere do you find their competitors, nor do you have time to scour every industry, business magazine to discover what they’re up to. Detailed information of this kind could very easily be housed in a database you must pay a fee to view or a membership to, impractical and expensive. Never once have experts provided pointers on this type of research, how best to go about determining competition, that is unless you buy their book.

Similarly said research may not be required for positions such as administrative assistants, because their clerical skills are somewhat detached from company specifics; case in point, office worker interviewed with a personal injury law firm, knowing what kind of law they practiced, recent cases won did nothing for them because they had no prior experience in a law office to compare to what this one was looking for, law office skills to highlight. What they learned was worthless minutia, a distraction. On that note, perceptions to be carefully evaluated are employers’ obsession with finding a candidate not only interested in the job but exuding a vested interest in the company as a whole, dismissing persons whose greatest qualities are focus, reliability, professionalism transcending type of company especially broader job fields, clerical, maintenance, people who will give the same commitment to whomever provides them a job.

Next, making interviewees wait up to an hour makes you look unprofessional and unorganized especially since interviews are almost always done by appointment. Expecting a pristine car wrongly discriminates against those who have young children, commute, travel frequently, same day interviews where people do not have time to clean their car beforehand. Scrutinizing the exterior of a vehicle passes unfair judgment on someone who lives on a dirt road, where regardless of having just washed it, it will still be dusty. Using this as a basis for character judgment also puts at a disadvantage someone who barrowed a car to get there, those utilizing taxis or other public transportation. It is time employers likewise understood that when an applicant doesn’t ask questions it doesn’t mean they are uninterested, weren’t paying attention; in fact, take it as a complement you did so well in explaining the job, communicating what you want, you answered all their questions.

Business oriented dress codes usually come in 4 types uniforms worn by bus drivers, maintenance workers, some taxi divers, chefs, fast food employees, business casual, business formal and completely casual, i.e. wear whatever you want as long as your clothed. Whatever dress code workplaces chose to use, evaluation of preparedness, character should be suspended for persons only picking up applications, since places utilizing applications tend to be ones operating on either business casual or completely casual. Unemployed people do not have the money to have clothing tailored, plain black, white or tan Air Walk style sneakers should be acceptable for business casual dress; at the same time, makeup and jewelry should be optional for women not a negative to be pointed out if not there. A hint, if a pant suite is good enough for a potential democratic presidential nominee and a vice presidential candidate, it’s good enough for business formal. Forbidding women to wear pants may have been upheld legally, but in what year and why are we still allowing them to hold to archaic standards in a nation bent on health who knows the damage that can be done by heels, something viewed as a must when wearing skirted business clothing.

Employers need to get their proprieties straight truth is we have given them too many rights; companies, businesses independent of size, large or small should NOT have the option of ruling out the currently unemployed simply to save time going through applications, neither should they be allowed to enforce extreme dress codes in the name of increasing business, not offending clientele or whatever excuse was thought up off the top of a CEO or mangers head. Company names, multiple points on contact placed in want ads should be mandated by law period; if they want potential employees to know so much about them they should correct their anorexic about us sections, tailor their sites user friendly and be sure at least one business profile out there details the information desperately desired, avoiding specialized industry databases charging a fee for membership or viewing. Hire a private investigator or don’t; limits should be placed on how you use information obtained. Why, because it is time to tame the employment wild, wild West, cut workplace stress and get deserving people back to work.

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About Natasha Sapp

Proclaiming an edgy voice of reason to America,while bringing back the common sense to social issues.

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