Massie: Hey, did you see that new Ashton Kutcher movie?
You: No. It’s not out yet.
Massie: Then why is everyone talking about Jobs?
I hear ya, Massie. Everyone IS talking about jobs. My niece, a recent college graduate, is desperate for one. So are her friends. We got to talking. I offered advice they didn’t ask for. Some they loved, some they thought was weird, most they knew their parents would hate. All of which I will now share with you. Because the only thing worse that putting together a resume is having to read fifty of them and still not find the right girl for the job.
1. Dress for the job you’re applying for, only a bit nicer. If you want to be a film production assistant, don’t wear high heels and a skirt to the interview. You’ll give off the impression that you won’t be able to run errands or get dirty. Clean jeans, flats, stylish top. Boobs in, thong tucked.
2. Prepare for the interview. Google the person you’re meeting with. Casually mention something they’ve done in the past. Tell them why you admire it. Not in a kiss-ass way. More in a small talk way. They will think you want to be there because of them, not because it’s a paycheck.
3. Ask questions. Questions you’ve prepared. Questions that will make them think you will make a difference.
“I admire those youth programs you started in 2010. Has there been any talk of creating something similar for pets?”
“I love reading blogs in my spare time. Do you think your employees would benefit from a weekly newsletter that highlights the best of the best? I’d be happy to add that to my job.”
“What advice would you give to someone starting out in this company?”
Basically turn the tables on the interviewer in a respectful way. You will stand apart from the dozens of other “people persons” waiting nervously in the lobby.
4. Never tell your interviewer what you really want to do with your life. If they sense you’re not in this for the long haul, they will pass on you immediately.
5. Here’s the one everyone thought was weird. It’s also the one I stand by the most. Say you’ve graduated. You’re desperate to work in advertising. It’s the dream. The problem is NO ONE is hiring. Then your mom’s friend offers you a job at her daycare center. The thought of wiping graham crackers off little mouths all day roils your stomach, but it’s a paycheck and you seriously need the money. You know what I say? Write a ‘thank you’ note to the kind woman who offered you the daycare job and then set up a meeting at the ad firm of your dreams. Tell them you’ll work for free. You want to learn. You are obsessed with their company and you know they aren’t hiring but you want in anyway. Then go get a weekend job scooping ice cream or baby sitting or baking gluten-free muffins to pay the bills. You will get a top notch education working at the ad firm. Granted you won’t be making any money but you won’t be paying any for a graduate degree either. You will make contacts with people directly in your field. And you will probably be first in line when the hiring freeze thaws. Let’s say they hire someone else and not you? Quit and apply for a job with the competition. You will have months of experience now that you didn’t have before.
6. Let’s say you don’t know what you want to do. This is fine; it happens to a lot of us. Don’t buy time by buying classes. Don’t pay when you can be getting paid. Get real experience. Learn from real life. In this case take the job from your parent’s friend–IF, and only IF–it does not roil your stomach. That roiling says it’s not at all what you want to be doing and you will be depressed. But everything else means experience.
7. Get off your lazy butt and stop making excuses. I’m serious. You have to work hard. You have to do a lot of things for a lot of people you can’t stand. You will feel tired. Taken advantage of. Underpaid. Over-qualified. Bored. DEAL WITH IT. I could go on and on about how I worked 7 days a week for $450/week when I started at MTV but I don’t want to sound like one of those old people who blather on about the hardships of life back in the day. What I will say is, it’s a huge red flag. Excuses are for people who are afraid or lazy. Don’t regret what you have done. Regret what you have NOT done.
8. Get creative. I truly believe that creative people will rule the world. Back in the day (crap, I said I wouldn’t do it and I did) the math and science brains were the ‘smart ones.’ But now? They are being replaced by computers, search engines, and smart phones. (Sorry friends, that’ll teach you not to make fun of people who failed algebra–twice.) The only thing computers can’t do (yet) is think creatively. Hone those skills and use them to solve your problems. Forget the ‘rules.’ Think!
9. Thank people for their time after you meet with them. Make the note personal. I know that sounds like an old-fashioned, lame thing to do but a lot of the people you meet with will be older than you and they still value that stuff.
10. Create work for yourself. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE does this better than my assistant Alisha the office elf. She is so incredibly proactive, it’s mind blowing. She sends me blogs she thinks I’ll like. She researches places for me to sell my bracelets. She teaches herself new skills on a daily basis and is always looking for ways to save me money. I have never asked her to do these things. She just does them. I will do anything and everything in my power to keep her happy and with me for as long as possible.
I know a lot of you are too young to need this advice right now but it can apply to anything you take on that matters. I’ve been a boss for 12 years now. Through good economies and bad. No matter what, good people work. They find a way. Find yours…