August 20, 2015

PSA: How To Get A Job

I love my job. Or at least that is what I tell myself on a daily basis. In reality, I do like being a podiatrist, its just that I don't like being a boss especially when the employee is horrible.

I've found myself in the position of having to hire a few times now and have been astonished by the utter horribleness of some of the applications I have received. I can just imagine how these people go around lamenting the fact that they never get an interview. In fact, I had a very good, highly qualified medical assistant working with me when I was an associate in the world's worst job. When she found out I was leaving, she put her time in and started looking for a job. She came crying to me about the fact that she never even got an interview and I found this odd knowing how great of a worker she was. When she handed me her resume, it all became clear. I re-worked it and low and behold, she got the very next job she sent it to. How you write your resume is extremely important.

Maybe everyone isn't the same, but I will fill you in on the behind the scenes of hiring from an employers perspective.

First, understand that hiring sucks. It takes a lot of effort,  money and stress to search for, research, interview, select and train a new employee. Employers want it to go quickly, smoothly and without issue. This means that everything they do is for a specific reason and you (as the potential new hire) should pay close attention to what they are asking for.

My job advert is specific, to the point and full of helpful information to set you on the right path to acquiring my job. Pay attention to it. My latest advertisement received over 250 applicants. That's a ton and honestly, I don't have time to read each and every one in detail. Here is my method of hiring and some tips along the way to help you out:

1.) Post the ad. I post an ad that contains the qualities I am looking for (you know that annoying bit about must be energetic, friendly and organized), the basic duties and anything I am looking for: experience level etc.. I always ask for a cover letter.
TIP: Read the ad carefully.  If the ad asks for something specific, then you need to actually provide it. This is more for seeing if you pay attention to details and can follow instructions that anything else. If you can't do something as simple as provide a cover letter, how can you be trusted to perform the duties of your job?

2.) Quickly scan all applicants for the requested information. My last job posting had over 250 applicants. No way did I have time to read them all. In order to whittle that down to a manageable number, I scan each for what I asked for. When I said must have experience, I meant it. When you answer no you get deleted. If you didn't provide a cover letter, you get deleted. You might be the best person ever, but no cover letter equals a 10 second glance and then delete.

TIP:  Again, provide what was asked for to make it through the first step. A cover letter doesn't have to be lengthy, but needs to be present. If they specifically want you to be bilingual make sure that is front and center. You know those three little adjectives they added into the ad? It would probably be a good idea for you to somewhere, somehow mention that you are in fact energetic, friendly and organized.

3.) Look through those that remain more closely to choose interviewees. I'll admit that I rarely read a cover letter, but I do look to who it is addressed. If it is to SIR, I delete you. Grammar and spelling errors get deleted immediately as well. If I have to squint to read your annoying font or spend more than a minute trying to decipher your work experience history, you get deleted. After all that it is just guess work to be honest.

TIP: Either take the 5 minutes to google the company name (if provided) and find out who to write the cover letter to or use To Whom it May Concern or even Hiring Manager. Assuming I am a man annoys me. Proof read the crap out of both the cover letter and resume. Use a normal font, easy to see paragraphs and nice layout. Remember, make this easy on the hiring manager.

4.) Make the call for interviews.  When I call I tell you who I am, what company I am calling from and the name of the position. Something like "Hello, is this so and so? I am Sara from blah blah blah calling you in regards to the receptionist position you applied for..." Very clear. If at that time, you are way out in left field and obviously have no clue who I am or say something really annoying like "I applied to so many, who are you again?" You get hung up on in a polite but firm manner. I then proceed to tell you the non negotiables to not waste a valuable interview slot: money, benefits, start date etc... If you are okay with all these, you get a time slot. If you are insanely picky about when you can interview, game over.

TIP: When on the phone sound professional, walk outside or into another room if the dog is barking or a baby crying. I understand you may be at home, but it is distracting and will get you pulled from the list. Even if you have applied to 100 jobs all sounding the same, act like you know who I am. Be honest with the non negotiables. If the pay is too little or you have to have free health insurance, say so. Showing up and demanding them won't get you anywhere and will make me cranky as I wasted my valuable time and a valuable interview slot. When offered an interview time and day, do everything you can to take it. Being hard to fit in will guarantee you wont get a slot.

5.) The interview. Interviewing is horrible, but there are some pretty easy judgments that can help make a choice pretty quickly. If you show up late, you are out plain and simple.  If you look like a slob, I won't take you either. I always shake your hand and introduce myself as Dr. Sara B not because I will always make you call me that but because I want to see how professional and respectful you are. If you slip into calling me Sara I get very annoyed. I will ask annoying, stupid and pointless questions mostly because I have to ask something. The answers aren't all that important (unless you answer with something way out in left field like the lady who answered my standard "how do you handle angry clients" with "I hang up on them") but the way you handle being asked annoying questions is. I'll also ask you about yourself, your family, potential issues with the job and the ever dreaded "what questions do you have for me?" Notice that I don't ask "Do you have any questions?". I am forcing you to ask me something and when you respond "None" you just lost yourself this job.

TIP: Show up 15 minutes early. Dress better than the job being offered. Maybe not suit and tie obviously, but dress well and do your hair in a nice, non aggressive way.  Make eye contact and use your body language to show interest. Leaning back and crossing your arms over your chest, says "I am too good for this and not interested" pretty loudly. When asked about questions: ask them! It shows that you have paid attention. Obviously, don't ask something that was already said but come up with something: what are your patients like, do you mind if I bring my lunch, what computer system do you use etc... Avoid asking bad questions like: how long is my lunch break, when can I begin taking time off, can my family come visit etc...

6.) Making the decision. Pretty much every interview session ends with a decision between two or three people. Which means that 247 others were rejected to get here. Most often, for me anyway, one has the better personality while the other the more experience. I tend to pick the personality which hasn't really done me much good to this point. It comes down to a few things: who has the experience I want, who was personable and would be easy for me to work with, and who is reliable. The one with all three wins.

TIP: Wait patiently and see. If you haven't heard in a week, call the office and check in. Do not call the next day. I find it irritating and I really dislike having to tell people they didn't get the job, so you calling me and forcing me to do so just sucks. If it has been a long time and you want to make sure, go ahead and call but chances are if you haven't heard you didn't get it.

7.) Calling to make an offer. While I dislike telling someone they didn't get the job, I do really like telling someone they did. It has been a long and arduous process and chances are I am feeling a little insecure about my choice. Should I have picked the other one? When I call you, you better sound enthusiastic. Answering and saying something like "oh, ok, good" bursts my bubble and makes me wish I had hired someone else.

TIP: You don't have to go overboard like you won the lottery, but sound excited please. You just got offered a job that 250+ others wanted (or at least in theory they did). Let the person know you are happy and excited to start.

So that's that. If you are job hunting, do yourself the favor of making it easy to hire you because in the end that's what the employer wants: someone who will make their life easier. Good luck out there!!


  1. I am a HR Manager for a company of about 400. I don't handle the recruitment for the plants, but I am involved in the hiring at the upper levels. My only suggestion is not to ask questions that do not pertain specifically to the tasks at hand. Do not ask personal questions about family, spouse or kids. Those touch on protected status (marital status, age, and some times ethnicity) so find some other annoying questions to ask that are job related.

    My favorite was the guy who showed up drunk and told us he wasn't sure why he had come in for the interview, since he had been collecting unemployment for three years. Or the woman who sprawled all over the table after kicking off her shoes and tucking her feet up under her butt. You get to see all kinds when you do the hiring. . . .

    1. I tend to only ask an open question like "tell me about yourself". If they then mention a child I ask how old to be friendly. I never ask if they are married, have kids, age, religion or the best one I had been asked when being interviewed "do you plan on getting pregnant". Pretty sure that's not legal. I understand your warning though and thanks for the heads up. My annoying questions are usually how do you handle angry patients, how do you deal with stressful situations, how do you multi task and make sure everything gets done. The one I do ask that may be grey zone is "do you foresee any reason you couldn't make it to work on time every day". I only ever had one person respond with a yes I tend to be someone who over sleeps. Maybe that isn't a good question?

    2. I think it's a great question. You can ask if they can be on time to work every day, but should avoid asking how they would get to work (do you own a car? or do you have a ride?). And those shouldn't be annoying questions - they are related to job success and are great on target questions.

  2. Love this! Was planning to do a similar post a little while back when we were trying to find a good match at the clinic. I found myself nodding along point by point as I read this.

    1. Hiring is one of my least favorite things to do. It is amazing how many people are clueless. I had a guy call me a week after the ad posted asking about the status of his application. I was really nice and explained that unfortunately the position was filled, but that I would take a second look at his resume and hold onto it in the future. He then got really pouty and said "But I really wanted it" To which I replied with an apology again. He then said in a more nasty tone "Well, is there another position there I can have?" No, sir there isn't and even if here was you wouldn't be getting it. Ugh.