Arrgh!! (Or, Finding Employment with your Degree)
So! You want to get a job. Most people would be content without one, but nooo, starvation's not good enough for you, is it? Huh?
Well, I suppose I should cut you a little slack. After all, you want to somehow justify your university education, and to serve society with your degree in Medieval Icelandic architecture. But in the meantime, I suppose I could advise you in some way. Before I finished university, I too lacked specific works skills and was without direction or purpose. But then... uh... well! Let's start!
Let's review how most graduates go about finding work. Perhaps a useful chart outlining the steps involved would be edifying. I think, judging from my past experience, that it would look like this:
As you go on, you will whittle down the numbers somewhat, after removing the jobs that you aren't skilled for. If you're a humanities graduate, this will simply the process greatly; let's go straight to the general help section! Hmm, there's quite a few openings, but they aren't quite clear. To speed up the process, I will try to interpret what these ads mean. You thought they were written in English. But, really, they are written in ad-ese. It's really quite simple to understand.
Expanding financial opportunity!
Do you like meeting new people?
Students! Join a fun-filled environment!
Now that you have grasped the basics of the dialect, it's time to move on to some more difficult translations. Some of the language used in general help ads can be rather densely packed with information, and requires a more lengthy explanation. Here are some sample phrases:
Flexible kitchen partners needed for busy eatery!
Experience preferred but not necessary!
Earn up to $5000 a month!
So you are finding this rather difficult? Well, these things do happen. For this reason, many cities have employment centres set up by the government to help you find work. They seem to be a success by all statistical indications. Your average employment centre can employ up to twenty people or so to file papers, hold meetings, and nip out for donuts. Whether they actually ever secure employment for anyone is debatable, but there's no need to be so demanding. The point is that you go there, line up in the crowd to use one of the three Commodore 64s inside that list vacancies, and away you go.
And then, after you have delivered, e-mailed, or sent by carrier pigeon copies of your resume, you can sit back and wait for your cellphone battery to go dead from the constant ringing. Perhaps you could spend some time considering what hot new mutual fund or IT stock you should invest in with the extra money left over from your first paycheque.
Are you sure you put the correct telephone number on the resume?
You know, perhaps we should trouble-shoot a little bit. Your college career-counsellor probably talked to you, or in high school you took a cheesy course for ¼ of a credit on Friday afternoons, which everyone skipped, which dealt with career planning. I remember them. Most of them had you take tests revealing that you should be a xylophone tuner or something for a living. Then there was the inevitable role-playing where you enacted a real job interview and critiqued each other's performances.
This is wonderful, assuming you actually ever get a job interview. Right now, you're trying to get your resume past the landfill. But don't be too hard on career counsellors. If they had been personally successful, would they be career counsellors?
But anyway, what is the difficulty? Was there a problem with your application process? Did you show up for the office interview after changing your car's oil? Did you wear a paisley dress shirt to the construction site? Did you hit on the receptionist? Did you keep asking the director to repeat herself because you couldn't hear her over your headphones?
Was it your resume? Ah— your resume. No doubt it's a good one. You didn't include a nude photograph of yourself; you didn't list your mum as a reference. You didn't list your name as your Facebook nickname, 'Tequila-hound .' No doubt you worked on your resume to make it look polished and professional, and did your best to honestly present yourself and to describe your accomplishments.
Wrong, wrong, wrong! No wonder you've been so unsuccessful in your search for career employment. You've made a glaring mistake: you should never honestly present yourself! The point of a resume is to make yourself look good, not to tell the truth, you silly goose. Don't begin your resume as I used to:
Rather, accentuate the positives in your background:
And you needn't confine yourself to cover letters. The resume itself is full of scope for improvement and positive enlargement upon your actual experiences. Here is what I used to allow to pass as my resume:
Once I realized that this resume lacked a certain.. special.. something, I began to work on it to
And there you are: a sensitive, yet factual portrayal of my work-related life skills. I believe it captures the essence of my experience in a tactful manner. Failing this, bribery or coercion may have to suffice in today's rapidly-changing globalized job market. Hey, where would Machiavelli or Attila the Hun be today if they had been delicate weaklings in their careers? Perhaps career counsellors, I suppose.