3 Real Life Job Search Rules – What You Have in Common With A Famous Stripper

 In Career Tips

Gypsy Rose LeeGuest Blogger: The Candidate Curmudgeon

These days, job search can make you feel a lot like the famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee the first time she got on stage. Once you’re up there under the spotlight, you’re eventually going to have to get naked in front of a lot of people you don’t know.

With unemployment in this country continuing to graze 12%, competition for the best positions is fierce. External recruiters are hungry for warm candidate bodies and are willing to throw anything against the wall (including you) to see if it sticks. Internal HR folks are so overworked; they’re just looking for a break. Job-hunting has always been a huge amount of work— but now it’s virtually a full time job. Not fully connected on LinkedIn? Forget it! No presence in the social communities in your field? Not a chance sucker! Don’t Tweet on Twitter? Your candidacy is for the birds! Oh, and by the way, if you are unemployed (and actually really need a job) you’re a second-class citizen. If you were really worth hiring you wouldn’t need a job in the first place. People who don’t really need a job carry the coveted title of “passive candidate.” You want to be one of these if you can.

Don’t get me wrong. I do feel a certain amount of empathy for weary recruitment professionals who now are expected to troll these vast social universes for talent. But the fact of the matter is that the corporate recruitment system is built on a foundation of systemic dishonesty, mutual disrespect and subterfuge. There. Somebody had to say it.

Now, if you are a business professional with a few years of experience under your belt you know the fundamental rules of job search like the back of your hand:


Job Search Rule #1 – The Truth Will Definitely Set You Free

You must never, never, never EVER say anything negative about your current or former employer(s). Don’t tell anyone about the vicious behavior of your co-workers. Got an egomaniacal bully for a boss? He becomes an angel in mentor’s clothing when you interview. The lateral move to another department that coincidentally happened just after you reported financial wrongdoings? That becomes “an opportunity to gain cross-functional knowledge across the organization.”

What can you say about a system that encourages, indeed, necessitates avoidance of the truth? I contend that fundamental to our psyches is the underlying belief that bad things only happen to bad people. If you had trouble, it’s your fault. You are defective somehow. Trouble will follow you in your new position. That’s one thing we don’t want is trouble in the workplace…oh wait…oh never mind.


Job Search Rule #2 – Your Job Search is NOT About You

Back in the old days, your resume was expected to have a section called “Career Goals” or “Objectives.” Here you enumerated your desired professional trajectory: “To be a strong contributing member of an entrepreneurial software engineering team.”  If you have a Goals section in your current resume, I suggest you go to your interview (if you even get one) wearing argyle socks and a mullet. No one wants to know what you want. Trust me.

Your prospective employer wants to know what you are going to do for them. If you can actually monetize your value, well brother, you’ve got it made. “Monetization” is really big these days. According to Wikipedia, “Monetization is a buzzword for adapting non-revenue-generating assets to generate revenue. Failure to monetize web sites was a problem that caused many businesses to fold during the dot-com bust.” And that’s exactly what is going to happen to you if you fail to monetize your candidacy; you’re going to fold.

Whatever you do you must remain aware of the fact that however high your personal values, delivering value to your new employer is what counts. In this case, delivering value means that you deliver more of the goods for less cash. This also explains that position you saw listed last week to run the entire international marketing department of an industry-leading electronics company for $85K a year. No bonus or relocation.

Job Search Rule #3 – Emily Post Was Not A Recruiter

If the last time you looked for a new position was during the first Clinton presidency, boy do you have a few surprises coming. You must learn to live by the principals of The Job Seeker Manifesto, which are as follows:

1)     I understand that corporate recruiters are very busy people who rarely have time to do their jobs to their full ability. I therefore recognize that any advertised position I apply for on any website may not actually be a real, live position*. While I may spend hours grappling with the terrible UI of corporate career sites, and even more hours crafting and customizing resumes and cover letters to apply to advertised positions, I understand that it is very likely that I will never hear from anyone at the company regarding my application. In many cases, I will not even receive an automated response message. I am OK with this.

2)     Even though all recruiters say that the most attractive candidates are those that are currently employed, I understand that corporate recruiters are very busy people who rarely have time to do their jobs to their full ability. That’s why there is no way for “passive” candidates to register their interest in a company on their career websites. I recognize that even if they did, they are very busy people and wouldn’t have the time or interest to consider my qualifications anyway. I am OK with this.

3)     Corporate recruiters will frequently leave messages for me through LinkedIn, my email or on my personal voice mail regarding open positions they are trying to fill. I understand that corporate recruiters are very busy people who rarely have time to do their jobs to their full ability. Therefore I will not become frustrated when I return their call, leave a message and never hear from them again. I am OK with this. My guess is they figure that if I answered their call, I am not a passive candidate and therefore they don’t want to talk to me after all…wait…oh, well.

Corporate recruiters are very busy people who rarely have time to do their jobs to their full ability. As far as I know, business etiquette is not part of HR training. This explains why, after you spend hours researching the company’s market, positioning and product lines, and carefully arrange to sneak out of the office early to make a telephone screen or personal interview, you may never hear from the company or its representatives again.

Keep in mind however, you must always follow up every interview with a (preferably) hand-written, personal note to everyone you spoke with during the interview thanking them for their valuable time and re-enumerating the value you will bring to their organization should you be lucky enough to secure an available position with their company.

All kidding and sarcasm aside, I think it’s time that we took a critical look at this system that virtually mandates less than honest personal interaction among colleagues and disregards mutual respect and common courtesy.

If you are currently looking for a new job, you may be subject to personal insults and rude behavior. If you get past the initial interview stage, you may be faced with credit checks, criminal record checks, aptitude exams and psychological testing. In fact, the whole process may remind you of admission into a criminal detention center. It’s enough to get anyone down.

When I get down about it I think of Gypsy Rose Lee. She had the courage to put herself out there. She gave her audiences what they wanted. Yet while satisfying their lascivious natures, she maintained her poise and dignity. She was a smart, witty, and extremely funny woman who kept her sense of who she was while becoming the most famous burlesque entertainer of the early 20th century. Imagine that. And she didn’t even have a Facebook page.

* I do feel obligated to say that the people that run this blog really do check that all of their jobs are real – but they are definitely the exception.

The opinions expressed by The Candidate Curmudgeon are the Curmudgeon’s own and do not necessarily express the views and opinions of CPGjobs, its clients, candidates or affiliates. CPGjobs is dedicated to open discourse about the candidate experience, and it is in this spirit that these blog posts are offered. The Candidate Curmudgeon welcomes all criticism and commentary!

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