Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

straitjacket guyA comedic look at job search and success – “What Color is Your Parachute” meets “This Is Spinal Tap,” if you will. This combination of comedy and advice gives helpful tips to anyone who is searching for a job, or hoping to hold on to the one they have. Topics include contemplating your navel to find your life’s work, idiot-proofing your job search, online disasters, strategic schmoozing, resume do’s and don’ts, interviewing horrors and how to handle them, how to hold on to your job, reflections on bizarre jobs, and weird work stories.

I’ve had many unusual jobs in the course of my career.

I was once an unofficial elf (sans pointy ears) at the Enchanted Village in City Hall Plaza during the holidays. The job consisted mostly of being a security guard in a Santa hat, though I occasionally was stationed at the exit, where I sold ornaments and was forced to listen to an endlessly repeating recording that suggested a rather disturbing relationship between Santa and his reindeer. “Oh, Dancer. Oh, Prancer. Oh, hohohohohohohohooho!”

One of my more interesting jobs was a singing messenger for Eastern Onion Telegrams in Miami. In this role, I wore one of several rather exploitative outfits (hey, it was the early ‘80s), including a kind of modified Playboy Bunny complete with fishnets, high heels and bunny tail, a French Maid costume (yeah, you can use your imagination on that one) and, of course, Wonder Woman. The job wasn’t without its perks, not the least of which was getting paid to work with a hot male stripper named Alfredo.

One night, I was on my way to a gig for a man’s 80th surprise birthday party when I realized that I was totally lost. Since this was before cell phones, I had to drive back to the Holiday Inn on Route One and walk through the bar dressed as Wonder Woman to use the phone for directions. As I was waiting in the parking lot for the 80-year-old’s sonto find me so I could follow him, the security guard approached me. Instead of asking me why I was dressed as Wonder Woman, though, he just chatted me up for a bit and invited me to use the pool. I politely declined.

When I finally arrived at Birthday Boy’s condo, he panicked at the sight of me, apparently assuming I was a hooker. Since Viagra hadn’t been invented yet, I suppose he had a reason for anxiety. I had to reassure him that my only intention was to sing to him, and proceeded to do my little birthday number, complete with stuffed monkey and a tambourine, and set his mind and his loins at ease.

Most of us, to some extent, suffer from inertia when it comes to our careers. We tend to keep sauntering in the same direction until something – usually getting canned – happens to toss us off the path and into the bushes.  If you’ve been tossed, how about brushing the grass stains off your shorts and really taking a look at where you are and where you’re going.

Here are some questions to ask yourself. And, of course, answer yourself. Go ahead, you can do it in public. People will just think you have a phone in your ear. Or that you’re wacko. But what the hell.

1.   Do you really enjoy the work you’ve been doing? If so, is it because of the work itself, or because of all the hot guys on the second floor?

2.   What specifically do you like the best about your most recent job(s)?

3.   Assuming the answer to #2 isn’t the hot guys, what skills were you using when you did the stuff you liked best?

4.   What was your favorite job of all time? What in particular made it your favorite?

5.   What would your worst nightmare, wake-up-screaming-want-to-stick-a-wet-finger-in-an-electric-socket, job be? Figuring out what you don’t want to do can help you figure out what you do want.

6.   What is your fantasy job? Yeah, we know – judging the Mr. or Ms. America Pageant (do they really still have those??). Come on now, try to focus on professional stuff, like work environment, tasks you’d spend your workday doing, and type of customers you’d be working with – screaming kids? Corporate execs? Granola goddesses badly in need of anti-frizz products? What’s your preference?

7.   What’s most important to you in a job? Do you know you need to be creative? Do you yearn for structure? Do you need your job to not involve people? (just kidding on the last one – if that is, in fact, true, good luck).

8.   What are your strengths, professionally speaking? Jack of all trades doesn’t really cut it any more. Three or four strong skill areas will endear you to employers a lot more.

9.   What do you suck at? Everyone sucks at some things, though some suck more than others. Guess what? It’s okay to suck. Unless of course what you suck at is necessary for life as we know it. In which case, by all means work on it. But generally speaking, you’ll be much more successful in pretty much everything if you spend more of your time and energy developing your strengths rather than your weaknesses.

10.  Am I bullshitting myself? It’s important to dream, and dream big. And go for your dreams. But if you’re blind in one eye and you want to be an airline pilot, you probably need a reality check.

When you interview for a job, it isn’t just about your qualifications. The employer has already seen your resume, cover letter, online application, work history, prison record, and photo of you and your first girlfriend making out. Well, maybe not the girlfriend.

The point is, the employer already knows you have the stuff. Of course, he or she does want to know more details about your experience and skills, to further assess whether or not it’s a fit. But there are other reasons for the interview:

  • To make sure you’re presentable. In other words, no major hygiene issues (if they can smell you coming at the other end of the hall, you should probably keep looking. And, of course, buy some deodorant), and appropriate attire — if your boobs are hanging out, it probably won’t go over, unless you’re applying for a job at a strip club.
  • To conduct the Jeffrey Dahmer test. You know, the guy who killed people and ate them. The employer wants to make sure you’re not a raving lunatic. Not that you can always tell. But at least it’s a bit less likely if they actually get a look at you.
  • To see how well you communicate. No matter how good you look on paper, if you’re an inarticulate idiot you don’t have much of a shot, our President notwithstanding.
  • To see if you’re a good fit with their organization. You don’t have to be clones of your prospective colleagues, but if you’re Marilyn Manson applying for a job with an office full of Dick Cheneys, it probably won’t work.
  • To see if it’s a match in general. Kind of like a first date. If you try too hard to impress the other person, it makes you look either  a. desperate, or  b. arrogant, both of which are a big turn-off in either a job or a dating situation. It works much better to go at it with the mindset of figuring out if there’s chemistry, if you meet each other’s needs and desires, and if it feels good. Of course, if it feels TOO good, it may actually be a cult.

Here are some that come to mind – more in a later post….

1.  How many times you’ve been married…or divorced, or engaged, or dumped, or been on a really bad date…you get the idea. Anything related to your love life doesn’t belong on your resume.

2.  Your abilities as a contortionist. Unless, of course, you’re applying for jobs with the circus, or are interested in becoming a porn star. Otherwise, bizarro skills that have nothing whatsoever to do with the jobs you’re targeting have no business on your resume.

3.  God-related activities. If you’re not applying for a god-related position (i.e., minister, mausoleum tour guide, Pope-in-training), don’t include your religious activities on your resume. Too much potential for discrimination.

4.  High-school graduation dates. Especially if you graduated when Barry Manilow was popular.  Generally, it’s not a good idea to invite age discrimination. Same goes for dates of college graduation and, of course, your actual date of birth, for the same reason.

5.  Elementary school info. Nobody cares.

6.  Your ethnicity. I sincerely hope you already knew that, but if you didn’t, there it is.

7.  Hobbies. Again, nobody cares.

8.  Volunteer work for potentially controversial organizations, especially ones that label you a racist and/or sexist asshole. So if you’re the Vice President of the Society for White Male Supremacists With Hair, keep it to yourself.

9.  Jobs you had when you were jailbait. No one cares about your camp counselor experience at Lake Winnesprocket when you were 15. And if you were 15 when Jimmy Carter was President, that goes double for you.

10. “References will be furnished upon request.” Of course they will. If an employer requests references and you tell her to go screw herself, a job offer won’t likely be forthcoming.