Employment Game Part III: Prospecting

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by Featured Guest on September 5, 2011

By Uncle Elmer

Amidst criticism that my previous essays were long on rant and short on practical advice, I am switching up the sequence slightly to provide some useful tips on how to find work. Also, let’s make the distinction that these essays are about marketing your existing skills to find work, not about developing those skills. That is a topic worthy of its own series, and given the feminization of education and the workplace, would be a lively discussion at the Spearhead.

We are putting the cart ahead of the horse here as there a few things you need to get in place before you attempt these moves. Specifically, you need to get your sales package together and implement a continual marketing process so you can handle the interviews that will result from the actions I am about to describe. By “sales package” I mean whatever it takes to make a good impression and leave them with contact information. For some of you guys a clean pair of shoes would be a good place to start. As you grow in sophistication you can add a pair of gabardines and and executive-style hairdo. Part IV of this series will discuss developing your sales narrative, marketing materials, attire, attitude, and presentation skills. Let’s assume for now that you have all that in place and are ready to not completely screw up your interviews.

A couple of things to keep in mind : developing your marketing process is a long-term activity. You need to work it continually for the rest of your days. Get the basics in place and hone the details over time. Secondly, there is the sales cycle, the time lag between prospecting and landing the work. This typically takes many months. With that in mind, you can start looking for work and preparing your marketing materials at the same time. But at the least before you begin, have a business card and capability sheet (often referred to as a “resume”) prepared so if a prospect calls you or you speak to him directly, the interaction flows smoothly and you come off with some level of confidence and professionalism. The interview is the wrong time to begin practicing your salesmanship. When that happens, you will depart feeling like a chump for not having practiced just a little bit, which would have made all the difference.

Let’s also talk about what doesn’t work. No doubt you have seen the occasional “jobs concern” storyline, which has an opening anecdote about some poor individual who has sent out hundreds, nay, thousands of resumes and has not gotten one bite. These stories are often acommpanied by a photo of about 2,000 consternated people standing in line at a “job fair”. Complimenting these essays are useless 10-point lists for finding work, identified by preposterous directives to “demonstrate your social networking skills” or ‘extend your network through family and friends”. The taglines for these essays often claim the author as a leading employment search expert, though from the uselessness of their information one can discern that they have not actually spent years toiling in a trade or selling their services as a consultant. Their career is selling “career advice” or “personal success coaching”, along with books to sell. The generality of their advice doesn’t help you see through the fog and give you tangible actions that make you fel like you’re climbing out of the pit. Similar to a lot of “get rich in real estate” books.

Look, I’m just your Uncle Elmer and I’m not selling anything. We’re out in the garage looking at an old motor and you just endured Elmer taking an excruciating 4 and half minutes to empty his bladder into the piss jug. He knows you guys are laughing behind his back and elbowing each other to get him to scald your ears with some ribald tales. What he has to say is non-compliant and that’s why you think it’s so entertaining, but there’s a kernel of truth buried cynicism.

And I don’t want to dump my crusty negativity on some of the women “career” bloggers out there but my gut sense is that they are short on actual decades of trench experience. The hard-boiled ladies out there who have actually started and operated businesses don’t seem to be sharing their experiences. Generally you should ignore advice coming from women because it is just part of their nature to talk up insecurity and social pecking orders.

What I have seen lately are essays advising the use of social media and career link websites to look for work. This, in addition to mass resume mailings, is a shotgun approach that only dilutes the effectiveness of your marketing. The lousy feedback coupled with the high volume effort is likely to cause you to question the fulility of it all. Aesop had a fable with the moral “he who has many friends has no friends”. That applies to social media. Most older men (and that’s really who you want to target) don’t use “social media” anyway. My advice for you is to “link out”, and come up with an alternative method for finding prospects that will actually talk to you.

One other caveat. If you are enjoying long-term employment in a stable industry, or have a trade in such high demand that you don’t have to seek out work, what I have to say may be of little use to you. Whatever industry you work in though, an understanding of how the gears turn coupled with some salesmanship and presentation skills can make the difference between stagnation and self-actualization. If you’re in the habit of keeping your head down and waiting for assignments to process you may be headed for extinction.

To find work opporunities, one needs to look for signs of economic activity. Marketing is understanding the money behavior of your target industry. Just as when you are fishing you look for spots in the water where food may be concentrating and likely have fish to catch, to find work you need to spot where the money is concentrating and new work opportunities will be opening up. What I am about to tell you is a few ways, by no means all, on how to identify the money stream. I am hoping some of the readers offer their own tips. For example, I have not made much use of company business profile or industry reports, but think that could be a valuable resource so long as you don’t pay too much for it.

Let’s get started. This is the hard part and I don’t have all the answers. I will relate what has been working for me, a technocrat with many years experience, but the methods will work wherever you are in the food chain. In fact, I am addressing this essay to my 23 yo son Shemp, who is probably like a lot of younger guys on this site; limited job experience, some community college classes, frustration in finding work while observing that young women appear to have all the advantages. This essay was stalled as I tried to counsel him on how to approach a business looking for work with techniques I used 30 years ago. What Shemp tells me about his work search now is that when he shows up at some place, they say “apply online”, which sounds like a brush-off, and sure enough, he was getting no response until recently when he actually got an interview. But he describes the online processing as immensely frustrating, echoing my own experience in the past few years where I entered my data into a company jobsite and promptly got an email saying “while your qualifications are impressive…”

I no longer even attempt that approach but you may want to do it as a background task as long as you don’t put too much hopefulness in the outcome. Sometimes you will get a bite from the oddest fishing attempts and haul in the big one.

The key point for increasing your probability of getting work is that you have to make human contact with a man placed high enough in the target organization to extend you a job. You identify this man through intelligence gathering. Your primary means of gathering information is of course, your local internet. The important thing is to get in front of the guy who is able to give you work. You accomplish this by careful research and targeting, followed by an attempt to contact. Usually this gets ignored. If you develop a continual process and learn from your mistakes, eventually you are going to get a response. When I finally got it in my head that this was the only way, I made the simple goal of “one act of marketing per week”. That’s really not much effort and has paid off well, with about 51 rejections a year yet at least one contract to keep me alive. But even the rejections have expanded my network and increased my salesmanship potential.

The second thing is once you have gotten audience with a contact, you are going to give a him brief narrative of what you do and what you are looking for, while spinning it as “value added” to his business. A tough thing to pull off, all within 30 seconds before handing him your card and offering him your capability sheet, which you will have ready to fork over. The conversation may continue or he will cut you short, it’s his call. Act like a pro and minimize projecting a bullshit image. Here again, practicing a little before jumping into the stream will pay off. Be prepared, be relaxed, and conversational. When you approach him you want him to sense from your style and body language that your pitch will be short and unpressured. A positive aspect of this approach is that he has likely encountered a steady stream of job seekers which causes him to set up defensive walls from the sheer difficulty in turning people down, not to mention employment legalities he has to worry about. When you approach him as a consultant/free agent (even if you are really seeking direct employment) then the conversation is more relaxed and fluid. There will be a freer exchange of industry knowledge and ideas and possibly some new leads for you. Almost always you leave with a “maybe in the future” handshake. If he has a project in the works you have just bumped yourself up into the realm of real candidacy.

Methods

Here I have also gotten stuck while writing this essay. In no way can I write out a comprehensive list of techniques that works for everyone in all contexts. What I am about to describe works for me, based on my trade skills and industry. Take it as an example, then do the legwork for your particular situation. The basic theme is this : identify the money and players in your industry, craft an approach, execute it, review your mistakes and successes, then repeat.

For low-experience guys approaching small businesses, you may be able to get owner/proprieter info from your local online municipal data. You also may need to get to the right man through trusted low-level contacts, who often can be helpful in getting you mentioned or passing along your capability sheet. The following methods are really for more experienced guys but still have usefulness to low-end seeker in that they help identify companies that might be hiring. If they have received funding they may be looking for people at various levels. So rather than a shotgun job search approach you will narrow your search to companies that are experiencing growth or new projects. Furthermore, on the low end jobs, if they have advertised it you can be sure they have been deluged with applications. Using the following tactics can help you identify those companies before they get the ad out, giving you a huge leg up on the competition.

Though contract job ads can be a good indicator of activity at a company; even if the prime isn’t listed you can usually find our who it is with a web seatch, then find the players, then get your resume directly to him.

Blind internet search. I actually found my last string of work this way. First I crafted a customizable cover letter, capability sheet printed with professional looking header, and business card. The cover and capability sheet cast me as an independent consultant, ElmerTech Services. Also I had some envelopes printed up with my company name and address because running an envelope through your printer usually ruins it. My home address sounds like it could be a business; if yours sounds a little too suburban you might want to consider a PO box. Now the next thing was to search online for tech companies in my city with google( mytown mytrade careers) or google(mytown mytrade employment opportunities) to find local company job listings. Often these are quite old as they don’t update the sites often. Now this might find you some useful info, but you need to work up the chain a little bit and find who the head tech or engineer is, often listed somewhere else on the site. Look at their “in the news” page or “company history” page and you might find someone. Also you want to drop the “career” search and look for companies doing your trade, like “welding suppliers” or “caterers”, whatever. Anyway, after getting all the envelopes and cards printed up, the first guy I sent one to called me in to talk! But it took months to actually get work out of him. He even sent me a “sorry, we gave it to someone else letter”, then when I was overseas, sent me another one offering me the job.

Publications. Most companies in technical industries will routinely publish “white papers” and journal articles about their topic of expertise, usually some research or product development they have done. The authors of these papers often have their contact information listed. You can send the type of letter I described, or just an email (or even a phone call, if you dare) showing interest or mentioning related work you have done. Again, simply use your search engine to find publications. Very often you will only get a citation or first page, but that may be enough to get some contact data. These journal articles also provide a lot of insight into the work going on at the company, such as existing or new projects. The more you dig the more you will find. Reading the article before talking to them is also great preparation and helps you ask intelligent questions or guide the discussion.

Federal Money Spigots. After I got the job with the tech company the owner gave me quite an education in entrepreneurship. He had been working “SBIR” contracts for a number of years, and every cycle submitted several proposals. SBIR means Small Business Innovation Research, a federal program mandating that a percentage of government research dollars goes to small businesses. He lost the contract I was hired to work on, a real letdown for me after a long dry spell. So I attempted my own SBIR proposal, and damned if I didn’t win. After that I started pursuing SBIRs with a vengeance and wrote proposals for several companies. Turns out it was beginner’s luck and the game is much tighter to win than that. But anyway, for you the point is that the SBIR sites list awards given to companies, and from there, you can get a lead on new business. If they have won a Phase II award, there may be greater need for your services. Check out http://www.dodsbir.net and http://www.dodsbir.net/awards

Now there’s another source that has a lot of this kind of information, known as Federal Business Opportunities, or fedbizopp. This is the central website listing all goods and service contracts for the US government. It lists upcoming contracts to be awarded and how to submit proposals or capability statements to win them. I have written quite a few of these with a lot of feedback but little actual award. Apparently by the time it makes it to fedbizopp, the contract is already “wired” even more than a SBIR. At least with a SBIR you have a chance outside the main proposer, whereas for fedbizopp there is only one, and they usually have the inside scoop. However, it is still a great source of award information. A nice thing about their site is that you can set custom search filters and it will automatically send you emails when new contracts appear for that topic or locality. Take a look at https://www.fbo.gov and set up a “general public” account.

Networking. OK, nothing new as everyone says to do it. But you need to take your business card and put it into action.It takes time, perhaps years to build it up, the same for marketing any product. Try to look like you’re a pro and not some desperate job seeker. Join a local trade group, attend trade shows and seminars, and start talking to people. Keep it low key and do it when you have work. You are seeking industry intelligence, not job openings.

Publish. Getting something in print is a big help. If you are in a technical field you should work towards getting journal publications. If you aren’t at that level, putting together a professional looking website with some of your portfolio work is helpful. You don’t have to be a great writer, just demonstrate your work. Take photos of some of the work you are doing and put it in there. Build it up and polish it over time. Put the URL on your business card. Otherwise reduce your internet footprint and get rid of your facebook and other trash.

This is just a beginning and really only a few methods to start with. What I hope to have impressed upon you is the need to gather your own intelligence and craft an approach that will get you in front of people who can hire you. This can be painful as you will be met with no small amount of rejection, but the few successes you will enjoy provide a sense of vindication and confidence that you can pull in the work no matter the current business climate.

{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

hf September 5, 2011 at 10:14

Thanks, Uncle Elmer. Youre insight is very extensive and very much appreciated.

A couple things I might add, if I may-
When a new position opens up, apply for it as soon as possible. Even though the opening may be listed as ‘accepting applicants until such and such date’, this shouldnt be taken literally. It is best to jump at the oppurtunity as soon as possible. Once an employer finds a suitable
candidate, it is unlikely that they will continue to look, even though
they are still accepting applicants.

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hf September 5, 2011 at 10:26

There is more I would like to add to my above comment…sorry, posting comments to this site from a tablet is a bit screwy.

To be able to jump at job opportunity as quickly as possible, one needs to be ready. This gels with with what UE has already mentioned, but Ill elaborate. Keep your resume up to date so that when that opportunity does arise, you have an up to date account of skills and qualifications ready to present.

And if for some reason one’s resume hasnt landed that initial call back for an interview, consider revising your resume. The resume is simply to get your foot in the door. As such, if a resume has been submitted to dozens of job openings without any bites, chances are that resume needs to be revised.

Thanks again, Uncle Elmer. As always your insights hold weight.

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PeterTheGreat September 5, 2011 at 13:08

Guys should practice their handshake as well. Nothing comes across worse than a limp-handed sissy handshake. Give a firm handshake while thanking him while looking in his eyes.

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Ryu September 5, 2011 at 14:42

Hey old timer,

I see you doing the networking over at IMF’s linkfest. Good article. Do you have any insight on how to penetrate the professional persona and talk man to man?

Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
Avenger September 5, 2011 at 14:57

Guys should practice their handshake as well. Nothing comes across worse than a limp-handed sissy handshake. Give a firm handshake while thanking him while looking in his eyes

I never shake hands, it’s vulgar. Besides, it’s insanitary and spreads germs especially if it’s a female who has a yeast infection and was just scratching her pussy a minute before :o )

Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 12
Opus September 5, 2011 at 15:00

I see that today is Labor Day in the U.S.A. which means that no one is working in the HR departments where I sent my colorful resume, and does not enable me to put into practise Uncle Elmer’s advice on the humorously dark arts of finding employment. (please note in honor of this day and as a mark of respect to our cousins this comment is spelt in American English throughout – I do not intend to make a habit of it! – u can see what is missing)

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Avenger September 5, 2011 at 15:02

don’t you mean spelled?

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Opus September 5, 2011 at 15:12

@Avenger

I think I meant spilt.

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[email protected] September 5, 2011 at 15:27

A lot of people, especially those of college age, don’t know how most large organizations actually hire, when they have opening. Let’s say that a college student nearing graduation with a real degree such as mathematics, chemistry, engineering, etc. goes to a job fair. There are government agencies, big companies, some medium sized companies, all with reps in suits. A day or three later, he gets some face time in a room or a cube with one or maybe two reps from an agency, or a go-co, or a corporation. That’s just the start.

None of the men and women there can hire anyone. They cannot say “Yes” to anyone. What they do is say either “No” or “Maybe”. So if you are going this route, all you need is a “maybe”. Elmer’s advice above on presentation matters. Knowing your field and being able to talk competently matters also. Some corps will send out people who can ask a couple of genuine technical questions – be ready to answer them.

A “maybe” at this level means your resume/vitae gets passed around to interested parties, typically line managers or mid level managers. Someone in a work group may decide to take a closer look. That means you get a telephone call, a phone screen. Young men who have answering machines need to pay attention to the message – what was killer laughs to the bros in the sophomore year is not likely to be useful when someone looking for a job candidate hires. Ditto for the cell phone, it might be a good idea to look and see who is calling before whipping it out with a “Wassup?” in a crowded joint. Might be better to let it go to the cellphone answer. Because if it’s a cold call phone screen, the manager on the other end wants to start talking to you like you are a professional at that moment which puts you on the defensive. Schedule that call for a time when you can be in a quiet place, with no distractions, and concentrate on the interview. To succeed at the phone screen you need a frame just like in pickup game, and maintain that frame during the call.

And again, all they can say is “maybe” or “no” so you just want to get to “maybe”. If you get there, the next step is a plant trip/site visit.

In tech realms, you will meet multiple members of the team, often starting at breakfast. You’ll be under scrutiny the whole time. Stay cool and on message. Table manners matter. Ability to answer technical questions, if relevant, matters. Bear in mind that people will be discussing you during the site visit – via email, chat, text, phone, etc. the whole time. Be professional to everyone. Don’t joke around, time for that later. Don’t join in bull sessions. You’re there to sell, not to BS.

Never discuss salary expectations for an entry level position. Never discuss holiday/vacation expectations for an entry level position. Only discuss the job, and your qualifications to do it. Compensation discussions, if any, must come only after they make it known they want you to come work.

In a way, the whole interview process is like dating/hookup. You want information, they want information, you want a job for decent money, they want an employee who won’t slack/disrupt teams/screw up too much. Bear in mind that on a site visit, everyone is on best behavior. The company is treating you on their best behavior, too. One jerk in a team is not enough to decline a job, but if everyone there strikes you as a grade-A stinker, you might want to know more before signing up.

Now, what Elmer is telling us is how to go around this whole process, and for anyone who has been out on the job market for a while, and therefore has some sort of reputation, his approach can work very, very well. What I’m outlining in the above is what typical new college grads can expect, if they are in a field where there is demand. People with degrees in many of the liberal arts will have to go more towards Elmer’s side of things, because the agencies/government contractors/companies are not looking to hire them nearly as much.

A word about compensation: once an offer is made, there is some wiggle room. But not much, especially to a newbie college grad, because someone at the beginning of a career is worth a certain amount of goods and services, period. More expensive locations might pay more, but that’s because it costs more to live there: $60,000 in San Jose might buy less than $50,000 in Phoenix, for example.

One last observation: if you decide to go an independent contractor route, you need either an accountant, or good tax software. Because you will be paying both sides of FICA taxes, but on the other hand some of your expenses can be tax deductions, if they are documented. A shoe box full of receipts ain’t gonna cut it.

Good stuff, Elmer, good stuff.

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Rebel September 5, 2011 at 15:43

I used to hire people. Here are a few things I would suggest you do.

Work on your first impression: you have only one chance to make a good impression and the window lasts only 30 seconds.

Handshake is very important.
Keep you C.V. up-to-date. (With NO spelling mistake. Get yourself a nice template, nothing too sophisticated. No frills.)
If you send a CV, always follow up with a phone call.
Call several times if you need to: persistence gives you lots of brownie points.
Dress well and clean.
Be prepared to answer all questions.
Tell the truth: employers sometimes utilize techniques to lead you astray. Don’t assume that you know what the employer is looking for.
Keep eye contact. Do not argue with the interviewer. (that’s a no-no-no!!)

Two jobs out of three are given through references inside the company: if you know someone who works at the company, play the card.

Call back one day after the interview.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the order: “when do I begin?”

Don’t oversell yourself: it shows. Project enough confidence.
Show enthusiasm and ambition.

Again, you have only one chance at making a good first impression, the one that counts.

Before an interview, become knowledgeable about the company where you want to work. Know their products and especially their mission statement.

Always have something good to say about said company.

Settle for a job under your capacity: you will make it up once you’re hired.

Important: your hobbies. They should align with the company’s interests.

Your C.V. is your best ally. Keep it simple. Don’t forget to indicate references with phone number: make it easy to check on you.
Two pages maximum: employers read through so many C.V., if yours is too long, it will NOT be read.

Apply for the job as soon as it becomes available: first come…
Relax.

Good luck.

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Uncle Elmer September 5, 2011 at 15:50

“I see you doing the networking over at IMF’s linkfest. Good article. Do you have any insight on how to penetrate the professional persona and talk man to man?”

Thanks Ryu, one must sometimes engage in naked self promotion.

It takes time, practice, and failure to perfect the “professional” shtick. In part IV I will discuss shopping for gabardines and other accessories to accentuate the sales pro image. Beyond that one has to study and put into practice speaking skills, techniques of influence, and most importantly, projecting self-confidence.

When you let them make you start jumping through hoops, your professional persona is destroyed. It’s downhill from there. Similar to a woman’s shit test I suppose. Happens to the best of ‘em.

As for shaking hands, I always discretely find a way to wash my hands after shaking it with some pud-puller. Until then I avoid touching my face or nostril area. Quick way to catch a cold if your aren’t careful.

Hermann has pointed me to this link on handshakes, can’t vouch for the website though :

http://artofmanliness.com/2011/08/22/manly-handshake/

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Uncle Elmer September 5, 2011 at 15:59

“Always have something good to say about said company.”

And never bad mouth your previous gig. They may try to coax it out of you.

As I have told Shemp and Hermann, it doesn’t matter if you were just in the state pen, talk it up like it was a great experience.

“I like the way everyone pulled together…”

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Uncle Elmer September 5, 2011 at 16:28

Excellent points anonymous_reader, especially regarding your cell phone and message. My own message defaults to an infuriating fembot voice dictating 20 options for leaving a message. I need to change it.

Same for Shemp. I wanted to clobber him as I pushed him to find work. His cell would ring 12 times and then gave his message which sounded like some drunk being rousted from the alley.

But he got hired after getting an interview. I coached him for several days on exactly what you are talking about. After he got the gig and they had an all-hands orientation session, I warned him to watch his mouth and let some other dude/broad offer up their opinion or inane questions on everything.

Also tax issues for contractors are an important topic and one often overlooked by guys just starting that path. It’s a rude shock to do your federal taxes and realize you should have charged and paid enough to cover your social security wages, or “self-employment tax”.

Thanks again for your great pointers. My essay is speaking mainly to guys trying the independent route and your info is useful for younger men entering the corporate jungle.

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AfOR September 5, 2011 at 17:43

Some good points, but you omit the vital fact that the job market like any other market is a dynamic thing, compare for example two guys, one selling gold for the past year, and one selling mortgages.

As it happens this applys to the pussy market too… click my name for more on this, I have noticed very real and sweeping changes in what wimminz want and offer on internet dating over the past few weeks due to the impending economic crash.

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Stick September 5, 2011 at 18:46

At 47 I was a self employed carpenter and plasterer and doing well, but age catches up with you in the building game. So I joined the Army reserves (in Australia), trained as a combat engineer, went overseas and came back with some spare cash. I spent it getting plant operator tickets, doing safety courses etc. and applied for scores of ‘Trainee’ positions in mining. I did it. At 51 I got a job in a mine driving Cat 785 trucks and now they’re training me up on Cat D11 dozers. The point is, DON’T GIVE UP and do courses RELEVANT to the position you’re applying for and have a STABLE work history.

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Charles Martel September 5, 2011 at 19:26

A rising tide floats all boats. Look for work in (1) a segment of the economy that is growing, (2) a location where there is economic growth.

The interactive map at the linked location has a tremendous amount of valuable information for job-seekers: What States, Counties, Industries Have Job Growth?

So….health care in North Dakota – good. Construction in Maine – bad. You get the idea.

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LovetheDesert September 5, 2011 at 19:58

29 years old, job history consists of the following crap:

(1) ad-inserter at local newspaper, part time, grave yard
(2) dishwashing at about 4 different restaurants, no desire to be a cook for $1 more per hour
(3) graveyard veterinary assistant (aka kennel cleaner, required 1 year college to get certified, paid $7.57 per hour)
(4) part time kitchen job at nursing home pouring drinks and setting up trays
(5) early morning janitor at Mervyn’s department store, part time…

the list go could on and on.

Now, I’m f##king 30 years old, I don’t have a dime to my name, could go back to school for the 3rd time using a Pell Grant, but that’s guarantee of a job, plus I’m not interesting in becoming a nurse or anything that does have possible chance of finding employment.

Basically, I’ve given up, don’t give a rat’s ass anymore. Live at home with my parents, spend my day mountain biking, watching X-Files reruns, reading books on Loch Ness monster, staying up all night listening to George Noory, and generally screwing around on the computer with whatever time I have left.

I did have a job working at Denny’s a couple weeks ago, but I had to leave that sinking ship. I saw no point in working my ass off at 5:00am in the morning washing dishes, for minimum wage, no benefits, no respect by anyone at work, basically no hope for the future, so I walked off the job.

As far as I’m concerned, my 4+ years of hard dishwashing labor at other places has been enough. I would rather do nothing at this point. I see no point in working at a job that requires a 15 mile drive, when the gas is pushing 4 dollars per gallon. It’s not worth the effort. I’ll never be able to raise a family on it, let alone support myself, not without food stamp. So screw it. Don’t care.

I’m officially a “discouraged worker” not counted among the “unemployed.”

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LovetheDesert September 5, 2011 at 20:03

Just like to reply to what STick said a couple posts above me:

Yes, a stable work history is very important. If you’re like me, and you’ve already screwed up your work history, it limits your job prospects to basically whatever desperate, low paying, slave wage job that you can find. You will have ZERO choice in the matter. It will be totally up to somebody taking mercy on you at this point. Trust me.

I’ve only been in the job force about 10 years or so. But it seems the last 6 years have just seen me taking one crap job after another simply out of desperation. Not a good thing.

Compound that with the fact that the youth of today are approaching huge rates of unemployment. And basically there’s is no way to get your foot in the door, or try out different fields. It’s basically very cut throat out there, and if you don’t have awesome references, and have never been out of a job for like 6 months, you are digging yourself a deeper whole. But then there’s like no way out.

It’s very depressing.

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LovetheDesert September 5, 2011 at 20:20

One more thing,

I don’t think anyone over, say, 35 understands just how little opportunity there is left out there. People my parents age, who have worked at like one job their entire adult life, have no clue what’s it’s like today.

When my parents were starting out, my dad could fill up his car for like six bucks, he told me. They bought their first house for around 10,000 dollars. My mom is part of a worker’s union and has job security… how alien a concept to me. When I’ve been threatened to be fired for as little as standing on the shelf at a warehouse while trying to get something down from above. Where’s my stinking job security?

My dad never went to college, neither did anyone else on his side of the family. But they all managed, made lives for themselves, bought homes, had kids, bla bla bla.

But, here’s the thing… the children that they raised, my cousins, most of whom are late twenties and thirties. Most are divorced, some had drug addictions, some are filing bankruptcy, they’re under employed, joined the marines thinking it would improve their lives…

Boomers man, they make me sick.

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Uncle Elmer September 5, 2011 at 20:57

Nice anecdote Stick.

When I knew I was going to get canned from one corporation I put in the effort to get a “PMP” (project management certification). Never used it officially until just recently when I snagged a contract partly based on that qualification. Also at another corporation at the age of 50 took some grad classes which together with the PMP helped me get into a new line of work.

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Laguna Beach Fogey September 5, 2011 at 23:02

Excellent advice.

It’s very important, too, to dress well, to wear professional clothes, and to practice proper grooming and manscaping techniques.

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Robert September 6, 2011 at 01:17

I am not a fan of MSN but, take a look at what jobs pay $ 30 plus per hour.

http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-2726-Salaries-Promotions-30-Jobs-that-pay-30-per-hour/?SiteId=cbmsnhp42726&sc_extcmp=JS_2726_home1&gt1=23000

My advice to young men; educate yourselves in STEM subjects, consider online college courses/majors then, be prepared to start at the bottom or whever you are offered a job. While gaining experience on the job, continue to build your education and job skills to make youself an exceptional commodity to the company. Seek companies where you can have a real career ( my idea of a career is one that pays retirement pay/a pension).

I also advise any man to seek careers/jobs where they not only get paid well but, enjoy what they are doing. Who wants to spend 20 plus years hating their job/career?

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Robert September 6, 2011 at 01:21

Uncle Elmer, you deserve over one billion thumbs up for this great article. I hope every man who reads it takes it for the excellent advice/information it is. Now young men might understand what I meant when I said ” there is wisdom in years.”

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Robert September 6, 2011 at 01:34

One thing that is important during an interview; breathe.

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Opus September 6, 2011 at 01:47

I have just invented an interesting hypothesis: that some people are generally stable and others aren’t; by which I mean, all those years ago when I went to work for the first time, I joined on the same day as another chap my age; he is still there and still married to the same unattractive woman he married shortly therafter. I on the other hand have had as many women as I have had jobs, i’d guess. Is there some correlation here? My own view about job interviews is that you get the job if the interviewer wants to sleep with you – at least that is usually what happens to me.

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oddsock September 6, 2011 at 01:48

I too was involved in job search and interview techniques.

Most of what has been said is IMHO good sound advice. (a) A firm handshake and good eye contact is a must. You can lose the job in the first few seconds.

With respect guys, I am a little surprised that despite all of your experience etc, none of you have mentioned the “trick question” not always but quite often used by an interviewer. The favourite type is; Ok, what are your weak points ? You would be amazed at how many people quite happily list all the reasons they should not be given the job.

Assertiveness pays off. Simply say; none that come to mind, sometimes they will push you and try and force you into saying something that will lose you the job. The way to deal with this is to say, in a polite manner, yes I have weak points but none that would affect my role/duties in this employment.

Like I said, it is used often enough and can be said in different ways but the aim is always the same. They are asking you to tell them why you will not be a good employee and depending on the type of job, your ability to stand up to being pushed or manipulated. Your response must always be positive and polite.

Do not think that by listing things like ” I am sometimes a little late ” or I hate working overtime etc etc is going to show them you are only human. This type of question is often asked at “what you think” is the end of the interview and with a touch of humour. No no no. The interview has not ended until you actually leave the place.

Remember, if you are asked this type of question ? Be polite and simply say you dont have any weak points that would affect your duties or simply reply, none that come to mind.

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oddsock September 6, 2011 at 01:50

Rebel

“Important: your hobbies. They should align with the company’s interests.”

Inflatable sheep, harmonica and bagpipes !

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Simon the Black September 6, 2011 at 03:40

Totally off topic. Frenchman ordered to pay wife damages for lack of sex? Hell, every wife on earth owes damages then!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/8741895/Frenchman-ordered-to-pay-wife-damages-for-lack-of-sex.html

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Simon the Black September 6, 2011 at 03:57

Also off topic,

here’s the girl of your dreams fellas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYtF83ToMXA

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stranger September 6, 2011 at 05:12

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/8741895/Frenchman-ordered-to-pay-wife-damages-for-lack-of-sex.html

“A Frenchman has been ordered to pay his ex-wife £8,500 in damages for failing to have enough sex with her during their marriage.”

“A judge has now ruled that this law implies that ‘sexual relations must form part of a marriage’.”

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Robert September 6, 2011 at 06:28

oddsock September 6, 2011 at 01:48

Here’s another; “where do you see yourself in five to ten years from now?”.

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Robert September 6, 2011 at 06:29

oddsock September 6, 2011 at 01:50

No good scotch?

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Uncle Elmer September 6, 2011 at 06:44

“My advice to young men; educate yourselves in STEM subjects, consider online college courses/majors then, be prepared to start at the bottom or whever you are offered a job. While gaining experience on the job, continue to build your education and job skills to make youself an exceptional commodity to the company. Seek companies where you can have a real career ( my idea of a career is one that pays retirement pay/a pension).”

—————

Robert, that is exactly what I have been telling Hermann. He wants to go out of state for college but I warned him about the steep cost of doing that. I advised getting some marketable tech skills, then moving where he wants and getting hired by a company that can get him in-state tuition + reimbursement. Also online classes from reputable schools are a great opportunity to build your skillset. Thanks.

Though the career/retirement thing has definitely become more difficult for all young men as many of our institutions have been destabilized through feminization. Worthy of its own essay.

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Uncle Elmer September 6, 2011 at 06:52

” none of you have mentioned the “trick question” not always but quite often used by an interviewer. The favourite type is; Ok, what are your weak points ?”

Important point oddsock. With my honesty and verbal skills I have done exactly that: regaled them with hilarious anecdotes detailing why they shouldn’t hire me. As a raucous party-guy I also have a tendency to share funny stories that make their hair stand on end, when I am just trying to get them to see that I am a regular guy. Most people lead pretty dull lives apparently and are terrified to hear these things or think I am being a braggart. Instant interview death, though they don’t say anything. It’s only later I realize I totally blew it.

From the book “Making it in High Tech Sales” : He who reveals the most about himself loses.

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Uncle Elmer September 6, 2011 at 07:02

“I have just invented an interesting hypothesis: that some people are generally stable and others aren’t;”

—————–

More brilliant observations from the peanut gallery. I am of the latter persuasion and looking back over my checkered “career” wonder why I couldn’t just color between the lines like the other kids and stay the hell out of trouble. Always it was to everyone’s delight that I was hauled out and shot. But the “good girls” were always hot for a little Elmer. When I was stripped to my loincloth and publicly flogged I could discern a distinct blush in their countenance. Later I would throw them atop my steed and gallop post-haste to my lavishly appointed pirate ship.

This phenomenon afflicts many of our young boys and the feminized educational system’s only response seems to be drugging or incarcerating them.

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Uncle Elmer September 6, 2011 at 07:13

I am not a fan of MSN but, take a look at what jobs pay $ 30 plus per hour.

http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-2726-Salaries-Promotions-30-Jobs-that-pay-30-per-hour/?SiteId=cbmsnhp42726&sc_extcmp=JS_2726_home1&gt1=23000

—————————-

Yer yankin’ my chain aren’t you Robert? That’s exactly the kind of useless “career advice” I am talking about. I mean “anthropologist” at the top of the list? “Technical Writer”, “Grant Writer”, “Fashion Designer”?

And “Micro-Computer Programmer” is a dead give-away that this is a bullshit list. Thanks for the laughs.

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oddsock September 6, 2011 at 07:28

Uncle Elmer September 6, 2011 at 06:52
” none of you have mentioned the “trick question” not always but quite often used by an interviewer. The favourite type is; Ok, what are your weak points ?”

Important point oddsock. With my honesty and verbal skills I have done exactly that: regaled them with hilarious anecdotes detailing why they shouldn’t hire me.”

Must admit Uncle Elmer, I am much the same as yourself and done like wise. Sometimes I have done it knowing full well they will not offer me the job. As you may have noticed? I do have a zany sense of humour. I can tell you some stories. Sarcasm is me fave. E.g. I remember an interview ( for a crappy job) in which they informed me that I would need to complete a full medical a drugs and alcohol test an enhanced disclosure police check and two recent written work references that they could also verify by phone contact with said people. I paused for a moment and then replied; the last guy I worked for is dead but if they wish and willing to meet the costs I would arrange for a good spiritualist to see if they can make contact with him on the other side. Ooooh oooh and another similar style interview, I asked if they also required my inside leg measurement and a sperm count? Cheeky feckers !

Having said that. I do think it is well worth remembering and perhaps a lesson for the younger guys not familiar with the interview techniques they may face. After all, our aim is to help men regardless.

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oddsock September 6, 2011 at 07:32

Robert

oddsock

No good scotch?

Don’t like the stuff, but plenty of pretty sheep.

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keyster September 6, 2011 at 07:53

Elmer, I’m kinda surprized your sons are having difficulty failing to launch given having your expertise at their disposal as a job search consultant.

I recently had a prospect at a perfect company for my current and past skills but upon further investigation found the company was female operated; the only male manager being head of the technical stuff, and a real pro-female empowerment mangina. (The grrls actually didn’t seem too bad.) The company is always receiving local and state awards for “best woman owned and operated business”, etc., a real gynocratic operation. I just can’t bring myself to follow through on their interest in me.

I’d rather starve to death than get back into that hopelessly smarmy world of “pretending” how fantastic women are, while men are busy doing most of the actual work. Besides I’m bound to slip up and say something…my mouth gets me into trouble in these “diversity sensitive” environs.

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Uncle Elmer September 6, 2011 at 09:57

“The company is always receiving local and state awards for “best woman owned and operated business”, ”

I am willing to bet that the real owner is a man and his wife is listed as the president/owner so they can take advantage of federal set-asides for “women owned businesses”. It’s a common scam providing lots of material for bullshit “awards” and phony publicity about women creating jobs.

I can’t pretend to go along any more either.

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oddsock September 6, 2011 at 10:18

Uncle Elmer Keyster

“I can’t pretend to go along any more either.”

And that is the exact same position I am in. Makes you wonder if it’s all been a cunning plan to make life so uncomfortable for the likes of us that we eventually leave or just give up ? I cringe when I see a woman manager and lots of female drones in a place.

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keyster September 6, 2011 at 11:01

“I am willing to bet that the real owner is a man and his wife is listed as the president/owner so they can take advantage of federal set-asides for “women owned businesses”.”

Actually her husband and a couple of other guys started the business. She took it over after the divorce, when he cashed out. They get no special money from the government; since they sell their product (software) to goverment institutions, they don’t have to. Female owned and operated usually wins the bid, and these agencies often employ female decision makers.

It is a good a product though, if they’d only learn how to market it they could grow. They don’t want to “get too big….”
….female owned and operated (President), ALL female at the VP level, with one male as an ” executive director of technical services”.

Welcome to the Gynocracy my friends!

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Rocco September 6, 2011 at 11:05

I think health care and social work are great fields for men in the future. Social work especially. The degree is easy and they expect a 20 increase in workers needed now that the family is demolished and we need people to make sure older and younger people are cared for properly.

The field not to go into is green anything unless your a very good business man and know how to outsource.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/opinion/brooks-where-the-jobs-arent.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1315332081-zcCJBoUsPzs86GuzCuT/Sw

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Big Daddy from Cincinnati September 6, 2011 at 16:58

I just got a job at a very well-respected large firm that is in Fortune’s top 10 companies to work for in the US. They sought me out. Why? Because I make a habit out of knowing and helping people within my industry with things that are my specialty.

Become good at your chosen career/occupation. Become known as an expert. Teach others about your expertise. Help people when they would profit from your advice. Nine times out of ten, it won’t directly profit you, but the networking involved in this pays large dividends. Also, teaching at a university level or even a community college extension sets you in a potential employer’s mind as a guru of sorts, and legitimizes the fact that you are the go-to man in your specialty.

I think that the best way to answer the obligatory question about what your weaknesses are is to talk about how you don’t like to stagnate, and you want to be challenged. The truth is, as men, most of us thrive in challenging but winnable situations. That’s what gets you excited to go to work. The day in and day out same-old-thing does not get it for me, at least!

Don’t do something soul-killing just for the money (See social worker, above.) You may need to for a time, but try to limit it so that your self survives intact.

GET A JOB. ANY JOB. If you find yourself out of work suddenly, go get a job. Any job. Then try to improve your lot. There is a real stigma about being long-term unemployed. There are a lot of men who are going to find themselves shit out of luck when hiring picks up some day because they have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the perfect job instead of jumping back in the workforce and working at something. ANYTHING. Stay in the workforce however you can do it! Employers will NOT look at you as being a catch if you have been fiddle-fucking around and fishing for a year after you got laid off. Even if you have been diligently looking for a job, it sure won’t seem that way to a potential employer, who may dismiss you as a lazy bum.

Start a small business doing something. It is a good resume item, and they won’t make you send in a P&L statement to prove how much business you did, if it was not that successful. A GOOD business card and a website will legitimize you quick. You can do all that for well under $50 with Godaddy and Vistaprint.

Get a real email address instead of a yahoo, aol, or gmail account. [email protected] sounds better than [email protected].

Elmer and Oddsock, I remember one time where I *KNOW* that I lost out a primo job because I exposed my sense of humor at the interview. I kicked myself in the ass for that for a YEAR. I knew as soon as I said what I had said that I had screwed the pooch. I had no idea how to fix it, and probably couldn’t at that point. This time, I was very personable, but not too humorous.

I have had several careers. I am a jumper around. I will land on my feet, no matter what life throws my way. I have a friend who worked for 30 years at the same place. When I got pissed off and quit from the same place, to go be a commissioned salesman, he chastised me that I was not going to be able to feed my family. I made $60K that year in an industry that I had never worked in, and $102K the next year. That was a GOOD bit more than he made. And I’ve got stories and experiences that eclipse anything that he ever will have.

You can’t be a pussy in life, and not take the chance. You will be old and gray, and regret that as much as you regret all the pussy that you could have had but didn’t.

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Uncle Elmer September 6, 2011 at 17:47

Thanks for your post Big Daddy. BTW I used to live in the Miami Valley and am well familiar with the Cincinnati area.

Haven’t seen your here before. Have you been lurking or did you find this essay through another channel?

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Big Daddy from Cincinnati September 6, 2011 at 18:28

Elmer,

I’m not in Cinci anymore, but further South. I wrote an article about online dating on The Spearhead here a while back, but I have been scarce lately. I do read the blog as often as I can, but only comment on things that I am really worked up about at the moment!

Yours is a good article. Your points are some of the sorts of things that men would teach their sons, before the world got as screwy as it is these days.

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Ray Manta September 6, 2011 at 23:23

Rocco wrote:
I think health care and social work are great fields for men in the future.

Health care can be a good field, but I have my doubts about social work. In my current gig my supervisor is a woman, but she’s very hands-off and delegates almost everything to subordinates. The co-workers who interact with me on a daily basis are experts or near-experts in their fields and are nearly 100% male. It is an extremely satisfying arrangement.

One thing to watch out for – try not to be the only person who handles a particular job role. There’s safety in numbers and I’ve seen ignorant people try to make someone in this position the “fall guy” if things don’t go well (for whatever reason).

There’s not much to improve on with Uncle Elmer’s advice, although if you do software development or web design work, a web site with a portfolio is obviously a great selling point. Consider contributing to the open-source movement or even developing your own open-source product as a method of advertising.

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codebuster September 6, 2011 at 23:50

Here’s another; “where do you see yourself in five to ten years from now?”

One shouldn’t feel threatened by these trick questions, imho. My first instinct would be to give a sarcastic answer like:

If you sacked me, I would hunt you down and shoot you;
If you promoted me, I would be your servant at your beck and call for life, I will mow your lawn every week, and I would have a shrine dedicated to you and placed in my front garden;
If your wife is hot enough, I will fuck her and take over your company;

Or maybe on a more serious note, I would say something like… damn it, I can’t think what a more serious answer would be without limiting one’s potential and coming across either as a dimwitted plodder or a liar.

But seriously, how are you supposed to answer this smarmy hr-formula question? What sort of great insight do our HR folk think that this clever question reveals? If I was the one doing the interviewing and it was on my list of required questions, anyone who takes it seriously will not be getting the job… unless the job was for a screw-tightener in a widget-manufacturing plant. They may then have cause to demonstrate a desire to elevate themselves to something better within a 5-year span.

If an employer asks this sort of stupid question and expects you to take it seriously, you know that it is they that have made the gaff. Give them the flick, and go elsewhere.

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Ray Manta September 7, 2011 at 00:29

codebuster wrote:
One shouldn’t feel threatened by these trick questions, imho.

If I’m asked a question like what is my greatest weakness, I would answer with something like “I don’t always keep up to date in filing my post-it notes” or “Sometimes I work overtime to complete a job”. It simply is not a fair question to ask someone and if your interviewer is too dim to understand that, move on. Life is too short to salvage lost causes.

If your wife is hot enough, I will fuck her and take over your company;

That probably won’t go over too well with HR staff. Of course they’re almost all women these days. Your best bet is to be able to do and end run around HR and deal directly with the hiring manager.

As to answering where you see yourself in 10 years, how about something like “being in a position to develop a greater level of expertise in my chosen field”. It’s sufficiently vague but doesn’t come off as being flippant or dull.

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universe September 7, 2011 at 00:47

The opening graphic at the top of E’s essay is just hilarious. Thumb-up for the joker who spliced those two images together.
(Even the two E.Indian gents in the picture forefront have smiles on their faces!).
That lemon puckered Uncle E. bah-humbug face is funny enough without being plied atop old Gautauma himself. (Please don’t tell us if this photo is the real you, Uncle E! It’d spoil the image).

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codebuster September 7, 2011 at 01:07

Ray Manta

being in a position to develop a greater level of expertise in my chosen field

Which brings me back to one of my main points, being:

What sort of great insight do our HR folk think that this clever question reveals?

The simple fact is that neither their question nor your answer reveals anything about anyone other than the asker’s stupidity/gullibility. They might as well be asking, “what’s your shoe size?” in the superstitious belief of some sort of correlation between shoe size and, say, competence.

But still, I suppose if you wanted the job for some reason, irrespective of the morons that would “cleverly” ask this of you, you might as well insult their intelligence with the very answer you suggest, as lame and inoffensive as your answer might appear to them to be.

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Ray Manta September 7, 2011 at 05:37

codebuster wrote:
But still, I suppose if you wanted the job for some reason,

My reason is the same as most others – I want to eat and to sleep indoors. Sometimes that means I do things I don’t particularly like. For example, my current workplace requires a suit and tie. I much prefer casual dress but put up with it since the money is good, the work is interesting, my coworkers are sharp, and the hours are reasonable. You may believe that’s insufficient but I say that 4 out of 5 ain’t bad.

irrespective of the morons that would “cleverly” ask this of you, you might as well insult their intelligence

And if you were asked this question by a denizen of the HR department, would you truly care about insulting her intelligence? She’s just an annoying gatekeeper who you won’t be interacting with on a regular basis. Being less than civil to her simply for asking a dumb question doesn’t strike me as too smart.

with the very answer you suggest, as lame and inoffensive as your answer might appear to them to be.

Lame is in the eye of the beholder. Most sensible people in that situation would choose “possibly lame” in preference to the sarcastic, over-the-top answers that came to your mind. In the first case they might not be hired or if they are, their employment sitaution might be less than satisfactory. In the second, you’re certainly going to shoot yourself in the foot. Which would you prefer?

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Uncle Elmer September 7, 2011 at 06:10

“The opening graphic at the top of E’s essay is just hilarious. ”

————————————————

Thanks universe. That’s actually a shot I took while vagabonding through Asia and the bus stopped at this giant statue dedicated to The Cult of Elmer. You see the damndest things over there. After all the pilgrims unloaded and and I pried myself out from the under chicken cages and trussed pigs I walked around to check it out. Had a “gift shoppe” in back located just under what I suppose was the prostate area, where I picked up a swell “Gone A’Whorin’” travel bag as a momento.

Supposedly if you make a donation and say some prayers you will live to a ripe old age and enjoy many fair maidens as a “Sugar Daddy”.

More to come.

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codebuster September 7, 2011 at 06:27

Lame is in the eye of the beholder. Most sensible people in that situation would choose “possibly lame” in preference to the sarcastic, over-the-top answers that came to your mind. In the first case they might not be hired or if they are, their employment sitaution might be less than satisfactory. In the second, you’re certainly going to shoot yourself in the foot. Which would you prefer?

Methinks thou taketh my jesting, with tongue firmly in cheek, a tad too serious. Sarcasm is not the highest form of wit, but hey, it’s mine and I own it. My commentary was less on anyone’s readiness to play their stupid games (we all know what is required just to survive) than it was on the dopey cultures that we live in and the morons that run these collective lunatic asylums. We don’t have to respect these cretins.

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Uncle Elmer September 7, 2011 at 06:53

“One thing to watch out for – try not to be the only person who handles a particular job role. There’s safety in numbers and I’ve seen ignorant people try to make someone in this position the “fall guy” if things don’t go well (for whatever reason).”

———————————————

I have had many incarnations as a “firmware engineer”, for which being the company scapegoat is the job description. There are so many factors contributing to this that it warrants its own special essay The Real Reason the New Guy Can’t Code.

Among them :

The Boss’s Relatives, all 10 uneducated variations

Being handed legacy code that never worked and being told that it did, while tasked to add new functionality by noon Friday

Your threatened co-workers and their clever schemes for getting you kneecapped

Non-technical managers who devise your development schedule : 2 days to code and test the world.

Your allotted schedule getting squeezed into tinier and tinier time frame as everyone else higher up in the chain has delays in getting their crap finished.

The beta pussies who are terrified of ever “getting in trouble” and their willingness to lie and blame you for every possible mistake or delay.

Managers that don’t understand that engineering is a constant process of error and correction.

Homoerotic programmer cliques and their lesbo allies who seek to tag someone as the scapegoat and incompetent, usually a guy with wife and kids, while deliberately handing him bad code or hiding information he needs to do the job.

In larger corporations, a constant barrage of ethics training, harassment training, personal/business goals alignment tasks, 6-sigma training, all-hands meetings (“Repeat : There will be NO layoffs! Get back to work!”), secret recording of who scrawls on the company “rumor board”, special Inspirational presentation by the “Toastmaster” devotees, United Way drives, bovines who act like you are looking at their fat asses,….

Oh, damn, I’m being negative and cynical, and that’s not what Elmer 2.0 is about. Sorry for all that.

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Ray Manta September 7, 2011 at 07:03

codebuster wrote:
Methinks thou taketh my jesting, with tongue firmly in cheek, a tad too serious.

Is that so? Methinks you make too many assumptions about my state of mind. But I’m glad you agree that a bozo insulting your intelligence is hardly worth scuttling a job opportunity over. There actually are a few people I know of who (seriously as far as I can tell) say they wouldn’t take a job in a company with dummies like that. Maybe they can afford to be that choosy, but I put them on the level of that 9+ hottie who has guys hitting on her every 10 minutes. Scarcity must be a near-incomprehensible concept to her and them.

than it was on the dopey cultures that we live in and the morons that run these collective lunatic asylums. We don’t have to respect these cretins.

I have approximately zero respect for them. They’re in their position of power due to a confluence of luck, feminism, and social and legal trends. Something which won’t last that much longer. I got where I was due to hard work and a years-long buildup of expertise. Probably you did too.

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Uncle Elmer September 7, 2011 at 07:16

Ray and codebuster, the canned interview questions are truly insufferable. When Shemp prepared for his interview I warned him these might come up and to have a ready-reply. He scoffed but I raged at him to think about it. As stupid as those questions are the interview is the wrong time to search your mental database for a plausible answer.

Many times the person asking either has been directed to by some HR standard procedure, or is just some guy looking for talent and has little interviewing experience. An engineer who spends his day engineering is going to be an amateur at interviewing you, and he has to cycle through several candidates.

It gets back to a fundamental concept of Employment Game : take charge of the interview and don’t jump through hoops. Be willing to walk away from it.

I realize that there are many unique scenarios and one can’t always play Alpha-dog. Depends a lot on their immediate needs and company structure, along with your current situation. Sometimes you have to humor the HR clowns until you talk with the engineers, at which time you can drop the pretense and share your common interests.

I’ve often thought “if they want you you can’t say anything wrong, if they don’t want you can’t say anything right”. Don’t beat yourself up after the interview, just review your mistakes and move on.

I appreciate the feedback I am getting on this essay. A wealth of experience from you guys that the young bucks can take advantage of.

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universe September 7, 2011 at 10:15

Uncle Elmer September 7, 2011 at 06:10
– Fu-uh…nee . (Now that most of those distracting laughs are out of the way I can begin reading the article!)

More to come.

– Keep ‘em rollin’ E. It’s good to insert the occasional laugh-track amid the serious drama.
BTW: the essay. Lots of good leads and advice for the yung-uns plus differing perspectives for the more seasoned to consider.
Thanks E.

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uh September 7, 2011 at 12:13

Fuck this noise.

I’m going to live in a tent.

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Robert September 7, 2011 at 22:14

codebuster September 6, 2011 at 23:50

Excellent analysis. The “reason” , as I was told was; to judge an applicant’s loyalty to the company before possibly hiring them. The name of the place where I was asked such a question; Wal Mart. This was during the mid 80′s. Wal Mart has no loyalty to it’s employees or as they call them; associates.

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Ray Manta September 8, 2011 at 04:07

Robert wrote:
The “reason” , as I was told was; to judge an applicant’s loyalty to the company before possibly hiring them.

Fascinating. For the type of work I do, contractors are usually hired for specific periods of time, generally six months which can be extended based on demand and suitability for the job. Policies that limit their stay to a specific period (usually 2 years) are usually in place. The attitude of any worker in this position is by necessity going to be “give me my money and I’ll do my job”. Workplace loyalty isn’t in the picture.

Wal-mart apparently hit on the magic formula in the 1980s. Create a crappy job with minimal benefits which has no specific time horizon, but demand ‘loyalty’. It’s a very American, management-inspired idea.

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Ray Manta September 8, 2011 at 04:22

Uncle Elmer wrote:
Ray and codebuster, the canned interview questions are truly insufferable. When Shemp prepared for his interview I warned him these might come up and to have a ready-reply. He scoffed but I raged at him to think about it. As stupid as those questions are the interview is the wrong time to search your mental database for a plausible answer.

Oh yeah, you’ve got to be prepared for their canned questions. These are tricks that any intelligent adult can master and there’s no excuse not to.

For ‘employment game’ I’d like to recommend a website http://troubleshooters.com. Its owner, Steve Litt, has written a number of excellent books on self-employment and promoting yourself. I don’t agree with everything he says (he seems to believe that women are ‘discriminated against’ in the STEM fields, where more like the opposite is the case), but most of his advice is rock-solid and ties in well with your essay.

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Uncle Elmer September 8, 2011 at 06:24

” Policies that limit their stay to a specific period (usually 2 years) are usually in place. ”

Partly this is due to employment laws regarding contract labor. If someone works at only one job site for an extended period he is considered by the IRS as an “employee” and must be given benefits, so companies have to be careful how they handle that. For me I don’t care, just give me the money. As for “employee evaluation”, I don’t want any yearly appraisal insult like you get in the corporation. My “performance review” is simply whether you want me to return the next morning or not.

Thanks for the “troubleshooters” link, I will check it out. One has to be open-minded as not all sources will agree with you on everything, and most are careful to play to the “promoting women” requirement even if they don’t believe it.

I was on a business trip recently and my boss and I were eating dinner. Of course I started raging about the insufferable music and said “If they play Hotel California I’m gonna scream”.

He said “I like Hotel Claifornia, especially the live version”

I told him “Sorry, I can’t work with you.”

Though we found common ground when he told me he could play some Scott Joplin rags on the piano, and we discussed early jazz. Then he asked about some anecdote about porn I had made at an early sales meeting and I remembered the time I went into an old porn shop in Dayton, Ohio and there was some ancient old man in there. The music he was playing on an old “78″ caught my ear and I identified it as Bix Beiderbecke. The old guy was amazed I even knew who that was. Turns out he had seen Bix live in the Hamilton, Ohio area back in the 1920s! I got real excited, then the old guy started shaking nervously like I was going to smack him in the head and run off with his Bix Beiderbecke wax. It was only years later that I realized I had a tendency to scare the crap out of people, and started working on my presentation skills, to be covered in Employment Game IV.

Anyway my boss at the restaurant went on about how he thought women were superior to men. He has two daughters so I understood his clouded judgement on this. I wisely kept my mouth shut.

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Uncle Elmer September 8, 2011 at 06:49

re : Bix Beiderbecke

I found out about Bix many years ago when I was rummaging through my old man’s sparse record collection, which I suppose he bought after he acquired a furniture quality “Grundig” record player and short-wave radio in Germany after the war. He also had a bunch of Mariachi music.

Anyway I put on the Bix “LP” and was intrigued by the quaint, catchy sound. Quite addictive. Or “Hophead music” as one friend disparingly called it when I begged him to “turn off the AC/DC and just listen to it man!”

Bix was the first tragic White pop star.

http://www.starrgennett.org/stories/profiles/wolverines.htm

https://sites.google.com/a/lanepl.org/butler/home/s/stockton-club

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Uncle Elmer September 8, 2011 at 07:33

Here’s some representative Bix samples for you to get started with. Look I know it’s difficult for you young guys to understand this stuff what with your heavily indoctrinated musical upbringing but just try to toss that out and listen to it with a clean slate, keeping in mind that this was crazy, radical stuff back in the day. There were movements afoot to suppress this music for fear it would damage the virtues of young people who heard it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJgfGK7jTho&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86bO53-gpFs&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R05g33jYYwY

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Emily Merkle October 10, 2011 at 10:47

Hi Uncle,

Thanks for giving me the chance to get to know you a little better than a single blog post – I appreciate it. I can empathize with the feelings evoked by the find-a-job hamster wheel. I personally am not a professional blogger – I blog for myself, and anyone who wants to come along for the ride is welcome – but to speak to your topic here, I do include my personal blog along with my other “materials” : my business “code”; my CV which I do not even address; my due diligence. Why the blog? It is a slice of me – and I feel any employer should know their employees/partners. In any case – I have had my share of rejection, typically because 1) I look too young/ 2) I have had too many jobs and too much education/ 3) I think there may be a degree of intimidation/ 4) I am brutally honest – can’t lie to save my life.
I think I will follow your blog. I am an extremist in many ways (hence start-up junkie) so perhaps we may swim in similar currents.
Emily

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anon October 12, 2011 at 17:24

Another woman is reading this blog? How many times Uncle wrote the word “women”? Bonus question, how many times he had something nice to say about us? I wonder what some women had done to Uncle.

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Tom October 13, 2012 at 07:18

I will summarize my unconventional 35+ years post college work experience with some bullet points. I’ve had many ups and downs over the years but am currently one of the few who are doing better than ever in 2012, making twice my age per hour.

A college degree may not improve your career experience unless you are well focused in your profession.

Getting or creating work can happen by collaboration. But ultimately there is only one person who really makes things happen – you.

You must give your all. Do not hold back. Be above average always.

Hard work is essential but soft skills and good communication take you to the top. Practice a lot.

Success has nothing to do with whether you are good looking or butt ugly.

Find a niche in a necessity that can’t be outsourced. There are many. Start at the bottom if you have to. Horatio Alger can still happen to you for real.

Be prepared to wait a long time for a job. Be prepared to step into your ideal job on a moment’s notice. Stay there until their money runs out.

Be an inventor. Try new things. Be willing to stretch yourself and take risks. Be willing to relocate but keep a home base.

There are some damn good paying jobs out there, no matter what you do, can do, will do for a living. Self employment requires thinking, sheer will, and perseverance. There is an answer for every challenge. Avoid non productive activities and be disciplined if you ever expect to get anywhere.

Be confident, be happy, and smile.

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