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jobhunters

i've been wrapped up in the hiring process lately because i'm getting another assistant. been meaning to chime in now and again with some comments on some of the resumes i've received, but between work, family and health issues, well... yeah.

all you schoolyschoolkids out there, here are some tips from someone who has never had any sort of hr training, but has looked at an awful lot of resumes:

get a separate email address for the jobhunt. something simple, like yourname@gmail.com or something. (there's my gmail plug.) don't put your crazy fun personal email address on your resume because 1) i don't need to know you think you're hot or funny or evil or whatnot, and 2) you don't necessarily want me to find out what you've been doing/drinking/screwing on social networking sites. i can find a name, sure, but names are common enough. an email address nails you.

speaking of social networking sites (and the interwebs in general) -- be smart. i'm not saying that you need avoid things like myspace and facebook or blogs (god forbid), but this might be a good time to maybe make your profiles temporarily private or (as suggested above) swap out your email address. i don't know. you may whine and bitch about how your private life is your own, but sweetie, if it's not private at all, then how can you be mad if i stumble across it? surely you looked up the companies you're wooing, right? looked for the good, the bad, the ugly -- the stories of bad treatment, bad salaries, great benefits, bad bosses, etc. my research is the same thing.

(re blogs: a young woman recently wrote many amusing things about her experience as a summer associate at a big firm -- hangovers and harry potter -- on her blog. she may have thought password-protecting it would save her, but google cache is a bitch.)

objectives are pointless.

correctly spelling the name of your potential employer is a wise move. look, face it, we're all naturally self-centered. when we read anything possibly relating to ourselves, we look for our own names. since you're not putting our names on your cover letter, our firm name will have to do. if you didn't have the courtesy to get our name right, why should we have the courtesy to read your letter any further?

apostrophes can be your friend if you use them properly. if you don't, then one day a bitchy old english major is going to laugh at your sorry ass and consign your resume to the NO pile.

don't be cute with your skills. oh my god, how else am i supposed to know you're an enthusiastic-punctual-motivated-self-starter if you don't list it on your resume right next to your proficiency with various microsoft products?

i don't care about your high school activities unless you just barely graduated from high school (in which case i understand that you have nothing else to write about).

spellcheck doesn't let you off the hook. proofread.

don't give me all the details of your former jobs. if you were an assistant in a previous life, saying you provided administrative assistance or worked on administrative tasks is actually sufficient for me. say clerical if you mean clerical. also fine. but don't tell me that you answered phones, made photocopies, calendared meetings, typed letters, faxed documents. believe it or not, i kinda guessed that you might have experience in such things. if you did something a little outside of the scope of what would be considered a typical administrative task, by all means, tell. if you were picked to train incoming assistants, that's fab. (note: training your replacement does not count.)

if you are in school, i'd like to know where.

if you went to a good school, but then spent the next ten years or so in temp jobs and admin jobs without a whole lot of variation in duties, then we are going to speculate that you are an out-of-work actor.

if you want to work at a law firm as staff, don't include in your cover letter/email that you hope to work there as both staff and eventually as an attorney. this may make attorneys smile and think fondly of your work ethic, but as staff, i find it a little irritating. when i see this i think the following: he's a short-timer, he'll leave soon to go to law school, he's already feeling superior (like he's the first guy in the world to ever think that learning about the back door would help him get in the front door), and quite possibly i don't want to spend my time training someone who is going to leave in a year and then WANT to come back in a few years to treat me like shit. now, it's perfectly fine to say that you're law-school bound or that you're interested in seeing how law firms work from the inside because you're thinking about law school. the dept. likes people in transition. i'll still think you're a short-timer, but at least i won't suspect that you have plans to squash us like the little bugs you think us to be.

learn to type. at least 35 words a minute would be nice. tell me, what are they teaching kids in school these days? how can young people have such busy social lives online when they can't even freaking type? i understand that there was that irritating misspelling/random capitalization trend a while back where it didn't matter if you could type or not because you had to work at looking haphazard anyway, but i thought that had simmered down a bit. how can you get through school without typing? i had to take a typing class in the ninth grade. it was called "electronic keyboarding," and man, how that room hummed. we did accuracy tests, speed tests and, my personal favorite, the alphabet test. 18 years later, this is still one of the most valuable skills i know.

if i seem a little fixated on the school thing, it's because my assistant job was posted to a student/alumni job site (you have to get the password from your school, i believe).

aside from typing, if you're applying for an office job, consider actually stooping to learn some of the skills required by one. basic office skills, like alphabetizing. see, before i get to interview anyone, hr administers a series of basic tests (including typing). if you don't pass, i don't even meet you. now, maybe you botched the tests because you were nervous and anxious. hr understands this and may permit you to take the tests again. my current assistant didn't do so hot on the typing test because he was a little nervous (and in a suit jacket). a kind woman in hr told him to take off the jacket and he did fine after that. maybe you deliberately failed the tests because you realized that this environment wasn't for you. okay, fine. maybe you blew off the tests because you had nothing better to do than put on a suit, drive downtown and be laughed at by people possibly less educated than you. who knows?

out of the armload of resumes i saw in the past two weeks, i've okayed four people for interviews. out of the four, i met TWO. luckily, the two were great, but i'm shocked by the fact that two college-educated adults could not pass a basic skills test. (i've heard that the former head of hr, baffled by the fact that so many people were failing, took the test home and gave it to her 8-year-old son. he, of course, passed with flying colors.) if you can't pass these tests, how am i supposed to take you seriously?

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