Congratulations, You’re Perfectly Adequate. When Can You Start?

Posted on September 17, 2009. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , , , |

This entry is the third in our series by Sara, a recent college graduate who has been facing the daunting task of finding her first “real” job. The other two posts are “The Plight of the Recent College Grad” and “Interviewing: Practice Really Does Make Perfect.”

In this post, she talks about receiving her first official offer and discovering that sometimes even when you do get an offer, it isn’t exactly what you were hoping for.

Here’s Sara:

Well, it finally happened; after a strange interview and an extended round of phone tag I came home to a voicemail that offered me a position with a local web-marketing company. It was a full-time job in my field where I would spend most of my time writing and corresponding with other web marketers—what a great opportunity to network and earn money simultaneously!

Too bad I turned it down.

Sure, it was nice to see that someone, somewhere thought I would be an asset for his organization, but too many factors sent up red flags and made me too uncomfortable to accept the position.

First flag, a company that built up clients’ web presence, yet it did not have a website. I spent a half hour before the interview trying to do research on the company, and the only thing I found was a logo. At the interview, I asked why the company didn’t have a site and was told that the company did not need to advertise. It has all the clients it needs and has actually gone so far as to try to avoid picking up a new client. Clearly, the company was not growing—if it was, no one knew about it—which brings me to red-flag number two.

One of the first things out of my interviewer’s mouth was that he “wasn’t looking for a shining star. I don’t want someone to go above and beyond the call of duty, I just want someone to do the work.” Well, if that’s the case, I guess all of my past accomplishments that I’ve spent my life working to achieve mean nothing, so we can just get down to whether I can handle mediocrity.

Another major issue I had with the position was the fact that I had no room to grow. I would be stuck in a tiny office, performing the same task for eight hours a day, with no hope of advancement. What was this job going to do for me other than add another bullet to my resume?

The more I thought about the position, the more I realized that it was a step backward. If I were still in school, then it would have been the perfect position for me to earn money and some basic marketing experience, but it definitely was not the way to start a career. So, instead of settling, I chose to count my blessings, trust that I was better than “perfectly adequate,” and hope that the right position will come along soon.

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Interviewing: Practice Really Does Make Perfect

Posted on July 29, 2009. Filed under: Interviews, Job Search Tips | Tags: , , , , , , |

A few weeks ago, I introduced Sara, a recent college graduate, whom I asked to share her job search experience. I have now asked her to follow up on that article. Here is where Sara is today:

Well, I did it, I went on my first, real job interview! It was for a position I knew I was qualified for with a non-profit organization whose cause I was more than familiar with. I actually had given up hope on hearing anything, because they didn’t call me until more than a month after I applied. Imagine my surprise!

The surprise/euphoria quickly turned to dread when I realized I had never been on a “real” interview before. In the days before the big event, I spent much of my spare time reading every “this is how you interview for a job” article I could find. Most of them focused on how important it is to avoid the color red on an interview—apparently it’s a “power color”—or how wearing perfume is the equivalent of the kiss of death. I practiced answering all of the “staple” questions interviewers always ask according to these same articles, and I scoured the organization’s web site, trying to memorize everything it had done in the last six months. Everything I could think of to prepare for this thing, I did. And I think that is what tripped me up.

When the time came to sit down and actually begin the interview, I forgot everything. I was so focused on being the “promising young professional” laid out before me in all of those articles that told me what to wear, what to say, and how to act, that I couldn’t be myself. The interviewer asked me to tell him about myself, and that snappy, 30-second elevator speech I practiced for an hour the night before had flown out the window. All I could tell him were things he already knew, because all I could think of was all over the resume in front of him; I didn’t set myself apart.

Now, do I think the interview was a total disaster? No. But I do think it wasn’t my best work. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to show the interviewer my stellar, one-of-a-kind skills in a “pop quiz” of sorts rather than tell him about them, so all is not lost. Even if I’m not offered this position, I still gained some valuable insight into the art of interviewing. Although demeanor, appearance, and knowledge all are key parts of the process, the most important thing a person can do is try to relax and be genuine. After all, a genuine person goes much farther and is more unique any day than the every-day, job-searching, clone.

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