Looking for a job? Confused by the pitchy newspaper ads and bizarro online exams? Here are some observations and tips I’ve compiled to help you better understand what you’re facing. Good luck!
1. Beware of bombastic newspaper ads: Ever seen an ad in the employment classifieds that shouts ‘MANAGERS WANTED!!! NEED 25 HIGHLY AGRESSIVE TAKE CHARGE PEOPLE!! 50K+ A YEAR!! START NOW!! NO EXPERIENCE NECCESARY, WILL TRAIN!!’ What this ad is telling you is that they’re looking for pushy jerks. These jobs are usually door to door solicitations of art, food or jewelry, or selling various stuff cold-calling in an outbound call center. These ads are designed to appeal to the 18-28 age group with little or no college education who fancy themselves the take charge, in your face type. This helps if you are sticking your foot in someone’s door, or accosting them on the phone all day long. Of course the only guy making 50K+ a year is the owner. Maybe.
2. Beware of ads that linger: Be careful of this one. If you scout the employment section, and see a company that is always hiring and running ads week after week, it is almost without doubt a horrible place to work. Call centers and most sales companies are always hiring, because they are always firing. These jobs are high pressure by design, and an 80-90 percent employee turnover rate every 6 months is not uncommon. Good employers usually run an ad for a week or so until the position(s) are filled, and then dissappear. That’s why you have to check the ads every single day for weeks at a time. Good job offers pop up like mushrooms on a warm summer night, and disappear just as fast.
3. What’s up with those online quizzes? Ever apply for a job at a big retailer like those Mega Depot, Home Office or CompuMegalith stores? If you walk in the stores with a resume, the first thing they have you do is sit down and take an online test. The main purpose of this test is to determine if you have the personality type to deal with short tempered people in a retail setting all day long and not pop your cork and floor someone for asking you where the turkey gravy is. Fair enough, and this is wise and prudent on the companies part.
The other sections deal with background information and company policies. With personal information available online to employers like never before, the company can scan a prospective employees background for criminal offenses, what municipalities taxes were paid in, credit rating, and if any worker’s comp claims were filed, so make sure not to leave anything out. If you choose to omit an employer you quit or were fired from, there is a moderate chance they can spot online that you paid taxes in a certain city during a period you said you were unemployed, or worked somewhere else, so be forthright. In most cases, a background check only entails criminal offenses, but the employer can dig deeper, depending on the financial sensitivity of the position applied for. They will probably also have you agree to take a drug test, and sign an “employment at will” form, which means they can fire you at any time for any reason, and you can’t sue them.
Why all the fuss?
With today’s ever shrinking profit margins and rampant fraudulent litigation, the blame for poor dollar performance is being placed square on the shoulders of the employee. Thus employers use these online tools to weed out potential trouble before it occurs, and pre-employment contracts give them the legal instruments to fire your dime-a-dozen, loser retail butt without fear of recourse, all for 8 bucks an hour or so, another great reason to finish college.
4. Beware of employment agency bait and switch ads: If you look online or in the newspaper, you will often see handsome job offers in a variety of disciplines that all have the same phone number on them, such as ‘Truck driver, major fortune 500 company, 50K+ a year’ right above ‘Lab technician, no experience required, 35K plus benefits, will train’. Upon calling, you’ll find yourself talking to a representative at an employment agency. This can be good or bad, depending on whether if it pans out to be true or not. Remember that employment agencies are for-profit businesses, so while they are advertising jobs, they are also selling their product at the same time.
In most cases, the attractive job offers they run in the ads will be filled, but they still will try to get you to come down and enroll for job placements in other areas, often at a much lower wage. Beware of contracts. Read the fine print and ask questions. Employment agencies often have you sign a failure of service contract that allows them to collect an often large sum of money, 500+ dollars, if you default on the job they assign to you in a 6-8 week period or so, which means that if your car breaks down, and you miss a few days and get canned, you’re not only out a job, you’re also out the 500+ bucks. Youch.
5. Another reason to H8 Microsoft: If you go to an almost any employment agency today, and apply for a clerical or office job, they will invariably test you on the primary components of MS Office, notably Word, Access, FrontPage, Power Point and Outlook. If you can’t pass a proficiency quiz in their office on these MS products, they probably will not hire you,or even remotely consider hiring you. What this means is that Bill Gates has the working public by the throat, and he knows it. I’m not sure if MS offers kickbacks to employers and employment agencies for pursuing this pro-MS product policy, but I’d bet they do. Ironically, many offices don’t use MS products for their operating needs, and use IBM, Apple, or some less expensive, lesser known software packs instead, such as AS400, Quark, Mail-order Wizard, etc.