11.30.2014

"I wish someone had told me you don't take checks!"

As I was checking a customer out at Old Navy today, she pulled out her checkbook and said, "I'm going to write a check."

Let me stop you right there. We don't actually accept checks anymore. (Hallelujah.)

So I answered, "Oh, I'm so sorry, we actually don't take checks!"

Flustered and already angry, she replied, "What? Really? Since when?!"

I replied, "Yeah, it's been about a year or so."

And she answered — seriously — "Well geez, I wish someone had told me!"

Okay. Okay. Here's the thing. Pretty much nobody uses checks anymore. Just as an example, I've only had two people total try to write a check to pay for their purchase in the past year.

People who write checks are such a small, tiny, seriously barely-existent minority that it would be absolutely ridiculous to enact any kind of communication campaign to let them know we won't be taking checks anymore.

Like seriously, what do you want us to do? Let's look at some options.

Should we send out a direct mail campaign? And I'm sure it wouldn't be good enough to just have the information included in a normal advertisement-type mailer because you might not read the whole thing. So maybe it should just be like, "PSA: We're not going to be taking personal checks anymore!"

Should we send everyone an email? But if you exclusively use checks you might not use email either. And we certainly can't be sure that you're on our email list. So maybe we should send out an email to every email address in the country.

Should we personally call each person who's used a check to pay for a transaction at Old Navy in the past, say, five years? I wonder if we even keep that information. I kind of doubt it. Maybe we should call every phone number in the United States and tell them our new policy.

Should we have tacky "no personal checks" signs posted? Where would you suggest we post them? I presume the register wouldn't have worked, right? Because that's where you found out about the policy anyway, and you didn't think I told you soon enough. So maybe we should have them posted on the front doors. Maybe it should be one big sign that's the size of the door so you don't miss it.

Should we have someone stationed at the door as you walk in to tell you what forms of payment we do and don't accept? When does the statute of limitations run out on this? Because if the policy went into effect more than a year ago, maybe we should do this for two years after the policy change. Or maybe three? Three sounds safe.

11.09.2014

Job Hunting Week, day seven: Not lowering your standards

Welcome to Job Hunting Week. Looking for a job is my whole life at the moment, and looking for a job is so not fun. None of the content of this week will be revolutionary or even anything you haven’t thought of yourself, but I want to get it all out there in the open. Let’s commiserate together about the worst parts of job searching and what makes it so truly awful.

Day seven: Not lowering your standards


Look, there are some jobs that are just asking for ridiculous things. I've showcased some examples of these in my Craigslist blog posts.
An actual email I actually received


I'm not going to supply my own computer when the job isn't based out of my home. Just no.


I'm not going to record video answers for a freaking video interview. What even is that?


I'm not going to participate in a group interview because I'm not sixteen and applying for my first retail job.


I'm not going to pay to take a training program to do a job I can already do. I'm also not going to complete any unpaid training hours. I'm not an idiot.


I'm not going to be a telemarketer. Cold calling people to ask for donations or try to sell something is possibly the worst non-hard-labor job I can think of, though it would be excellent for the blog.


I’m not going to be a design assistant “with some administrative duties” because again, I’m not an idiot. I know that really just means an administrative assistant who also needs to know how to use Photoshop.


I’m not going to do free work for you as a “tryout.” That is shady.

I’m also not going to do a “contract-to-full-time” job, because I’m trying to get health benefits here, okay?

11.08.2014

Job Hunting Week, day six: Lowering your standards

Welcome to Job Hunting Week. Looking for a job is my whole life at the moment, and looking for a job is so not fun. None of the content of this week will be revolutionary or even anything you haven’t thought of yourself, but I want to get it all out there in the open. Let’s commiserate together about the worst parts of job searching and what makes it so truly awful.

Day six: Lowering your standards


Job hunting for an extended period of time, especially when you don’t currently have a full-time job to rest on, is really discouraging because there’s a balance you have to strike. When you’re searching while you do have a full-time-with-benefits job, you can be really picky and only apply to things you think you would absolutely love. But when you really need a job like right now, you can't be quite as picky.


Here's the problem, though: Do you want to take a job you're going to hate just to have one? You'll just end up job searching right away anyway, so is that even better?


So when you first get let go, you only apply to great jobs you think you'll love. And then the rest of your job search consists of renegotiating your standards over and over and over.


What happens is you end up talking yourself into jobs you already know aren't good for you. If you stare at a job description long enough, you'll see something you like in it. Sometimes that can be enough to convince yourself it wouldn't be that bad.


The worst thing about compromising is that by taking a job you know you won't love -- or even like -- you're just delaying the inevitable. You'll eventually want a job more in line with your experience or education, and if you take something now you might not be able to switch very fast when the right opportunity does come along. At the very least, it's hard to take time off for interviews right when you start a job, or you may not want to look like a job hopper, which might make you want to stay even longer just for show.

It's a daily struggle. I recently started including customer service positions in my search. I'm trying to be Kelly from The Office, okay?



11.07.2014

Job Hunting Week, day five: Relaxing is not an option.

Welcome to Job Hunting Week. Looking for a job is my whole life at the moment, and looking for a job is so not fun. None of the content of this week will be revolutionary or even anything you haven’t thought of yourself, but I want to get it all out there in the open. Let’s commiserate together about the worst parts of job searching and what makes it so truly awful.

Day five: Relaxing is not an option.


I absolutely hate job hunting because it takes all my time.


It's a long list. This is not the full list.
I have a list of about 20 sites (and growing) that I check every day for jobs. It takes quite awhile, and if I miss a day for any reason, it takes about twice as long the next day. On top of that, I feel like I should be finding new sites to check and checking the website of pretty much every company that’s based in LA every day.


Because of this, I basically end up looking for jobs every time I’m at home and have my computer open. It’s exhausting! I’m already working about 35 hours a week at Old Navy and about 20 hours a week freelancing. But if I spend any time at home not either freelancing (or streaming) or looking for a job, I feel like I’m wasting my time. I’ve even felt guilty taking the time I needed to write these blog posts this week.


There are lots of reasons why I feel I have to be so vigilant about searching daily. First of all, you have to see a posting right away or you might miss out. The last interview I had was for a job that was posted on Oct. 20. I applied on Oct. 22 and got a call that day, then an interview the next day. (Yes, the interview was on my birthday. I didn’t get the job, but thanks for asking.) The interviews were only held on Oct. 23 and 24. If I hadn’t seen that job posting until the next day, I wouldn’t have gotten an interview. (Which obviously wouldn't have mattered since I didn't get it, but whatever.)


My sister sent me a job listing at a company she has some connections with and she emailed them on a Friday to recommend me and said I would be applying over the weekend. I applied that night, but the listing actually expired while I was in the online application, so when I hit submit, it gave me an error message. There hadn’t been an expiration date anywhere on the job description. And I had spent so much time on it because I was writing a whole new cover letter. Like, sorry for trying hard?

Basically, I would be super upset if that happened again, especially with a job I really wanted or really thought I was perfect for, which is why I’m looking for jobs pretty much every minute of every day.

11.06.2014

Job Hunting Week, day four: The inherent lack of honesty

Welcome to Job Hunting Week. Looking for a job is my whole life at the moment, and looking for a job is so not fun. None of the content of this week will be revolutionary or even anything you haven’t thought of yourself, but I want to get it all out there in the open. Let’s commiserate together about the worst parts of job searching and what makes it so truly awful.


Day four: The inherent lack of honesty


Matt and I watched The Shining the other day as part of our October horror movie month.


"They'll love it!"
At the beginning of the movie, Jack has an interview with the manager of the hotel. When the manager asks how Jack thinks his wife and child will enjoy being alone and isolated from the entire world in a strange hotel that was the backdrop for a brutal murder for about six months this winter, he pauses, then says, “They’ll love it!”


Obviously, he pauses because he knows they’re going to hate it and he’s starting to have some misgivings about the whole thing.


But he can’t say that, because it’s a job interview.


Some people — potential employers and job seekers alike — are actively and unnecessarily dishonest in the job search process. Those people, with their job postings that completely misrepresent the job and their resumes with outrageous claims and fake degrees, are not what I’m talking about today.


It's the smaller lies that everyone tells. Job hunting involves an inherent lack of honesty. It’s just how it is, and I absolutely hate it.


When you’re talking with a potential employer, you can’t be completely honest. You have to be excited about every aspect of the job, no matter what. If they throw you a curveball during the interview, you can’t react negatively in any way. You have to nod and say it sounds great.


If you voice any trepidation about the job or don’t seem enthusiastic about any single aspect, or if you don’t have the experience they want, even if it’s just for one tiny part of the job, you’re not going to get it.


Employers are not interested in expending the time, effort or resources to train you on the job. Even if you only need training or a refresher on something that’s only relevant to 5 percent of the position, they see that as a negative.


So in order to get around that, you have to fib a little. You’ll have to do a little bit of administrative work in addition to the design part? Sure! That’s not a problem at all! It’ll be fun, even!


On the other hand, employers tell little fibs too. They skate over the parts of the job that are going to be least appealing and accentuate the parts they know you'll like most. And they absolutely don't tell you if the company in general is bad. You have to want the job too, remember, so they want to make it as attractive to you as they can.

It’s that whole ‘fake it til you make it’ thing, on both sides, and it’s awful and I hate it. I just want to be real with you and still get the job. And it would be cool if you would be real with me too.

11.05.2014

Job Hunting Week, day three: Stressing about the timeline

Welcome to Job Hunting Week. Looking for a job is my whole life at the moment, and looking for a job is so not fun. None of the content of this week will be revolutionary or even anything you haven’t thought of yourself, but I want to get it all out there in the open. Let’s commiserate together about the worst parts of job searching and what makes it so truly awful.

Day three: Stressing about the timeline


When you talk with recruiters and, most importantly, when you interview, you’ll generally establish some sort of timeline for when they’re expecting to have a decision made.
It's like it's all I do.


Some interviewers aren’t proactive about establishing this, so it’s good to ask questions toward the end of the interview such as, “When are you looking to have this position filled?” or “What sort of timeline can I expect for hearing back about this role?”


Then you sit back and wait until the day they said you should hear by.


Here is what that looks like:


You have an interview on, let’s say, Friday. You’re supposed to hear by the next Friday. So of course, you try to convince yourself you’ll hear earlier than that. Monday passes and though you wish you would hear that day, you aren’t surprised when you don’t.


Tuesday and Wednesday, you start to feel the agony. Why haven’t they made a decision yet? They said all their interviews were last week. Why’s it taking so long to make a decision?


Of course, what’s taking so long is they all have jobs, and their hiring responsibilities are a teensy, tiny, minute part of them. Three days after the interviews, they may not have even had time to review their notes or meet with the other people who have a say in hiring.


So then Thursday and Friday roll around and you still haven’t heard. Midday Friday, you start to think you should maybe send a follow-up email soon.


Friday ends and, obviously, you won’t have heard anything yet. So then you play the follow-up game.


The follow-up game is where you have to decide when it would be appropriate to send a follow-up email or make a follow-up phone call.


That job you were supposed to hear about on Friday but didn’t? Over the weekend, it’s obviously all you can think about, so much so that you want to send an email on Sunday night. You convince yourself not to, of course.


Then Monday morning rolls around. Okay. You were supposed to hear by Friday. It’s the next business day. So today should be a fine time to email, right? But maybe you should give them today to reach out and then email them first thing tomorrow. Or maybe you should call, because they called you to schedule the interview, so maybe they prefer communicating by phone.


It’s a struggle. And when I'm waiting to hear, I'm thinking, why can’t hiring managers just do what they say they’re going to do? I’m not making the timeline for you. I’m asking you about a timeline and you’re choosing it. It seems like the responsible thing to do would be to make that decision within the time frame you established, or just quote a much longer time than you expect it to take. 

Of course, the reality is that life happens and things often come up that affect the hiring timeline and I can't expect a hiring manager to fill me in on every development.


I think the most important thing here is to remember that rushing things along isn’t going to make a difference. If you’re going to get the job, you’re going to get it. If not, you’re not. So while following up is important in order to keep yourself top-of-mind for the hiring manager, being too aggressive or too impatient also isn’t a good thing.

Basically, everything you do is wrong.
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