It's been nearly six years since I've had to go through the job-hunting and interview process and hope I don't have to do so again for a very long time (if ever again). On Backchannel, Deborah Branscum examines why the way we typically hire for jobs is all wrong.
I have always been very concerned with becoming a respectable job candidate, even before I really knew what I wanted to do. I’d thought the goal was to master information that would set me up for a successful career. I took school seriously and got good grades, and I believed that doing well on tests was a good indication that I was doing well, that I would be successful in life.
In many respects, the skills that we learn in school are not very good preparation for work. Success at work often doesn't involve being obedient, following instructions, or even necessarily completing assignments on time (all the abilities that school achievement is built on). There is one way, though, in which being in school and being in the working world are quite similar: having to collaborate and work closely with different, sometimes non-compatible, personalities.
Dear Money Talks, I work in a small department of a large university. I started there as a graduate assistant, and over three years I have worked my way up to a full-time staff member in a position I essentially created for myself. I really like the job and my coworkers, I get great benefits, and I am not eager to leave this workplace except for, of course, the salary.
A few years out of college, my younger brother has been unable to find a full-time job working in early childhood education, so he has cobbled together employment with three part-time jobs: working with pre-schoolers at a private school, doing administrative work at a non-profit, and retail work. He lives at home, and the majority of his money goes to car payments, health care and student loans. "I'm trying to save, but it's hard," he told me. He was mostly at his a-few-dollars-above-minimum-wage retail job during the holidays, working early shifts in the stock room ("people buy a lot of stuff, and then they return a lot of stuff," he explained). I bought him dinner and we talked about his career prospects. "I've been looking for that one job, but it hasn't appeared yet," he said. "I'm mostly just tired."
Some stores like Wal-Mart are not content to wait until Black Friday to lure shoppers in with deals and stay open on Thanksgiving day itself. Others, though, are taking a stand.
I am an inveterate comparison shopper. The internet is a vast trove of unfiltered community, each site brimming with hundreds of thousands of desk jockey and stay-at-home moms, eager to share their opinion with anyone who will listen. I consult product reviews before I do pretty much anything, getting lost in the mire of Amazon reviews of cat litter, or customer reviews of the boots I’m about to buy. My search for a dutch oven that doesn’t cost an arm and leg is an ongoing, two-year quest, enhanced by constant consumer research. I like my decisions helped along with the opinions of others. I apply this same principle to the job search. That is why I have embraced the glory of Glassdoor.com.
I can't quite put my finger on when I decided I wanted to learn how to make cheese. The idea of cheesemaking intrigued me, and as I was searching for farm work, I would get excited at any mention of cows, goats, milk, or cheese. It might have stemmed from my initial experience of farming as one task, done for eight straight hours. Cheesemaking/dairy farming seemed like varied, interesting work.
If you are also an adult who actually didn't turn out to be a veterinarian/astronaut/marine biologist the way you dreamed about when were a kid, well join the club. Most people -- 94% according to a longitudinal study published in the journal Social Forces -- do not end up in the job they wanted when they were eight years old. This is interesting:
Before I started working at Whole Foods last December, I was only an occasional shopper. I went in when I needed something specific, like broccoli rabe or gluten-free cupcakes for a friend’s party. I never wanted to buy more than a few items because I didn’t trust myself. Everything in the store seems like such a good idea—organic, all-natural, so good for you—that I kept myself confined to only the essentials out of financial necessity. My secret fear was that I would go into a shopping trance and wake up in the parking lot with half my bank account missing on a week’s worth of groceries. Like many secret fears, it was based on letting out the worst side of myself.