As a former hiring manager with 25 years of hiring experience I would like to offer a few insights to today’s job seekers. We are facing difficult times with limited corporate vision. Everyone is afraid to hire. There are more applicants for every open job than at any time in recent memory. Everyone needs to adjust their expectations. Here are a few thoughts to consider.
First of all, every person who works at any kind of job contributes to our society. The job would not exist if it did not contribute to filling some need of the buying public. There are jobs available that many consider below their educational or experience level. As a hiring manager I would give additional consideration to someone that would do any kind of work than no work at all.
Second, opportunities come to known quantities. These economic times will improve eventually. That will create opportunities for current employees. Their skills will be known and a “bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” to a hiring manager. Don’t expect to come to an interview and leapfrog those that have done the hard, lower level work. It is their jobs you will be applying for when your bank account runs dry. It will be a long time before job seekers gain the upper hand, so don’t expect the economy to pick up and come to your rescue.
Third, hiring managers don’t like an attitude. If you consider certain kinds of work beneath you then you consider the people that do that kind of work beneath you. When I was working my way through college in the early seventies I took a year off and worked in a lumber yard to save money. I was a kid from a middle class background who thought he was pretty smart. After spending a year loading lumber and insulation on trucks and getting to know the folks that did it for a living, and always would, I found that these people were highly intelligent, informed and much more aware of the world around me than I was. That experience was worth more than my degree in Economics. It was my story in the interview process that got me the offers in the middle of a recession, not my degree. I wasn’t a college kid that knew everything but an applicant that understood that his real education was about to start.
In my first sales job I did very well. I was getting a little full of myself and my manager, Herman, helped me adjust my attitude. Herman was a former light heavyweight boxing champion in the Army. I was relishing in my importance as the top sales person when he walked over to me with a glass of water. He told me to put my finger in the water. I did. He told me to pull my finger out of the water. I did. He told me to look at the impression I made. Obviously, there was no impression. He then told me, “We were here before you got here and will be here after you leave”. He took his water and walked away leaving me to ponder my place in the world.
I was in the building materials business in 1980 when President Carter pushed the interest rates up to 19%. I lost my Fortune 100 job. I had a new house, new car and a new baby. Needless to say, I was motivated. I took a job with a small publisher for less money than I was making. I ended my career with a national company 26 years later and had a blast doing it without ever changing companies.
Fourth, you will never know where your career will take you. I ended up in the “Shopper” business as a Regional VP for over 20 years.
I retired a few years ago and am very fortunate that I worked for the company I did. Still, I will be looking for a job soon. There aren’t a lot of jobs out there that would replace my former income and I don’t expect that I would be the first choice for those that would because my line of work has been clobbered by the Internet. If someone hires me it will most likely be at a much lower level position. At least, if they offer me the job, they will hire someone who will have the right attitude and thought process so that they can learn the job and fit into the culture of the organization. Most importantly they will hire someone who wants to become a contributor to the success of the organization. As a former hiring manager, that is the attitude I would want to hire.