Good Advice for Applying for a Job

Hassan asks: I want to apply for a job. I’m too much interested. Can you help me?

That’s great Hassan! The only job I ever applied for was “Companion and Protector.” My job interview involved standing up in the little cage in the dog pound and trying to convince whoever walked by that I’d be the best friend they’d ever have. With the first few hundred people who walked past, I was really saying I’d try to be that. But when Handsome walked by, we both knew it was true.

But here’s something I don’t think I’ve ever said to anyone on this site before – Handsome did not buy me right away! We had this great connection, but he was afraid I’d be the wrong kind of dog for him, and left to go look at another pound. It wasn’t till a couple of mornings later that he came back to purchase me – and believe me, that was a terrifying day and a half! It ended great, but in the meantime… oh just too horrible to even remember.

The big difference between my asking for and getting the job of being Handsome’s Companion and Protector, and the jobs most humans apply for, is that I was hired for life, whereas the jobs you’re looking at tend to be far more temporary. So you have less to gain by getting hired than I did, and less to lose from not. That should mean you don’t need to worry nearly as much as I did.

So I’ve checked around with some humans (Handsome’s had lots of jobs, good and bad), and found out what the best lessons are about the search for employment. Here are a few:

1) Know the Job. Nothing irritates an employer more than interviewing someone who doesn’t know anything about the job or the workplace they’re applying for, and nothing makes that employer happier than that person having done their homework before. You don’t have to know everything about the place, but if you apply to a computer store that only sells IBMs, and you ask about Macs, you’re not going to impress the boss!

2) Know how to Dress! Handsome told me about going to an interview for a company once, where his girlfriend insisted he dress in his newest, nicest, coolest suit. He got there and it turned out they were hiring truck drivers! He still got the job, but he felt like a total buffoon! So, as part of that homework, make sure you know what the best clothes to wear are. First impressions matter (Just like in the pound)!

3) Ask Good Questions. Once you’ve done your homework about the place, what do you still not know? Do you know how much the job pays? Do you know what hours they want you to work? Do you know what skills they’re looking for? Do you know if you’ll be able to take a vacation? Do you know if they offer benefits? If you ask these things, it’ll show the employer that you’re a responsible forward thinker. That’s great!

4) Have a Good Clear Resume. Even if this is the first job you’ve ever applied for, have a good resume (or Curriculum Vitae, as it’s called in some other countries) that tells what you’re bringing to the job. What schools have you attended? Did you finish them? Did you win any awards or honors? What groups have you belonged to? Scouts or other activities? Charity Groups? Do you have special skills or talents? But of course, what looks best is if you have previous work experience. Whatever you list, make it clear, and easy to read. And of course, make sure you have your contact information on there! How crazy it would be if they wanted to hire you but didn’t know how to reach you! (Oh one other thing – don’t lie. If they ever find out, you’ll probably be fired at once!)

5) Be a Good “Companion and Protector!” Yes, just like me in the pound! When someone hires a new employee, they want two things most. They want someone who’ll do their job so well that they can relax and not worry about it. In other words, they want to feel Protected. But they want someone who will be an enjoyable Companion! They’ll look at you as someone they have to deal with – maybe even for forty hours a week or more. Are you surly, negative, lazy, distracted, bored, or uptight? They might hire someone with less qualification just because they’d rather spend their time with them. So be your best self.

6) Which leads to, last but not least: Trust the Journey! You say you’re “too much interested.” I disagree – you can’t be too excited, too interested. Unless… you don’t get the job. Which of course often happens. As I said above, Hundreds of people walked past my cage at the pound and didn’t pick me. It was scary and heartbreaking. But in the end, I got the fellow who was best for me. I absolutely know I’ve been happier with Handsome than I would have been with any of those other people. You see, in a funny way, they were all absolutely right not to pick me. They wanted a little lap dog, or a tough pit bull, or a purebred show dog, or… I don’t even know what. I wasn’t any of those things. They would have been unhappy with me, and I wouldn’t have liked that at all.

Similarly, Handsome has been rejected for jobs where they just wanted a different personality. They weren’t wrong; they just wanted something different. You are You, Hassan. And whatever your strengths are, they’re going to be right for some job. And while you think this job is perfect for you, maybe it’s not. Or maybe it is for now, and someday you’ll want something else. That’s all great! Mohandas Gandhi first trained to practice law in South Africa, which was an awfully strange step for one who would become one of the greatest spiritual leaders ever. Chuck Berry trained to be a hairdresser, and Elvis Presley to be a truck driver, before becoming two of the first great rock and roll stars.

The actor Al Pacino was once asked how he auditions for roles, and he answered, “I never audition. Auditions are just opportunities for me to go in and act.” Just like that, your job interview is just a chance for you to move forward toward the greatness you’ll find in your life. So do your best, show the best you’ve got, and Enjoy!

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