Things I Know 63 of 365: They have to get the jobs first

Be willing to do the job passionately, even if you’re not passionate about the job.

– My mom

When I was 16, I headed out to look for my first job. A word nerd from way back, I was intent on a job selling books. I was probably not the only 16-year-old jobseeker managers had met. Others had probably warn khakis and a shirt and tie when applying as I did. What I’d imagine set me apart from other mid-adolescent applicants was my inclusion of a resumé with my application forms. Even if resumés were standard faire, I’m willing to wager my 24 lb 100% cotton watermarked paper set me apart.

It took me a few years to realize everyone else’s mom hadn’t made a fuss over the weight of their resumé paper as they applied for their first jobs. The realization that everyone else hadn’t been sat down at the kitchen table to write their personal mission statements when they were 14 took me awhile as well.

My mom has been in human resources management for almost as long as I’ve been alive.

While she’s been in Philly visiting this week, I’ve asked her to talk to my kids about jobs and applying and online privacy and the like.

It’s reminded me just how tremendously wise she is.

It’s illuminated for me just how tremendously little my kids know about applying for jobs.

As we spend billions of dollars and countless hours arguing about the best way to prepare our students for the “jobs of the future,” we’ve fallen down on the job of preparing them to get their feet in the door.

“What can’t potential employers take into consideration when considering you for a job?”

Silence and some mumbling that they didn’t know there was anything they couldn’t consider.

A small collective gasp was audible when my mom admitted she didn’t research applicants’ Facebook pages or other online profiles when considering them for employment. Her reasoning that people should be able to decide what they share of their personal lives when applying was more thoughtful, measured and reasonable than the warnings they’d seen around the Internet and heard from teachers.

They had questions too.

“How do I answer when they ask me what my weaknesses are?”

The news that explaining they “just can’t stop until something is perfect” was a bit cliché and that they should instead explain a weakness they’ve taken steps to address was scribbled into brains and notebooks alike.

“The resumé isn’t to get you the job,” my mom explained, “The resumé is to get you the interview. Use the interview to get the job. And, send a thank you note.”

None of this is earthshaking news to anyone who’s been through the job search process a few times. They are the tricks of the trade picked up along the way.

Still, I hadn’t thought to bring them up with my kids. As much as I’ve been worried about preparing them for doing the jobs they’ll have in the future, I know I’ve ignored or forgotten to have any conversations with them about how to get those jobs.

I doubt I’m alone in that.

Thank goodness for my mom.


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