Job searching is serious stuff, especially when you're unemployed. OK, now that I've stated the obvious, I should add that there are times in a job search when people need to loosen up a bit and laugh.
Case in point: A recent post on The Onion, a leader in satire (also known as heavy sarcasm, also known as "this is not real") sparked outrage among many readers. The faux news stories on The Onion are so brilliantly written that people not familiar with the site often assume it's real news, and that’s what happened here.
The post carried this headline: "Report: Unemployment High Because People Keep Blowing Their Job Interviews." The upshot of this story? The federal government suggests that job seekers' poor interviewing skills — and not the economy — are preventing them from getting hired, as if the government, no matter which party controls the White House, would go out of its way to insult Americans.
Here are a couple of absurdities from the report:
- President Obama, who last week signed a law extending unemployment benefits, said the legislation would also address joblessness by creating a $1.2 billion program aimed at training Americans to use firm but approachable body language to make a great first impression.
- "This economy will not recover until job candidates learn how to put their best foot forward," said Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, warning that even a small increase in stuttering among applicants who are asked to describe their weaknesses could cause the entire labor market to collapse.
If that wasn't enough to tell everyone they were reading satire, a look at other nearby headlines, such as the blatantly outrageous “NASCAR To Abandon Racing Portion Of Business, Concentrate On Ads” should have. But the post sparked as many rants as laughs on the web. (Maybe that's why The Onion didn't have a "Comments" thread at the end of the post.)
Now for the serious part: The post did highlight a few things job seekers do to undermine their chances. Among them:
- Not asking questions in the interview. If you don't ask questions, you may be sending a signal that you aren’t all that interested in the job or company.
- Not limiting their cover letters to one page. Three or four short paragraphs should cover it, then let your resume take over from there.
- Not making their resumes visually appealing. No hiring manager is going to be excited to see a resume that’s one solid block of dense text without bullet points, boldface type, or anything to make it easier to read.
Your job search is serious, but don't lose your sense of humor as you look for something better — seriously!
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