This is the true story of how a young man that I know personally performed on the job hunt. Hopefully Frank’s behavior can serve as a cautionary tale of how not to squander potential opportunities.

Frank went to university for a couple of years and then dropped out. He didn’t have defined career goals and he felt school wasn’t getting him anywhere. He took some time off, and then registered for a different program at a different university and completed the degree. Frank lives at home just outside of a major city, a commutable distance.

One day Frank made a call to his uncle who lives in the city and works at a company that could potentially hire someone with Frank’s education. Frank asked his uncle if he could get him a job. The uncle said that he couldn’t get him a job outright, but that he would see if he could arrange an information interview with some of his colleagues who could give him some advice on getting started.

Frank actually asked his uncle to drive out to his suburb to pick him up, but they settled on getting a ride from the bus station.

Frank’s astute aunt asked to see his resume and cover letter to ensure they were up to date, error free and sold him in the best possible light. Frank said that in his industry, I.T., people didn’t send cover letters. [I’ve yet to find a source that can confirm Frank’s opinion on this.] The resume was abysmal. Frank was job hunting without the proper tools in his toolkit.

Frank arrived at his aunt and uncle’s the night before the meeting to stay over in the city. He asked no questions, had not done any preparation for the arranged meetings, exhibited no gratitude, and displayed no enthusiasm or interest in who he was to meet with.

The next morning Frank came to breakfast in exactly the same baggy pants, sloppy, wrinkled shirt and unlaced sneakers he wore the night before, pulled out of a backpack. His appalled relatives quickly redressed him in borrowed clothes.

Uncle quizzed Frank on the way into the office. Frank was ill prepared. He didn’t have a pen or a pad of paper in which to take notes. He said that he thought he would take notes on his cell phone. In case you are confused by this behavior, don’t type in an interview: jot notes on paper. You have to be able to make eye contact most of the time and you can’t do this if you are hiding behind a laptop. You should never pull out a phone.

Frank didn’t know how to answer the simplest questions about his accomplishments and skill set and had no idea what he brought to a potential employer.

His uncle told Frank to:

  • Leave the back pack in the car
  • Shake hands with the interviewers
  • Make eye contact
  • Take notes
  • Have questions ready to ask
  • Ask for a business card before exiting the meeting
  • Send a Thank You card or letter within 36 hours of the meeting
  • Be sure to follow up a week or two later

Frank had not taken advantage of the university’s career centre or any of the programs offered by the provincial government to teach him how to conduct a professional job search.

Without a doubt, for most young people, it is difficult to figure out what course of study to pursue. It is also sadly challenging to find and get your first job.

It is sad that people spend more time planning their vacations than they do their careers, or for that matter, even their job searches. Careers do not land in peoples’ laps as a rule. If you are job searching and educating yourself about the world of work less than seven hours a day, you are hurting your chances of succeeding.

Sit down, make a plan, read a book, use Workopolis daily, talk to working grads – you have to be better than the norm. To land your first job you have to go the extra mile, show energy, enthusiasm and a desire to excel.

Frank on the other hand seemed to go out of his way to give the impression that if hired, he would drag his feet reluctantly into work each day. And nobody wants to hire that.

Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking How to Build Relationships That Count, How
to Get a Job and Keep It

Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The
Mastermind Group