Month: March 2019

Double Vision

When looking for work, it’s important to read in-between the lines of any job ad, and be sensitive to cues that serve as warning signs not to apply there.

Before I apply for any position, I take the time to examine not only the written details about the opening, but also other things not mentioned but still noticed.

I came across the following post in the KitchenerWorks Facebook group, used by jobseekers like myself as part of their search for work:

“Since it seems impossible to get people in for interviews or even find people who want to work, I’ll try social media out.” 

As you’ve noticed in the ad, the place is in Cambridge. Where I live right now, that’s a two hour bus route just to get there — on a good day. Even by car (if I had one), it’s still a lengthy commute one way. Imagine what it would be like as a round-trip.

Right off the top, that eliminates the night shift hours mentioned.

There’s also some heavy physical work in the description. It’s not explicitly mentioned but general labour, saw-cutting, and receiving require physical fitness and endurance. Is that something I can do in my mid-fifties? Possibly. Sixties? Not so sure.

Then we get to the things NOT mentioned where your gut instinct can be as useful as Spider-Man’s Spidey Sense. Read the line below before continuing on in this post:

” If you don’t have experience in the position, we will do the proper training.”

At first glance, that sounds pretty good. I’ve previously ranted in this blog about credential creep and lack of on-the-job training doing away with entry-level positions. That opinion has not changed. There should be more entry-level jobs for people who have no work-experience but want to start somewhere.

What has also not changed is my belief that not every job can be learned on-the-fly.

Some jobs require training and education in order to hold a position in that field. I.T. work, my past career, is one of them. So is handling machinery that could injure you if you’re not careful: hydrostatic testing, sandblasting, computer numerical control and lathe work, and saw cutting.

These things should never be learned on the job. You go to a trade school or an apprenticeship program to get formal training, and on successful completion are given a document that certifies you to be competent and not a danger to anyone.

I would never have faith working with another programmer in a large business who learned how to code for the first time from a “Teach Yourself ABAP/4 in 24 hours” book. In the case of dangerous machinery operation, I wouldn’t feel safe working with anyone without certified training. Maybe that’s paranoia or overprotectiveness on my part, but it is my call to ensure my workplace safety needs are met.

The final point that prompted me not to apply is the most telling of all, found in the first quote near the top of the post. The comment that people who do not apply do not want to work. That is such a arrogant and inaccurate reason of the person’s failure to find a hire, and also an unfair characterization of people who are looking for work. It gives me the impression that person is easily upset and frustrated.

I would love to tell this person three things about job seekers that are accurate and fair:

  1. Job seekers want to work. That’s why I and other job seekers get up early every morning and apply for positions.
  2. Job seekers don’t want to waste their time applying for work they are not qualified to do. We don’t want to just get hired, we want to stay hired for as long as possible.
  3. Job seekers also don’t want to waste the time of the interviewer. The interviewer does not want to sift through a sea of unqualified applicants in order to find someone who is qualified. They have limited time to find a fit and usually have to do this in addition to their regular work-day duties. Consider it a courtesy of sorts, if at least not common sense, when some of us decide not to apply.

Thanks for reading!


The Devil Is In The Details

Image from Jacobs Media Strategies blog, original artist of cartoon unknown. If anyone knows, please contact me and I’ll attribute the correct credits.

The expression I’ve used in this title post is not often uttered, so most people are probably unfamiliar with it. Simply put, it means any plan, action, or situation that seems sound must be carefully examined, because even the smallest detail can end up causing a major problem.

Putting attention in the details of a job opening ad at a business is also important. Granted, leaving them out might not result in major problems per the expression, but it can cause major misunderstandings.

Consider the following text from an advertisement I read in the Facebook group, “Kitchener Works”:

[REDACTED] is looking for an outgoing and personable new employee for the season. Must be available anytime. Perfect for recent high school grad taking a year off. If interested send me your resume at [REDACTED].

What’s my issue about this ad?

It doesn’t list the job title of the position or even a description about the position. The one thing that really sticks with me is the expression, “must be available anytime”.

What exactly does that mean? Will the person work 8 hours, 10 hours or longer? How many days a week: five or seven? Is it a morning-centric position or an evening one? How about stat holidays like Canada Day, Labour Day, or Victoria Day?

How about if the person is already an employee of that company and currently on vacation? Does “must be available anytime” mean that employee can be recalled back to work, well, any time? I can tell you from experience in the I.T. field how much of a pissoff it can be when you’re called back to work while on vacation. That often happens in that line of work.

“Anytime” can mean anything, but for different people, it could also mean a different thing. I replied to the OP of the ad to ask what was meant by “anytime”. His response was, “Yes as in lunches, dinners, weekends, some late nights.”

While the response still doesn’t mention what days and hours the candidate is expected to work if hired, it’s not as vague as it was before. We went from “anytime” to “lunches, dinners, weekends and some late nights”. So much clearer!

Imagine going to an interview for this position without this clarity and finding out you cannot work late nights because you don’t drive and use transit instead (as in my case). Not only did you just waste your time applying for a job you were never qualified for, you also wasted the employer’s time too.

Still, it is the business owner’s or hiring manager’s job to put as much information as they can in any hiring ad. There is no excuse for leaving out details just to save time. I’ve come across ads that look something like this:

Looking for Dishwasher, available to work all hours, please inquire within.

and discover after following up the position also requires food preparation. You know, cooking, something I can’t do. I can wash dishes without a problem, yet that omitted detail means I’m not qualified for the position.

That “dishwasher” example could have been presented better, perhaps like this:

We’re looking for Kitchen Support Staff willing to work shift hours between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays and sometimes Holidays. Duties are:

* Assisting in food handling and preparation. 
* Washing and drying dishes, either by hand or using a dishwasher
* Cleaning kitchen and dining areas during slow periods.
* Stockroom work (must be able to lift between 30 to 50 pounds on a continual basis)

A job title that accurately describes the open position. A clear and concise explanation of what is expected from the candidate if chosen, including the days and hours worked. Everything a job seeker needs to know before applying.

Heck, maybe I should freelance myself out as a professional ad poster.

Thanks for reading!