By: Joseph Bryant (Guest Blogger)
I was an employer at one time before the death of my children’s mother. I owned a business employing over 15 people over the years. Most of them stayed with me from inception until I shut the doors. I found mostly quality people and some, I had to fire. There were so many more that interviewed, that never had a chance.
Lately, I have been reading lots of posts about how to behave at an interview, what to put on a resume, and lots of stuff like that. I have always been of the belief that if you can’t find the ideal job, create it, so there really should not be gaps in your employment section unless you just watched TV all day long. I have never gone without work.
So today, I wanted to share some big pet peeves from an employer’s perspective before and during employment.
1. The interview should not be about you, it is about the employer and what you can do for them. The other day I had a twitter exchange that went like this:
THEM: “I’m prepping for an #interviewing workshop. What’s one piece of #advice you’d like me to share?”
ME: “interview is about what one can do for the company, not what the company can do for the person.”
THEM: “Actually an interview is just as much a potential employee asking questions to make sure it’s what he/she wants out of a company
THEM: “The key to a successful interview is that the company and the prospective employee feel it is an equal match for each other.”
ME: “I disagree, if potential employee did their research they would know if it was a good fit. It should happen before interview. If potential employee wants the job he/she needs to focus on showing employer why it is to the employers benefit to hire. I had 15+ in my company, if they told me what they wanted, I would have asked for them to pay me 4 training them.”
I can’t hammer this in enough. The person doing the interview does not care about you. Perhaps superficially they do or they may like to feel this altruistic care for the person, but in the end it is all about, “What can this person do for me or my company?” and “What is it going to cost me to get them to do it?” If you go in there making demands, you will not get hired…and if you do, start looking for another job because that employer did not have their business in mind when they hired you. You must SELL yourself to the employer. Give them a reason to take a chance on you.
Every time an employer hires someone, they are gambling that you will do a good job and help the company profit and grow. You must show them how you can help them grow, profit, and cut costs in the process. I have read lots of articles on how to do that lately, so I am not going to rehash that here. There really should not be a reason to ask about the firm so much, unless you haven’t done your research. And if you haven’t done the research, you don’t deserve the job. Don’t confuse what I am saying about asking questions though. If you are a bankruptcy paralegal and you ask a question like, “Do you use BestCase software?”, then you are actually dropping the hint that you know your software packages and the options available. If you ask, “Do you have casual Fridays?”, then the employer might think you are more concerned with your comfort.
2. Using Poor Grammar
I know we joke around about this so much but I NEVER hired a person who could not speak correctly. Anyone who said, “You was…” never got a call. If you are the type of person that says that the employer, or me, is too bent out of shape or that you wouldn’t work for someone like me, you are cutting down the height of the ladder you could be climbing. If you speak that way, you probably type that way. If a pleading goes out that way, you are telling the judges and other attorneys that the attorney isn’t very bright and the firm’s clients might feel the same way.
3. Procrastination, Tardiness, and Timeliness
Nothing was more upsetting than tardiness. VERY, very rarely is there ever an excuse for being late. Sleeping in is not an excuse, it is a reason for suspension. In this field, and in my prior business, being on time is a key to success. If you wait too long to file a complaint, then you lose your ability to sue. If you are late to work, you can’t answer the call from opposing counsel. If you are late to work, no one is there to meet the new client. Traffic is never an excuse. It just means you didn’t leave from home soon enough. Do I sound oppressive? You should always travel with the intention of getting to work at least 15 minutes early every day taking into account weather and traffic conditions. Short of an accident or emergency, there is no excuse for being late…unless you are the boss. It is their choice to lose money if they want, not yours.
While the topic of timeliness is up, procrastination should be included. I once caught an employee emailing nude pictures of herself online. While you may be thinking I should be upset with her proclivities, I was more upset that I was paying her an hourly wage to do it. I was paying her hourly wage to surf MySpace and Facebook. I couldn’t figure out what she was doing during the day. I had her keep a notebook to give me a run down of what she accomplished each day and it still seemed like more should have been done, so I installed a keylogger program on all of the computers that would record every keystroke and take a screenshot every minute the computer was in use. Oddly, I reviewed the video and logs on pay day, shortened her pay about 20 hours, printed a picture she sent, and gave both to her at the end of the day. I told her she should not bother to come back on Monday. She never even bothered to try to argue why her check was cut in half.
The point is that you are at work to work, not to socialize. Your employer should not be paying for you to take personal time on the clock.
4. Discussing your Religious beliefs
Unless you are interviewing for a job within a church, this should not be discussed. Employers are not allowed to ask, but all too often, it is the employee who brings it up. I don’t care if you go to church on Sundays. I only care when you are available to work. More so, it is the proselytizing at work that is the most inappropriate. There was a NASA scientist fired from NASA not long ago. The argument he made was because he was Christian, but it was revealed it had nothing to do with his faith as it did for his evangelizing others at work because he couldn’t cope with the faith, or lack thereof, of his coworkers. For years, coworkers complained and filed grievances against the man, but NASA kept him. Finally, when they had to make cuts, they let him go and he sued with a claim of religious discrimination. My father always told me that, “If you want to keep your friends, never discuss politics, religion, or sex.” The same goes with your job, unless you are a politician, priest or prostitute.
5. Bringing Up Your Personal Drama
I love to hear what is going in someone’s life typically, but you have to draw the line. There are some people that just love to tell you how their personal lives are preventing them from functioning, especially at work. If you can’t leave your personal life out of work, don’t go to work. Telling your coworker that your spouse has decided to go back to school, get a new job, or that you are having a baby is all great and acceptable. Telling your coworkers about your brother’s drug problem and how you have to help with it is not acceptable. Telling your boss about the DETAILS of your husband’s health problems is not acceptable. Telling your boss that your husband is sick or just diagnosed with cancer is more than acceptable. Telling the rest of the staff though about how often you need to change a colostomy bag is not acceptable. If your story takes more than two minutes from your coworkers’ time, don’t share it. If you need to talk about it, find a friend after work or take time off.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it was at the top of my list. Hearing so many rants about jobs and bosses though just really started to eat at me. I hope this serves as a reminder that you are at work, not to earn a paycheck, but to help your firm earn a profit. If they don’t see your worth, you probably haven’t earned it or you are too scared to show it. I think that will be my next post, “How to Show your Worth at Work.”
Joseph Bryant is a Domestic Relations Mediator, Tax Consultant, and Virtual Paralegal. He is back in school working on completing his Bachelor’s in Legal Studies and Masters in Taxation. His bio can be found at http://www.linkedin.com/in/taxprojoe.
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