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How To Turn Off A Potential Employer

Updated on June 28, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting

My wife and I are looking for a sitter for our brood. We are using a service, Care.com, to find qualified people to watch our kids. We post a help wanted ad of sorts on the website and interested sitters apply for the job by sending us an email expressing their interest. Applicants have profiles where they outline their experience just like a resume. They have the opportunity to upload a photo, list their availability, and also list any relevant certifications such as CPR or AED.

They are also given ample opportunity to really turn off a potential employer.

Key words here: help wanted ad, apply, resume. We (the potential employer) need a sitter. We post a (help wanted) ad. You (the applicant) apply for the job. You send your profile (resume) for us to review. No different than applying for a job at Walmart. So why on earth would you treat your profile a.k.a. resume like an ad posted on a dating site?

Employers Want...

Employers don't know what they need, but they know what they want. Through this, they eventually boil down a candidate that has a suitable mix that meets the need and fills the want. As an employer, I want a person who is reliable, well mannered, experienced with children, certified in CPR, has a background in early childhood development, has a spotless background check, has references, and has a positive personality that will not frighten the crap out of my kids. That is what I want. What I need, I think, comes close to that. (I really want a nanny but my wife disagrees.) Reality: what I want doesn't matter. What I need does.

If you were applying for a management job with Mega Corp, what would you put on your resume or in your cover letter? Would you note that your were a faith based manager? Or that you were ethnically diverse? Would you specifically state that you were male or female? Would you fill your cover letter with political, religious or philosophical rhetoric? Not likely. And I can tell you based on my experience as a hiring manager for a mega corp, if you did, your resume would quickly find its way to the circular file. For my new manager, I may want someone who closely matches my political, religious or philosophical views, but that's not what I need. (I can't ask questions about your religious or political views in the interview.) What I need is someone who is going to effectively manage my group and follow standard operating procedures. I need someone who is going to communicate well, take initiative, be in charge, handle problems, and ensure that the work of the group gets done on time, within budget and at the quality standards set forth by my mega corp.

You need to be able to tell employers that you will satisfy their wants and needs without crossing any lines or bringing up subjects considered taboo in the interview room. Look at what I want: reliable, well mannered, experienced with children, certified in CPR, has a background in early childhood development, has a spotless background check, has references, and has a positive personality that will not frighten the crap out of my kids. How do you translate that in to your resume or cover letter in terms of meeting my needs? Tell me you fit the bill by detailing your experience, your skills, your education, and tailor your information to closely match my want list. If you look at the job description or "want" ad, you can easily translate that in to a list of needs and requirements and tailor your resume to meet the need and want at the same time.

Dating Game

My search for a sitter is akin to a dating game, and the dating game shares many of the same traits as searching for a new job or new employee. I have had a job listing on the site for 2 days and I have received over 30 inquiries (applications). I have to narrow down the choices by what I see first. In this case it is the profile photo. In the case of Mega Corp, it is your cover letter.

My photo pass criteria: no cell phone pics in vehicles, no cell phone pics in front of the bathroom mirror, no pics from last night's party at the dorms, no ridiculous piercings (ridiculous is in the eye of the beholder), and definitely no crazy eyes. (We all know what those are, except of course for the people that have them.) Mega Corp's cover letter pass criteria: no mis-spelling, no "to whom it may concern", be on resume paper not copy paper, don't say "thanks" at the end, provide a general overview with one or two highlights, don't talk about what you have done or like to do, talk about how you will meet my need. At the risk of sounding trite, you need to put your best foot forward on the cover letter so the potential employer will look at your resume.

In the end, if you are careful in your approach and remain professional, you should survive the first round of electronic filtering and the next round of cover letter filtering. Making it seem like you are both what they want and need at the same time will help you get your foot in the door.

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    • Jeff Gamble profile image
      Author

      Jeff Gamble 5 years ago from Denton, Texas

      Thanks for the insight. I'm a former Bostonian, so the culture shock of coming to Texas was indescribable. "Where ya'll going to church" was the first question we were asked too. (After I while I started telling people I went to temple, not church.) Asking about one's religious beliefs in a job interview, no matter what part of the country, is not legal unless it is pertinent to the job. When an employer asks a question that falls within the scope of illegal questions as defined by the EEOC, the potential employee could have grounds for a discrimination lawsuit. I know this was just a baby sitting job, but if you apply the logic to "real world" job, would you title your Careerbuilder.com or Monster.com resume profile "Good Christian" and expect to get a flood of responses from eager employers? Probably not from anyone who pays above minimum wage.

      One of the first interviews I had after moving here, the hiring manager asked where I was from, noting that he didn't recognize my accent. I told him I was originally from Massachusetts. There was an instant change to his body language, his tone and his demeanor. I knew right then that I had no shot. You are right about the values gap between Texans and Federal guidelines. In the end, we found a good sitter. She's an upper-mid-west-almost-Canadian Yank, and we don't have to worry about the lack of rhinestone encrusted, wrought iron crosses in our house when she comes over.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      Very interesting hub. I don't know if you're originally from Texas, but many people here put religion and football (not in that order) ahead of everything else.

      When I moved here (I'm a Yankee) the first thing people would say to me was "What church do you go to?" Not how are you, what brings you to Texas, nice to meet you, my name is - - - what's yours, or anything like that. None of that silliness, just cut to the important thing immediately -- what church did I go to?

      It's not enough here to go to the right denominational church (Southern Baptist), but one must attend church in the correct building -- the one where everyone is saved as opposed to the one where almost certainly no one is saved -- because they worship in the wrong building among the wrong people. ;)

      So the reason people applying for your sitter position may be telling you all about their religious beliefs is because most people here would not want someone with the wrong religious beliefs or someone who attends the wrong church building taking care of their children. After religion, the next death sentence comes if you favor the wrong political party -- Democrats need not apply.

      I have applied for jobs here where I was given a form in addition to the application form stating that if hired I needed to be ready to "share my faith" with customers and co-workers at the drop of a hat. I'm not sure that's legal, but many Texans really don't care if something is legal if it goes against their values.

      Here, by the way, is just a hop, skip, and a jump from where you are, so the things I'm talking about are common in your neighborhood, so to speak.

      Excellent hub. Very entertaining and full of good tips for people serious about finding a job. Hope you have been able to find a suitable sitter. ;)

      Voted you up, and interesting. Will share with my followers.