You could populate the moon with the amount of unemployed in this country. You're laid off after gluing your eyelids to your forehead to stay awake at the job for decades. You just graduated, and that tech job you had lined up got outsourced to 10 people overseas who just took an English pronunciation course to learn how to say, "Hello, my name is Chris," with an American accent. Or those for whom a career change is in order, you're clicking submit on the financial aid site to help pay for that $5k programming course.
With so many people logging in for an unemployment check, it's easier to go a day without seeing a Michael Jackson headline than to land a job. Thus failing to prepare equals preparing to fail. How does looking for a job compare with sex? With every phenomenal relationship - whether it's a new job or a one-night stand with the girl in the club who still looked good after the lights got turned on - you have to ask yourself, "How long could it last?" and "How could I make the biggest impact?" And even more importantly - "How can I be good?
A few guidelines from our friends at 360JobInterview.com can help you become a better candidate for the job than Obama.
#1 Get Focused
Take a good, hard look at yourself; and not just standing sideways in a mirror: How well endowed are you? Remember focus on your strengths. What aspects of your past work experience, education and life experience can you apply to a new industry or a new fling with the church girl? Most importantly, how can you articulate and present your value quickly through a resume and then, if you're lucky, in an interview or small talk during the first drink? Talk to friends, past colleagues and family for an evaluation of your strengths. Consider talking to a career coach or Dr. Ruth. A simple career action planning session by a seasoned HR professional can give you the focus you need to begin a job hunt for the wine-tasting position in Maldives if you want it. Find someone who's been around the block a few times; prostitutes can tell you everything not to do. And if you're unclear about where to even begin to look, get a hack license; you'll meet a lot of great singles and you could get paid while driving to the interview. Once your prices are higher than your fares, a good career coach can help too.
#2 Create a Flattering Picture of yourself
Whether you're looking to attract your next great romance or a job, you've got to make a better impression than Bruce Wayne flying into dinner on helicopter. Your resume should constitute your best professional accomplishments bullet for bullet. Write how those accomplishments boosted revenues - in dollar signs not percentages or pesos, with the skills and experience that can be applied to the position for which you are applying. Pass your resume around; and not just to your son, so he could practice writing circles on it or make a paper airplane. Give it to your strictest professor in college; and if he says he wouldn't hire you for a unpaid internship scraping gum off desks in his classroom, then burn it. The purpose of your resume is to get you the interview. Hence if you're not getting any interviews, or, with the 'sex' objective, phone numbers, just like the pick up line for which you practiced 6 months, rebuke it from your soul - change it.
#3 Date or Interview - Punctuality Counts!
So you got an interview - wooptie doo! This is LaChamba speak; arrive not a second more than 10 minutes early. Don't show up with a tray-full of mud lattes when crickets are still chirping, if you're interview is at 1 pm. Make it appear like you're on your toes all day like you're reaching for cereal; nobody wants to work with someone with more time on their hands than Bernie Madoff. I always add on 30 minutes to my typical commute time to the city here in New York, where most of my interviews are held. I get there early and practice my lines at a Starbucks or a small food shop that doesn't smell like fried Oreos. Stuff the contact numbers for the person with whom you'll meet in your pocket - including their assistant's extension, if they have one. Sh-t happens. If a your car gets a flat tire or your sun used it to curb your dog, and you are going to be late, even with the extra time you've built in, call them and ensure they can still see you and explain your circumstances.
#4 At the Interview -- Learn from our Girl and Boy Scout Friends: Be Prepared!
The 6 figure salary question is "Why are you looking to leave your present company?" or "Why are you searching?" There are other questions a potential employer is likely to ask: "Why should I hire you? Tell me a little bit about yourself." Write responses for as many questions likes these that you can anticipate. Wipe the pimple puss off your shaving mirror and memorize these responses until your teeth turn white. Search online, read and absorb the company history and structure - including locations, employees, patents, investors, client base and press releases. Be sure to read and reread the mission statement, and know the company's products. In fact, everything about a company's public "face" or image and positioning will likely be found on their website. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Think about how you can contribute and grow with the company. How does your experience and education fulfill their expectations? Ask them, 'Where do you see me in 3 years working for your organization?' Having these answers and questions memorized as part of your long-term plan will go a long way to help the potential employer envision you with the company. Enlist the help of your family and friends - or talk with an interview coach. Conduct mock interviews and practice responding to questions you are likely to be asked. An experienced coach, especially one who understands your industry, can best prepare you toward a successful interview outcome.
#5 Watch Your Mouth - - and other things.
Don't curse. For some of you just pretend you're talking to your mother. For the rest of you, pretend you're talking to that cop who stopped you on New Years with his hand on the holster. Dirty talk is great during sex; on an interview, nonetheless, or first date become the pope - unless you're dating Megan Fox. It's okay to be relaxed, but don't grab a slice of pizza that was just opened in the cafeteria next door while you're interviewer is listing your duties and responsibilities. And keep the personal stories to a minimum; don't give him the one on how you had to pay a cop off in Africa with half an ounce of weed because you were riding a scooter without registration. Beware of verbal diarrhea; pop a butt plug in your mouth and think "bottom line."
#6 Failure to Communicate
Preparation is key to a successful interview. If you can't give a better speech than Martin Luther King, flip a bucket over and start playing the drums on the subway for spare change. Make eye contact. Listen carefully to the questions being asked and answer in clear, succinct language. Answer questions thoroughly, then shut your mouth. Practice your "sound bites" and "personal branding statements" again and again. And then 10 more times!
#7 Leave the Pink Boa Home
Unless you're interviewing for a costume shop, then throw a suit over those biker shorts and pluck your nose hairs. Wear anything you want; as long as it is a navy blue or conservative colored suit; gold or red tie; black shoes - yes, shined - don't show up with your heel slapping your foot like a flip-flop. See the shoe man if they need some work. If there is even a chance of rain, grab the umbrella. Dripping hair and clothing tends to put a damper on things - pun intended!
# 8 Let Perez Hilton Handle the Gossip
Keep the flip-cam footage of your past boss's affair with the secretary to yourself! Sometimes a simple question like "Why did you leave your last job?" can be an open invitation to see how you would throw the interviewer's employer under the bus - if you were hired. Resist the urge. It's unprofessional, often comes across as pandering to the new employer -- and hey, what's to keep you from talking dirt about them? And the world's so small you've got to walk sideways, so you don't have anybody's armpit in your face on the train.
Follow Neal Rodriguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/notifyneal