Paul Smith's Articles for Spotlight Magazine

Get Hired

During the Great Depression of the 1920s the Western Union Telegraph Company had a single vacant position for a morse telegrapher. Over 400 applicants filled the waiting room hoping for an interview, and a group of repairmen hammering away in the entrance didn't help their already frayed nerves.

Suddenly a young man stood up and strode purposefully to the door of the interview room and walked in without even knocking. Ten minutes later he emerged with the WUTC selection officer who made the following announcement:

łGentlemen, you may all now go home, the vacant position has been given to this young man here - he was the first of you to realize that the workmen in the doorway were hammering a message in morse T-O A-P-P-L-Y F-O-R T-H-I-S J-O-B P-L-E-A-S-E E-N-T-E-R T-H-E I-N-T-E-R-V-I-E-W R-O-O-M W-I-T-H-O-U-T K-N-O-C-K-I-N-G˛

Getting hired in tough times requires not only qualifications and experience, but also boldness and imagination. When hundreds of people are applying for the same position, how do we even get on the radar screen of a future employer? Here are two tips.

TIP 1. To get a job, don't apply! Don't waste your time applying for any advertised position. The more attractive the job, the more the applicants, the more tougher the selection process, the less chance you have of being the lucky winner. Why enter a race with low odds of winning?

TIP 2. Use your energy to get into a race where you are the only runner. Draw up a hit list of your top favourite 20 companies and identify in each case the individual department and manager you'd best like to work for. The HR department will quite rightly view you as 'one of many' - so try to avoid this route, unless you actually want to work in HR.

Two key questions to answer are "How can I make myself known to my future boss?" and "How can I position myself as highly valuable potential member of his/her team?" Consider a creative approach as in the following example.

A young art student in Hamburg was determined to get a job with a Munich agency. She figured that using a standard approach, she'd never even get an interview. Her strategy involved sending a curious package to the agency. In the pack was a man's leather wallet containing some keys, a 10 DM banknote, a press cutting about the agency's top client, and a sealed envelope personally addressed to the agency boss and marked "confidential". The boss's PA, thinking that her boss had lost his wallet was more than happy to put the package on the top of his in-tray. The sealed letter contained the student's polite request for an interview. She wrote "...although you may not have a position which is currently vacant, please grant me a short interview where I'd like to show you how my creativity can also serve the interests of your clients." This student got an interview, and got the job.

If you have any good interview stories, I'd be happy to hear from you. Next month I'll tell you about what to do when you're facing your future boss. Meanwhile, happy hunting!

Paul Smith

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