my interview on Marketplace about how to job search

I was on public radio’s Marketplace Weekend this weekend, talking about job searching, including:

  • how job searching has changed in recent years
  • computerized resume screening (it’s not what you think!)
  • your parents’ advice to pound the pavement and show gumption
  • if there’s anywhere where walking in to apply in person still works
  • how to answer questions about salary history
  • and more

The segment is 14-1/2 minutes and you can listen here:

{ 33 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephanie*

    I’m an avid Marketplace Weekend listener and was pleasantly surprised to hear you earlier this summer! I think you were talking about appropriate summer office attire.

      1. Justin*

        Tis not an insult, but as someone (although in this case a man) with a fairly high-pitched voice, were you always comfortable hearing yourself speak? You do such a great job in all of your interviews, so I am guessing you aren’t all that nervous anymore (but I could be wrong).

        I speak/present for a living (I am an adult educator) and I feel super confident until I am recorded and then I am like “I should never speak again in history for I sound as though I am but a child.” (This is clearly “Justin’s Insecurities,” though.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I hope this isn’t weird to say but I’ve always gotten positive feedback on my voice (usually, uh, from men, so there’s that) so I think I’ve always had a much higher than normal amount of confidence about it. I also had a bunch of media training early on in my career so I am basically over all possible self-consciousness about speaking publicly and usually like it. (Although I still hear things I would change every time I listen to myself. I say “I mean…” way too much and sometimes talk too quickly. On Marketplace, I keep thinking I sound way too amused and I need to be a little more uptight.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Oh, but I sounded like a child for years (I don’t think I still do, but who knows) so I know what you mean. I’m a little bit contrary and took a certain pleasure in sounding the opposite of how I was expected to sound, so that’s one strategy!

            1. Justin*

              Yeah I am slowly coming around on my voice. I do well at work and my adult students don’t mind it, but then i make a phone call and the customer service people call me “ma’am” and I’m 13 again.

              (Not that sounding like a woman is bad, it’s just, you know, factually inaccurate in my case.)

          2. JamieS*

            I like the balance you strike between answering the questions and showing some personality. Obviously it’s an interview where the intent is to provide answers to questions but you want it to sound more like you’re talking to someone (conversation) rather than talking at them. I’ve heard some interviews where the interviewee sounded very formal, uptight, and/or like they were talking at the interviewer and it was a big turn off. I’m sure a lot of people have encountered the same thing.

          3. Heyo*

            Men have said things like to me in the past too. which is… gross to me. Lol. But I think your voice is very soothing! Like in a therapist way. I sometimes my recorded voice sounds nasally or young ughhhh

        2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          I’m in the same boat as you about my recorded voice. To me, I sounds like I’m about ten years old and it makes me super self-conscious.
          My voice as it sounds to me while actually speaking (and thus going through my skull/jawbones/etc) doesn’t sound anything like my recorded voice.

          I basically just don’t listen to myself recorded if I can help it, but I have been told by others that I don’t sound like a small child (just a “peppy cheerleader” when I’m doing Client Service stuff), but just a woman with a voice on the slightly higher side.
          Sounds are weird.

          1. Justin*

            Yeah. It’s an interesting thing. I also think I might not work so hard to do work that will ensure I am taken seriously if I didn’t worry my voice (and other things) made it hard to take me seriously.

            We are now officially deep inside the Justin psyche, though!

        3. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

          You are not alone with the voice thing. I usually am pretty normal about it until I hear it played back, and then I go, “do I really sound like that?”

          I think my voice can do the Hermione Granger “It’s [lɛvio’sa] not [lɛviosaː’]” a bit too easily…

          Copy and pasted from Google b/c I didn’t feel like doing HTML.

        4. Daphne*

          I have years of choral singing experience, and hate speaking in public. My singing voice is trained to blend with many other people, so the idea of being the only person vocalizing is contradictory to my usual goal. I would happily perform an impromptu a cappella number, yet I sweat at the idea of giving a speech. People find me quite odd. :p

  2. Dana*

    Can one of you guys who has listened let me know how long the segment is? I’m trying to decide when and where to listen.

      1. Dana*

        Really wonderful interview, and your voice is distinctive and easy to listen to! Former radio newscaster here! Thank you!

        (I wish all audio features that are pitched online included this information about how long the clip is. It’s just a futile wish list of mine, so thank you for taking note. I love your blog; it’s a daily destination for me. Best to you and yours.)

  3. hayling*

    I love podcasts, but I prefer to listen in the iPhone podcasts app because I can download them (I can’t always stream on my commute)…do you know where in the 9/15 episode of Marketplace Weekend that the segment falls?

      1. hayling*

        Thanks! That was so great. Interesting topic of being uncomfortable talking about being laid of or not working for a period of time—I don’t remember you specifically addressing that before.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think I might have talked about it more in the earlier days of the blog, which were during a time when loads of people were being laid off and I got a lot of questions from people who were worried about whether there would be a stigma. (There is not!)

  4. Allison*

    When you’re applying to a job, you’re qualified if you can hit the ground running the first week after minimal office-specific training, and you keep learning as you go. The first 3-4 requirements on a job listing are the hiring manager’s idea of what kind of person can succeed in the role relatively quickly. Either you have that background or you don’t.

    If you DO have the requirements, you don’t need to copy and paste the job description, but you should tailor your resume so it’s clear you have those skills. If it’s a channel marketing role and you have channel marketing experience, it’s not hard to make sure the word “channel marketing” appears somewhere on your resume, ideally in your summary (so it shows focus) and in a recent job, ideally your most recent job if applicable.

    If you DON’T have the requirements, there’s nothing stopping you from applying anyway, but make your resume as relevant as you can while still being truthful, and write a cover letter explaining why your background would help you hit the ground running. Do not say “what I lack in ____ I make up for in passion!” or “I don’t have the skills you’re looking for, but I’m willing to learn if you give me a chance.” Don’t look for magic bullet loopholes that will somehow make your lack of experience a non-issue.

      1. hayling*

        Yep, having a “Summary of Qualifications” at the top of your resume has pretty much replaced the “Objective” section. Search “summary” or “summary of qualifications” on this site for explanation/ideas.

        1. Pudgy Patty*

          But has it? I could have sworn Alison said this was not necessary in relatively recent posts. (I didn’t listen to the podcast, so maybe I am now wrong.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Definitely not necessary! But pretty common these days. Whether or not it’s useful depends on how it’s done — some are just full of buzzwords and some are so generic that all the candidates for the job could have the same thing on their resumes. But good ones talk about what differentiates you.

            But not a requirement at all.

        2. JamieS*

          Oh, a quick summary of qualifications makes more sense. I question if it’s actually useful to most job seekers though. I was thinking Allison meant a summary of the resume itself which just sounded like useless page filler to me.

    1. PM Jesper Berg*

      I certainly wouldn’t frame it as “what I lack in ____ I make up for in passion!” But that said, whilethere are certainly organizations that place a premium on new hires being able to hit the ground running, there are also organizations that look for smart/talented people generally and feel they’ll be able to learn new skills on the job.

      1. GermanGirl*

        Yes, this.

        We hire programmers and while we value experience in programming language A, we value other things more, like a track record of picking up new skills fast and getting things done. So if you have that track record in programming language B we will hire you and you will hit the ground running anyway. Maybe you will run faster after a couple of month with the new-to-you programming language but even your initial velocity will be higher that that of a candidate who knows A but is not in the habit of leaning new things fast and getting things done.

        And since we’re in Germany, where the “German dream” is to find an employer you like and stay with them for your entire working life, the ability and willingness to pick up new technology is especially important to us, because if we keep you for the next 40 years then you can bet that you’re going to be part of a hand full of transitions to newer technology, other programming languages or whatever.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      What tends to concern me is that a LOT of jobs are mostly office-specific training and there are very few people who could be reasonably expected to hit the ground running…

  5. Simon Oh*

    This is probably the first time I’ve ever heard your voice…and I’ve only been reading your blog for four years.

    All great points on the segment itself. On the part about waiting to hear back after interviews, I’ve had instances where I interviewed but never heard from them again. I know it’s customary after only applying but if it’s after an interview, it seems very disingenuous as I often have to dedicate a great deal of time and even money (e.g. commuting costs) for such efforts, only to never get as so much as a response. That always bugs me although they probably weren’t worth my while anyway.

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