Trying to help job seekers

Since the job market is pretty tepid, I’ve offered to help folks find positions. For a while, I was maintaining a job bulletin board, posting positions I’d come across and trying to match people up. I discovered two things.

First, people don’t like to share job leads. 95% of the postings to my group were from me with job leads. You’d think that someone else would have come across a position they’d like to pass on, but few offered. Occasionally someone would post their success story, which was of some morale-raising value.

Second, there are some folks who need some serious expectation alignment. Below is an example of a mail I received from a business graduate at a University I attended.

I am a recent Graduated of the XXX business school. I’m looking for jobs in
the field of Marketing and was wondering if anybody knew of companies that
are hiring or specific jobs that I should look into, it would be really
appreciated. My e-mail address is [email protected] Justin

My first reaction was that he was clueless. Second reaction: How did he get into the program? The guy needed to be educated, but I sat on this for a couple of weeks before responding:

Justin: Email like this conveys an impression of someone who is lazy,
unfocused, or desperate, none of which are traits in high demand right now.
I’d recommend you visit the Business Career Center. They’ll help you get
organized and formulate answers to some of the questions below:

  • What is it you want to do? “The field of marketing” is only slightly
    narrower than the fields of “sales” and “gainful employment.” All of these
    could be considered marketing:

    • The people who set up a trade show booth and do the demo spiels,
    • Making clip art for the company newsletter,
    • An analyst who’s analyzing scanner data in order to compute optimal
      margin for their chocolate chip instant pancake mix in grocery stores,
    • The director of PSBC who plans campaigns to persuade donors to cough up
      a pint of blood every six weeks.
  • Are there specific companies you’re targeting? Generic letters to mailing
    lists like these are never good venues for fishing expeditions and would
    have a deleterious effect on your candidacy. Every company does marketing.
    There is even a database [business career center] maintains of people who’ve offered to mentor or
    be industry contacts, however you do have to put in a modicum of effort,
    which is certainly not apparent in your email.

  • Which geographical areas are you looking? If you’re ultra flexible, Home
    Depot might be your calling as they’ve got a management farm system and
    stores nearly everwhere. (Power tools, strong industry, lots of training:
    what’s not to like?) If you’re bent on staying here, try local companies
    like xxxxxxxxxx, which hires entry-level folks.

  • What do you bring to the table? Put bluntly, why should someone help you
    over another MBA?

As you get more focused, you’ll have more compelling answers and be able to
present yourself more favorably.

Jim Carson

I got a strange “thank you,” and haven’t heard from the guy again.