Honest Answers

June 1, 2004
Stephen Viscusi

What's up with the employment market?


Dear Steve,

I have been unemployed for some time and I am beginning to notice some movement in hiring. I have started getting interviews again and—guess what!—the first interview I went on I got a job offer! I was happy, yet nervous that it should be so easy. What's up with this type of employer?

Too Good To Be True


Well, it shouldn't be that easy—I bet the "same day" job offer came from a dealer(?). Getting offered a job "on the spot" isn't a compliment, it's a warning sign. It usually means that the employer is desperate, and working for a desperate employer is often worse than being unemployed. Let's face it: it is just as important for you to thoroughly research a prospective employer as it is for them to know you. That takes more than one interview and certainly requires references. Sometimes an employer or manager has such a bad reputation that he or she needs to "overpay" or "hire on the spot" . . . both things that don't sound so bad to someone who has been unemployed—or hates their current job—but be forewarned! Chances are the reason why so many people left that same job before you is the same reason why you may end up leaving, too. Be prudent when making a decision to accept a new position—not desperate. Sooner or later, the right job will come along.

Dear Steve,
I think I have a good resumé, but can't seem to even get an interview. I've read all the resumé stuff, but what's the real secret to getting in the door?

An Interview Would Be Nice


The "secret" is to make your resumé fit the job you are applying for. Use the "vocabulary" of the prospective employer in your resumé (and learn the prospective employer's vocabulary by researching their Web site). With all the options employers have today, they seem to be putting unprecedented emphasis on the resumé—just as a condition—to even interview someone. Therefore, your resumé needs to stand out just to get the interview. So create "objectives" that meet the job you are applying for. It's a
good idea to have several versions of your resumé, each one customized for the specific job you are interviewing for. Just be sure you make enough copies of each and don't confuse them.

Once you create those resumés, don't keep them on your boss' computers. Consider storing your resumés at:, which offers handy on-line storage space. Additionally, rather than tie up company telephone lines with a bunch of cold calls to prospective employers, you might want to try, a business networking site
modeled after that lets you build contacts through acquaintances. Finally, to erase traces that you've been surfing the Help Wanted ads, check out It offers software that will hide your domain while you're on-line and erase digital evidence like cookies and tracking bugs.

Stephen Viscusi is the author of On The Job: How to Make It in the Real World of Work (Random House). He also hosts the nationally-syndicated radio show, "On the Job with Steve Viscusi." The Viscusi Group, Inc. (www.viscusi is an executive search firm for the interior furnishings industry. Send your workplace questions to Viscusi via e-mail ([email protected]) for inclusion in future articles.

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