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This is not the diary I was going to write.  I was going to do a bit of meta-fluff about how how touchy, touchy, touchy many kossacks have gotten about far too many things, seeming to manufacture discord from random threads of thought, and assume ill-intent where none is immediately evident (chicken, anyone?)

However, the ins-and-outs of DailyKos society have been eclipsed in importance.

I'm the office goddess for a small lawfirm; today I posted a help-wanted ad on Craig's List.

A simple help-wanted ad, for a part-time, entry-level clerical job.

During the last economic downturn, we were shocked when we received over 200 resumes in a week for this position.

Things are much worse now.

I posted the ad at 10:15 mountain time.

By 10:45 we had 75 resumes.

By noon there were over 100.

When I left work at 2:00, the count was at 350.  I checked my e-mail when I got home, and more than 60 additional resumes had come in — over 400 resumes in less than 5 hours.  My co-worker thinks we'll get 1,000 by the end of the week.

Because our office is small we work together very closely.  We've always prided ourselves that a set of human eyeballs will look at every single resume that comes in; by doing this, we've found some stellar employees that would have slipped through a mechanized "search" program looking for key phrases.  We want to read all the resumes to get a feel for the people applying for the job and, with luck, find that next stellar employee.  But I don't know that we'll be able to do it this time: too many desperate people.

I know many kossacks are in fields, and have job descriptions, that go beyond applying for an entry-level job in a small law firm.  Then again, amongst the 100 or so resumes I've gotten through so far there are those from folks who quite obviously never thought they'd be applying for such a position.  Can I give a few hints from an over-whelmed office goddess who wants to give everyone a fair chance?

First — don't pad!  Using more words to impute more importance to the jobs you've done in the past is a sure loser: it does not take two grammatically-shaky sentences to say you've opened the mail; using a copier, a postage meter, and a fax machine do not need separate "skills" entries; and surfing the Internets is not "job skill.  Occasionally these over-described "skills" lead to hilarity: one woman wrote about the "services" she could supply in a manner implying that she could do both phone and live sex.

Second: don't claim expertise you don't have.  We have asked for "familiarity with" MSOffice programs.  We've gotten a few resumes claiming "expert" and "advanced" Office skills — that are so poorly formatted as to be obviously done by a Word neophyte.  Just to be clear: when you try and line up columns of text using spaces, we can tell.  And just because it looked A-OK on your screen, or printed out just hunky-dory on your printer, doesn't mean that it will be that way when we view or print it.

Third, do not ever use a Microsoft "resume wizard".  After you've been through four identically (and badly) formatted resumes which include a "career objective" of totally reforming and remaking our office from your command station at the receptionist's desk, we start closing them as soon as we see it rear its ugly head again.

Fourth, make sure your resume is readable.  Do not use fancy fonts and colors.  Especially do not size the font down to make it "fit" onto a pre-determined length or format.  I've a blinding headache right now because looking at too many resumes in a 9 point font so it would fit on 2 pages.  And my own preference is do not used justified margins: when one is quickly scanning through a lot of material, justified formatting is "bumpy" to follow.

Fifth: proofread, proofread, proofread.  We'll eyeball your resume, but we will close it as soon as we see the first randomly-placed apostrophe-s on a plural.

Sixth be straightforward.  If there is a long list of jobs, but have only been out of school for a few years, we want to know why.  Leaving off the dates isn't a cure — we'll guess that something was up.  Write us a cover letter that lets us know that you were temping, or going through a difficult patch.  Honesty goes a long, long way.  The same goes if you're applying to us, but you've never done clerical work before.  I will be calling one gentleman tomorrow who had been working as a long-haul trucker because he honestly stated: he needs paid employment.

Seventh, and on the same theme, we know this isn't anybody's dream job.  Don't pretend that it is.

Eighth, watch your e-mail address.  Make sure that the e-mail address you're sending from has your name showing — not your spouse's or roommate's.  It's really hard to take someone seriously when their e-mail address is renodivorce or tsunaminights, or to take your cover letter description of yourself as "outgoing and friendly" at face value when the return e-mail address is "quietgirl".

*     *     *

It's been a very long day.  A very discouraging day.  I feel so bad that I don't have a job for every single person who would be capable of doing the one job we have — rather like going to the shelter and wanting to take home all the kitties, but having to choose just one (and yes, we do have what we refer to as "kitten" resumes, where we'd really, really, really like to be able to at least call someone in for an interview, but just don't have the ability).

Peace, love — and be careful out there.  It's brutal.

Originally posted to Franklin's Tower on Mon Jan 05, 2009 at 03:11 PM PST.

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