Column at Nshima.com
These are tough economic times in America and elsewhere. If
you're like me, you're saving money any way you can. I've
cancelled my cable, invested in a good pair of binoculars
and started watching my neighbor's TV. Desperate times call
for desperate measures.
In this harsh economic climate, it's important to have a
job, any job. But finding a job isn't easy, especially since
so many companies are giving their employees -- even the
male ones -- pink slips. Competition for jobs is so intense
that chess champ Vishwanathan Anand has been flooded
with applications, all because someone wrote that he has
With all the competition, it's vital for job seekers to give
themselves an edge. That's why I've decided to offer a few
tips to help people stand out from the crowd. Some of these
tips may seem obvious, but, trust me, they're often
---Tip #1: Learn to speak English. When the economy was
strong, some folks were able to find decent jobs in America
by knowing just three words of English: "Me want job."
Others, realizing the importance of grammar, tried a little
harder: "Me wants job."
These days, three words of English aren't enough to secure a
job in any part of America outside Miami. Job seekers must
learn at least six words, particularly these six: "Would you
like fries with that?"
They may seem like easy words, but some immigrants really
struggle with them. A few have been fired from fast-food
restaurants for repeatedly asking customers, "Would you like
flies with that?"
The restaurants, as you can imagine, received many customer
complaints, such as the one from a West Virginia man who
threw his meal at the manager, shouting: "I thought I was
getting flies with my burger, not fries."
---Tip #2: Go easy on the tattoos and body piercing. Two or
three are OK, but when your entire body is green, the only
people you're likely to impress are environmentalists. Well,
perhaps a few others too, but they probably won't offer you
a job, unless one of them is a farmer and, with planting
season coming around, needs another scarecrow.
(Yes, I know: some tattoos are works of art. In fact,
Leonardo Da Vinci first tattooed the Mona Lisa on a friend's
backside. Unfortunately nipple rings weren't common in those
days, so he couldn't hang his friend in a gallery.)
---Tip #3: Put your best foot forward at the job interview.
This can be hard, especially if your feet look the same.
Your friends can probably help you figure out which foot is
better, but if you're still unsure, consult a podiatrist.
---Tip #4: Dress for success. Too many people,
unfortunately, dress for failure. Don't expect Chase Bank to
hire you if you're wearing a T-shirt that says "Go bonkers!"
The least you can do is change the second 'o' to an 'a.'
---Tip #5: Groom yourself well. If you're a man, it's
probably a good idea to trim your nails, mustache and any
unruly locks of nose hair. If you're a woman, resist the
temptation to dye your hair orange -- unless you're applying
for a job as a traffic cone.
---Tip #6: Try to smell good. The most important thing you
can do to smell good is take a bath, even if you've already
taken one this year. You can practice water conservation
AFTER the interview. A little perfume or cologne would also
help, but don't empty the bottle, unless you want to spend
your day reviving the interviewer.
---Tip #7: Do some research. Employers are impressed when
you know something about them. You might want to find out,
for example, what they do. Don't ask the manager of Cracker
Barrel how heavy the barrels are. And don't ask the
recruiter at Samsung what exactly it was that Sam sung.
---Tip #8: Don't do drugs. Most employers test for drugs and
if you fail the test, you won't get a second chance, unless
you're in the National Football League. If you like to get
high several times a week, apply for a job as a flight
attendant. It's safer and it won't deplete your bank
account. Just be careful how you greet the passengers: "Good
morning! Hope you have a good fright!"
(c) Copyright 2009 Melvin Durai. All Rights Reserved.