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Depressed? Hopeless? Stop Looking at the Help Wanted Ads


Ten years after the first job meltdown, the dot bomb/dot con bubble of 2000, this job drought looks worse.

Not only are there no faces to blame like Jack Grubman, Henry Blodget, Frank Quattrone or Dennis Kowalski, the nameless wonks at AIG, Fannie and Freddie still have their jobs! Thank goodness for Bernard Madoff.

Even the help wanted ads are different. (Both of them.

Sure the patronizing and tautological ones are still there.

Ambitious? Hard-working? No, I'm a lazy slacker!

Want extra cash? What do you mean "extra"?


Career minded? No I want my name on my shirt!

Tired of the run-around? No, I want more rejection.

Looking for a job? This isn't the recipe section?

Sure the old bait and switch is still operative.

Like money? Must have dependable car.

Be your own boss! Demonstrate my proven cleaning system.

Pleasant sounding telephone voice? Cemetery plot sales may be for you.

Sure "need self-starter for fast-paced office" still means "do the job of two people with no managers on duty"; "join our growing team" and "varied duties" still mean anyone can- and will- boss you around and "tremendous income potential" still means no paycheck in the foreseeable future.

But whereas pre-dotcom job ads serenaded you with "competitive salary; outstanding benefits," the only benefit associated with today's jobs is the company's charity golf outing.

While pre-dotcom job ads offered generous stock options which devalued to a goose egg, today's jobs sometimes offer salaries that are themselves goose eggs as in, "There is no salary with this job [then what makes it a job?] but it offers plenty of chance for interns and volunteers to gain experience."

And there are other differences.

While pre-dotcom ads sometimes permitted telecommuting and working at an offsite or remote location, today's jobs are so virtual they sometimes exist only on the laptop of the person running the ad. And he is probably living in his mother's basement. So much for job security.

And while job applicants used to receive a "Thank you for your interest in Happy Corp." note after faxing a resume-who remembers faxes?-which thanked you for your "interest" in the company even though a candidate had been "identified" who more closely matched the company's needs ["that's him, officer!"], today you only get cyber silence.

Unless, of course, you attach rather than paste your resume inside an email in which case you get a "message undeliverable" mailer daemon.

Still if you do manage to get an in person interview in today's job market, not phone or virtual, the same rules hold true today that did in 2000, especially for recent grads.

1. Show Up Few interview "no shows" get hired.

2. Silence Your Cell It will be someone asking how the interview went

3. Don't Ask to Delay A Drug Test Duh

4. Memorize Your Ap Asking "What did I write on there again?" makes you look tentative and diffused.

5. Expect Career Goal Questions If you've had 11 jobs in 12 years, they're not going to ask your favorite color.

6. Don't Suck Up No one will believe "I love the automotive aftermarket" or "I love to operate vacuum-form machines." Human Resources is not your interviewer's first choice either. (And don't attempt false camaraderie with, "Play the ponies, Phil?)

7. Wash the Stamp From Last Night's Clubbing Off Your Hand Hello!

8. Don't Mention Jobs at Places Called the Stagger Or Tumble Inn Even if you did make "head bartender."

9. Don't Put References On Your Ap Who Can't Be Called You may not have the chance to add "Tell Fred I'll pay for the mirror, if you call him."

And make sure they know you're not a "volunteer." Good luck.

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist, who writes about public health

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