Monday, May 07, 2012

Applying for Jobs {Part 1}

As part of being a Camp Director, I hire people. A lot of people. Like, 20-30 people {at least} each summer. Many, many applications cross my desk, and I can tell a lot of things from an interview. I can also tell a lot of things from the way you write your resume, the way you correspond with me, and the way you ask questions.

Keeping in mind that I am very forgiving {my staff is young, and these are not "high level positions"} of things, here are some of the top errors I've noticed. It might not prevent you from getting hired by me {depending}, but do this with long-term, higher level jobs and it will.

1. Not responding to e-mails/phone calls/etc: If I contact you about an interview, you should respond back within 24 hours. If you don't want the job anymore {this happens a lot} be adult enough to say so. If you can't return an e-mail or phone call within a timely manner, I'll wonder if you can do anything within a timely manner {like, you know, get to work}. And please, if your computer died, or a family member is sick contact me ASAP, apologize, and be realistic about your schedule for a make-up interview.

2. Responding too much: Enthusiasm is great {and appreciated!}. However, if we're playing phone tag, please do not call me 6 times in 30 minutes. Leave a message. I promise, I wouldn't have called you if I was going to fill the position in the next 2 hours, and I will call you back. So, chill. Also, if I say I will call YOU, please do not call me unless you're having some sort of issue. I sometimes spend hours interviewing people and have a tight schedule, so you calling for your interview is not super helpful.

3. Being unorganized and/or dishonest on your resume: Don't embellish or lie. Give concrete responsibilities, certifications and skills. If you have none of those, be enthusiastic about learning and tell me how you plan to do so. For many of my staff, this IS their first job, so eagerness to learn is essential. When I see a resume with a random service project from 5 years ago and nothing since, I say to myself, "trying too hard," and "not much to back it up." Also, if you're going to use an objective  on your resume {I really wouldn't}, be specific and tailor it to the specific job you're applying for. I do not run a religious camp, so an objective that says, "to work at a Christian/Jewish/Pastafarian camp and spread {insert name of gospel/good news/religious doctrine here}" will not be welcome. Unrelated activities are fine, but if your goal is to do something unrelated to the mission of our camp, you probably won't get a call back.

4. Not knowing what's on Facebook/the internet: I'm not one of those people that digs super deeply. To me, Facebook is like being out in public but not at work. If you drink outside of work, or host political rallies I disagree with, or party, I don't care. That's your private life. We all do things our bosses don't need to know about, and I absolutely would never, ever {EVER EVER} ask for you to login to your account or give me your password {totally unethical, IMO}. However, I get concerned if you haven't made your security settings tough enough and have awkward things {you naked, you passed out on a table from drinking, etc.} on Facebook, or if I Google you and find out you're lying about a job history. If I can see you bad-mouthing your current boss, that's a huge red-flag. So be on top of your security settings, and Google yourself to see what shows up.

This post might sound a bit judgmental, and really, I don't mean it that way. I'm aware that for many of my staff, this is their first job and that these are common mistakes. But, I do point these things out to them so that they can be successful in future job searches. Even if you want to work at a camp full-time, it is a competitive job market, and you'll only get so far making the above mistakes.

I'll be back with the second installment in a few days.

Anyone have pet peeves about hiring? Any pointers?


  1. I think watching your facebook and what you post is important. Also make sure your picture is at least somewhat professional.

  2. I didn't realise you were a camp director! These are some great tips, particularly for younger people I think who need all the help they can get in trying to attain work.

    By the way, I noticed on your side bar that you're currently reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close... is it any good? I was in the bookshop a few days ago and saw it but didn't buy it. Would you recommend it?

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  3. Lots of fantastic tips!

    I'm going to take you up on your pet peeves / tips question... Here's a couple that have gotten to me:

    I 100% agree with your tips, especially about the objectives. We see a lot of resumes for a specific type of position, where the objective is either left general (To work in a library) or too specific and not aligned with the job (To work in technical services [where the position is in reference]). Really, especially once you hit the professional circuit, GET RID OF THE DARN OBJECTIVE LINE! It's no longer necessary. Your objective is to continue in your chosen career and be all you can be. BLARGH! It's understood!

    Also, along those lines... and certainly not applicable to your situation with "new to the working world" camp staff... but resumes that strongly lean toward one career path, applying for a position that is in an entirely different path... that raises flags of desperation, unless it's something acknowledged in the cover letter. Because unless you are showing that you honestly want to work in this field, you're just throwing out resumes and hoping something lands... and that's not someone who I would trust to stick around for very long...


  4. It is so sad that you even have to write any of this. Um, common sense?

    1. It's not necessarily "common sense" to a teenager. When I started at camp, I was only 16. At that time, it was hard enough to write a 2-4 page essay for my English Lit classes, let alone figure out how to write a competent resume. Keep in mind, it's only easy or common if you already know it.

      Great post, Flip Flop! I would say also including any longevity in any organizations (like Girl Scouts, church mission groups, volunteer organizations) is also a must on a resume just to show you know how to commit. I didn't have these things on my resume until a great mentor of mine made some suggestions to me.

  5. These things seem so obvious to me but I am a little older than the people you hire (I'm 32). It blows my mind that some people wouldn't find these things obvious though. I definitely believe it though! They really should teach job-interview etiquette in high school!