NO I WILL NOT GIVE YOU A REFERENCE.

hilarious guest post from the one and only amanda (check out her blog here). 


Listen, I know it’s tough out there for the unemployed—especially for recent graduates who are competing with incredibly experienced people who are scooping up assistant jobs like they’re at Coldstone Creamery because they need to pay their bills.

So, in deference to them, I’m not going to talk about how much it also sucks to be employed these days, when you get pay cuts on your already embarrassingly low salary, take on the work of all of the people your company has laid off, and then are expected smile and be grateful that you’re still employed. 

I mean, for real, it gets so stressful that you’re secretly planning a big, splashy suicide, where you run from the cubicle ghost town once filled with all of your friends, straight into your boss’s office during an “important” meeting, screaming, “WHYYYYYY GOD WHYYYYYYYY,” and right out the open window.  The goal would be to fall to your death right underneath the big Charles Schwab billboard that says, “I don’t want to work forever,” because, come on, that would just be hilarious.  Your dead body on the corner of 10thavenue by the Dunkin Donuts—awesome.

But enough about me—the point here is that it’s a jungle out there and people are getting desperate.   I get it.  But if I get one more goddamned request to be a reference for someone I’ve never met, or met briefly in line for the bathroom at Darby O’Gills junior year of college when we were both shitfaced, I’m going to lose it.  

I know that certain people are fine recommending people that they’ve never met solely because they went to the same college or the same sorority or the same faux Irish pub on Mug Night, but I am not.  In business, the only thing you have is your name and your reputation.  I’m not going to let some jackass I’ve never met jeopardize what I’ve worked so hard to build by giving them my professional endorsement.

Maybe I take this kind of stuff too seriously, but really, giving a reference isn’t just forwarding your resume to HR—it’s me saying, “Hey, this person is awesome.”  So when I’ve never met you or never worked with you, how can I judge how awesome you’re going to be in a professional setting?  In fact, I can already tell that you’re not awesome, based on the fact that you clearly don’t know what a reference is, and in what capacity someone would have to know you in order to give you one (ie: someone you worked with vs. someone who helped you tap a keg at a sketchy house party freshman year of college).  And if I recommend you and you suck, I look like an idiot for introducing you to the company.  No thanks.    

In one example of absolute ridiculousness, someone had emailed me for “career advice,” and after I sent her a long email answering all of her questions and giving her advice—no response.  I don’t want real card with hand-drawn calligraphy. What I want is an email (that takes two seconds and costs nothing, by the way) thanking me for my time. I’m already well-aware of your unemployment status, so what the fuck are you doing that’s so important that you can’t take a minute to shoot off an email to someone who tried to help you? 

Now, imagine my surprise when I get an email from our HR Director a few weeks later, saying that the same girl was using me for a reference.  She did this without a.) ever meeting me, and b.) asking me for permission.  OH HELL NO.  So then I had to write a “cease and desist” letter to this girl telling her never to use my name again, since we had never met, and the only impression I have of this person is that she obviously doesn’t get it, and that her general grasp on manners is questionable.    

So, let’s play a game.  It’s called: WHO SHOULD I ASK FOR A REFERENCE?

1.     Your supervisor at your internship

2.     Someone you’ve never met but went to the same college as

3.     Your boss at your summer job

4.     Your college professor

5.     Someone you think you had a Spanish class with three years ago

ANSWERS:

1.     YES, you should ask your supervisor at your internship for a reference.  They know you purely in a professional sense, and if you were a good intern (which is, frankly, not hard to do since so many interns suck so hardcore that I want to punch them all right in their faces and send them back to the smug NYU classroom they crawled out of), they will be more than happy to sing your praises.  You did a good job and worked for free. You deserve it.

2.     NO, because they don’t. know. who. you. are.  I guess if you’re desperate, you can try it, but don’t be surprised if people tell you no. Yeah, we went to the same college, but I went to college with a lot of idiots, and so did everyone else.  I’m not going to take the chance that you’re one of those idiots and jeopardize my position (or, blow up my spot) for you.

3.     YES, unless you did what most people do at their summer jobs, which is goof off, show up hungover or still drunk, and generally not give a fuck about anything because you’re getting paid minimum wage and the only reason you have a job in the summer is to save up some beer money for the Fall Semester.  But if you did a moderately good job, definitely ask him/her for a reference.  They know you as an employee and while your skills at scooping ice cream or folding sweaters might not directly translate into the skills you need for the real job you’re applying for, but they can say things like, “She was reliable, she showed up on time, and she was a hard worker,” which are all things any boss wants to see, no matter what job you’re looking for.

4.     YES, but only if you’re desperate.  College professors can speak about your intelligence and your work ethic to a point, but turning in a paper is a little different than actually doing a job.  If anything, they could be a good character reference.

5.     NO.   Let me get this straight, you think we had a Spanish class together three years ago?  If you start out a message with, “Hey, don’t know if you remember me or not, but I think we had a Spanish class together sophomore year…” just stop writing the letter altogether. You don’t even know if you met me, and if you’re not even sure if I’ll remember you, how do you expect me to go to my boss and recommend you?  FAIL.

So, in review, don’t ask people for references that don’t know you in a professional capacity.  It’s just awkward, and then they’re forced to write you an awkward message back saying, “WTF?!  WHO ARE YOU?  NO, THE ANSWER IS NO.”  Okay, maybe that’s just what I wrote.  But honestly, just THINK before you write.  It’ll save you from embarrassment, and people like me from an ulcer.

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let’s spot the typo!

Writer wanted (New York City)

Date: 2009-11-06, 11:19AM EST
Reply to: xxxxxxxxxx@craigslist.org

Looking for writer to help flush out story for children’s illustrated book.

—-
Your not qulaified, don’t bother

Date: 2009-11-10, 10:23AM EST
Reply to: xxxxxxx@craigslist.org

Your probably looking for a job that has a flexible schedule, a relaxed no stress atmosphere, and something that requires little to no effort. Sorry, this isn’t for you.

WE are competitve.

WE are motivated.

WE earn our money.

You could too, if you wanted to, but your not a closer, your not dedicated, or you don’t believe in yourself.

Your probably going to give a call and ask for a bunch of time off, and how much does it pay, and what are the hours etc. Please don’t call if you are looking for a “safe desk job”.

WE drive, so you need a car.

WE grow in this company, your success is our success, we promote from within and depend on you to make it.

WE are POSITIVE, everyday is exciting and new. Your biggest and best client is waiting for you to show up. WE’VE already set your appointment!

WE provide all the training and opportunities; you supply the great attitude.

document proofing – English Spell Freak Wanted

Date: 2009-11-02, 9:38PM EST
Reply to: xxxxxx@craigslist.org

Local publishing company has a regular, part-time position for a proof-reader. Writing, filing, billing and office assistance skills a plus. Hours are 9am – 1pm, Monday thru Thursday. Our offices are located in xxxxxxx this is NOT a work from home opportunity. Email your resume, references, and requirement in confidence. Excellent opportunity for a person with strong grammer skills. EOE.


wait staff

Date: 2009-10-28, 10:31AM EDT
Reply to: xxxxx@craigslist.org

xxxxxx, fine latin cuisine is hiring energetic wait staff,

the ideal person must to know wine, liquor and table manners, with good apperance and good actitud

requisites:
2 yrs minimun experiance in the the service area
work weekends and hollidays

a dose of hope for your monday!

reader story – a hopeful one this time! submit yours to mybsisbs@gmail.com.

I majored in a program called “Psych Special Ed” at my college. Basically I graduated with a BA in psychology and teacher certification in general and special ed grades 1-6th in NY State. A few years into the major, I figured out that I definitely didn’t want to teach but I stuck with it because of the psychology degree. A day after graduation I moved to the great state of Rhode Island and searched for jobs. I applied to probably 50 jobs and I got 3 interviews.
Interview 1: It was for a daycare program (a backup job in my mind) and she loved me but said I didn’t have enough experience. 3 months later she called and offered me the job.
Interview 2: It was for a counselor for students that were needy in a city. He said I didn’t have enough research experience in psychology.
Interview 3: Working as an ABA therapist for students with special needs, hired me on the spot.

In my opinion, I was very lucky. I stepped out of the box and applied to anything that had to do with my major. I was very torn with really no direction in terms of exactly what I wanted to do. It worked out and 5 months later, I am still working as an ABA therapist. I fell into the job but it is truly what I was meant to do at this point in my life. A year ago, would I ever have pictured myself with this job? Absolutely not. In my case, it took an interviewer who saw my talent and pictured me in a position to give me a direction.

I agree with a prior post that if you know exactly what you want to do (and it’s feasible), there is no point applying to random jobs. However, if you are like I was, with barely any direction, apply to anything and everything that can remotely relate to your major. Eventually, something will come through, and you will find your way just as I have.

it’s okay not to settle (within reason).

one of my favorite phrases is “eyes on the prize”. not only because it rhymes, but because it consistently keeps me on track with whatever goal(s) i happen to be pursuing. to that end, i’m a firm believer in never settling for anything (jobs included) that you don’t want. when i graduated college, i set out to be a copywriter. while i expanded my search considerably as times got more desperate, i refused to apply to or take a job that would send me down a less desirable path (even harder now, when supposed industry sites are hawking customer service job listings – see this article from gawker). anyways, funny enough, i’m a copywriter now. “if you never settle for anything but the very best, you very often get it.” no idea who said it, but how true, right?

NOW…what about the money?! as much as it’s about your dreams & goals, you’ve also gotta hustle…i get it. so wait tables, bartend, work retail – all great to pay the bills. but if your sights are on something beyond that, you’ve got to be working towards that as well. pick up a few freelance gigs (see my post a few weeks back) or take an internship at a business in your desired field. it’s the best of both worlds – you keep your eyes on the prize AND have some income to boot!

celebrities are unemployed, too!

do you know what the only thing that super-celeb lindsay lohan has to show for her 2009 (well, besides a rocky relationship and swirling drug rumors) is? ONE movie. a made-for-tv movie. that aired on ABC family. i bet you can think of quite a few more accomplishments from your past year.

if you’re feeling woeful about your employment prospects or lack thereof, just think: folks like lilo, scarjo, and j-lo are just as unemployed as you when their well o’projects on deck dries up. the difference? they’ve just got more money to throw around, and more people know their names. so, the next time someone asks you the dreaded “job” question, just answer: “i’m in between projects.” ahh. now doesn’t that feel better?

jobs of the strange

a real job listing submitted by one of our readers. WHAT?!

 

Editor/Proofreader Wanted

Date: 2009-10-14, 10:17AM EDT
Reply to: job-95qqs-1420864569@craigslist.org 

Looking for an editor willing to work for trade of aerial lessons (aerial tissu, static trapeze, lyra). 
Sitting in a chair all day long is bad for the body and the spirit! Being upside down is a great way to cleanse your “reality” palate. 
Please email resume and short paragraph about yourself. 

  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

my first layoff

another reader story. keep ’em comin’! mybsisbs@gmail.com 

So I worked at this agency for about a year and a half, and had been working some insane hours. I didn’t like the hours per se, but the quality of the creative was very high, and I felt a dedication to getting the job done that I still can’t explain. I had stayed past midnight this particular Thursday night, refining options for a client presentation the next day. I went home exhausted.

I got in Friday morning at 8:30 (the official hours were 8:30 – 6:00), and continued the work from the previous day. Around 10, I was asked to come down to the CFO’s office. Now, to indicate how backassward this company was, the CFO was also the head of the human resources “department”. He sat me down, and with the whole clichéd scratching the head, hushed tones, pained expression kind of way proceeded to tell me that as a result of September 11 and its effects on the economy, they were laying me off A YEAR LATER. I realized early in his stammering explanation that I was being laid off. I asked for my health insurance to be extended through the end of the month, and quietly, deliberately, inquired, “Since I was here last night past midnight, why the FUCK couldn’t you have called me at home this morning and just told me to go back to sleep?” He agreed it probably would have been a more suitable arrangement – for both of us.

I proceeded to the parking garage, where I blew donuts for the final few minutes before heading home to call recruiters.