Kline: Getting a job requires more than education
By Daniel B. Kline
The pile of resumes on my desk suggests that either the American educational system fails to prepare students for getting a job or the rules of grammar, spelling and logic were changed without my knowledge. Of the hundreds of applications I received in my quest to hire an entry-level graphic designer, very few lacked serious flaws.
The majority of the applicants seeking to fill this particular opening actually possessed college degrees - some from reasonably prestigious schools. Four extra years of schooling may have filled their heads with facts about obscure literature and all sorts of scientific theories, but it's obvious that classes in resume writing were not part of the curriculum.
Forget the horrific grammar and spelling (for a job where the description includes being proficient in those two areas); the vast majority of applicants appear to lack the basic skills asked for in my help wanted ad. If you have no previous work experience at the job you are applying for, it's generally a good idea to explain in your cover letter why you still might be a good hire....
As for your resume, while many experts debate whether you should include an "objective" section at the top, I've never read one article that suggests replacing that area with a quote from Oprah. Similarly, I'm pretty sure no book or magazine article has ever told a prospective job candidate to paperclip a sexy picture to her cover letter.
Unfortunately, this has not stopped actual job applicants, whom I must assume hoped I would hire them, from doing exactly those things. I've also received resumes that contained "Star Trek" quotes, one that was packaged with a mix tape and more than a few that contained multiple spellings of the applicant's name.
Just as applicants who are unsure of the spelling of their own names fail to inspire confidence, resumes that lack basic contact information aren't scoring a lot of points, either. Perhaps worse than the completely missing info might be the handful of resumes I've received where the phone number listed does not include the area code, or has too few digits.
Though it might be difficult to get a job even under the best of circumstances, a candidate who has a clean resume and a cover letter that concisely explains her qualifications has a huge advantage. Education and work experience matter precious little if your resume buries this information under a discussion of which Backstreet Boy you like the most.
This article illuminates various gaps in our education process. More than just poor grammar and spelling, there is a lack of understanding in regards to social graces and business sense. This is one of the reasons why a college degree isn't necessarily the key to success.
Some of my own post graduate job hunting efforts looked embarrassingly similar to the candidates described by Mr. Kline. I remember my brother-in-law laughing at me when I explained why I thought I should earn a particular salary. My reasons included things like the budget I had imagined to cover my expenses. My brother-in-law responded that a future employer doesn't care what kind of life style I think I am entitled to; an employer will pay what I am worth to his business.
Much of my post graduate growing pains could have been prevented by a good "real world" education. So much of school is disconnected from reality that graduates hit the job market as prepared as aliens from another planet.
Our homeschool program includes more than just the skills of spelling and math. Application of these skills in the form of writing a resume, balancing a check book, money management, and cooking are the goals for our course of study. While being able to color in the correct dot on a standardized test is nice, it is not the purpose of our educational plan.
This also brings up the topic of socialization. Socialization is one of the reasons we homeschool. Popularity in school does not translate well into success in life. The inverse is generally true. The social skills that make for happy home are learned at home. Traditional schools do not teach good interview skills or how to dress for success in the business world. Again, the inverse is generally true. The behaviors, such as modern dress and speech, that are most rewarded at school (in the form of popularity) do not lead to success in the real world. Often the skills that lead to good grades, such as cramming, passive learning and cheating, don't serve the student well outside the artificial environment of school.
Many criticize schools because children are not learning. Children at school are learning all too well what they are taught. Unfortunately, these lessons are not the ones their parents intended.
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