Have you ever found yourself unemployed and looking for a job in a small town?  Websites which prepare you for job hunting are great, but they don’t take into consideration the differences between job hunting in a city and begging for a job in a small town (especially one you are not from).   You quickly learn that job hunting in a small town goes by a completely different set of rules, and that qualifications and experience are only an afterthought to most of the good folks who will be doing the hiring!  Read on to hear about some of my experiences applying for jobs in the small town where I live and learn from my mistakes.

Dress For Success

I have always read that it is a good idea when going for an interview to dress as you would for work, or maybe even a little bit better.  When it was time for my first small town interview, I kept this principal in mind.  I was interviewing for a secretary/bookkeeper job so I put on a skirt with a nice blazer.  Nothing too formal, but professional looking.  I was greeted by a woman wearing more polyester than I thought was humanly possible!  She led me in to a very nice man who asked quite a few personal questions, but virtually none related to my job skills.  He also casually mentioned that the woman who would be doing the actual hiring was out of the office and had asked him to interview some of the applicants she didn’t want to talk to.  Needless to say, I didn’t get the job!

Moral of this story:  Clothes don’t matter, you could wear a fruit basket on your head if you know the lady doing the interview.

Now, Who Are You Related To?

While looking on the state Job Service website I saw an ad from a local automotive business.  They were looking for a database administrator who would also be doing some sales calls.  Since I have about fifteen years of database administration experience I was excited about this job and quickly sent my resume.  The called me in for an interview a couple of days later.  The hiring manager and I talked in great detail about the job and where it could go in the future.  The possibilities were endless!  I was excited and ready to get to work.  They never called back.  A couple of months later I found out that the job went to a young man right out of high school who’s father was friends with the hiring manager.  Oh well…….

Moral of this story:  It doesn’t matter how qualified you are, it does matter who you are related to.

Thanks For Something To Laugh At

A local farm store was advertising online for sales associates.  When you walked into the store, advertisements looking for “team members” were interspersed with the piped-in  music.  For some odd reason, this made me think that they just may be hiring.  So I went and picked up an application.  I took it home, filled it out carefully, dressed nicely and returned to the store.  I saw the manager with a female associate stocking a shelf, so I went up to hand him my application.  I was totally unprepared for what happened next.  He was very rude and clearly wasn’t even interested in looking at my application.  But what really startled me was the female employee;  she stood back and was laughing!  I guess I missed the joke - this incident still baffles me. 

Moral of this story:  Sometimes the corporate office places the help wanted ads, local employees just need a good laugh.

I Only Interview People I Know

On one occasion, I answered an advertisement in the local newspaper for a bank receptionist.  It was an entry level job answering phones and doing various clerical duties.  It was a position I was more than capable of handling, maybe even a little over-qualified for.  Once again, I put on my most cheerful face and took my resume in.  The lady I gave it to was extremely nice and seemed to like what she saw on my resume.  She picked up the phone and dialed the lady who would be doing the actual hiring.  I guess that they assumed I was deaf, because I could hear the lady on the other end of the phone say “no, I don’t need to interview her.”  I bet you can guess what happened next.  That’s right, I never heard from them again. 

Moral of this story:  An accounting background isn’t relevant to a small town banking career, being friends with the hiring manager is. 

You Don’t Look Old Enough

An area “collectables” store had a help wanted sign in the window.  Upon entering the establishment it was clear that the term collectables was used as a reason to charge a little more for junk.  However, there actually were a few genuine antiques scattered throughout the store, although many of them were mis-marked.  I approached the owner and asked about applying for the job.  She looked me over and then said no, I clearly wasn’t old enough to know anything about the kind of antiques she dealt in.  Since I was over thirty years old I was totally mystified by this statement.

Moral of this story:  When applying for a job in a small town, try and look older than the woman doing the hiring.

My job hunt continues.  As for now, I am a college educated fast food worker.  I have over fifteen years drafting experience, database experience, and an education in accounting and paralegal studies, yet I take orders from an eighteen year old who’s told me that I don’t know how to correctly wipe trays or use a salt shaker.  Sometimes, you just have to laugh, put on a smile, and move on to the next interview.  Who knows, it just might be “the one.”