The Right Way To Get a Job

ASHLEY AUSTEN November 1 1925

The Right Way To Get a Job

ASHLEY AUSTEN November 1 1925

The Right Way To Get a Job


THE manager of the employ-ment agency spoke "Yes, I've got a job for you. It's up in the bush. Got a dollar The tattered, down-at-heels float-ing laborer,with a bundle of dirty rags tucked under his arm, shook his head. No he didn't have a dollar He didn't have any food in him either, but that is by the way I haven't got a dollar mister. .. ng~tt N hUI~ir. joi~. ./ t fLit V. t ¶Ltt Ut it t ui~~t Ii `~ DC y ut h t L~-~hiv v~It b~ in S tt~Ii. t\~t~f1t\' rit'.i ii O'.~ hrough a~' k of v oiat tonal guidance. d . Lit ditTi -~:-t does a i sons opt :tr:Ilite. speech t~t `Ltant~ attilvinc for a joP a whitecoIl i:

dt~'. ) 1i~t .~Ut. r Lt 1., pacLers, `~ as out. in • yards. `.~ h~ i:~de a praet ice of meeting and h farmers and drovers. but I was met by van. m n~ vrntnt iii a ria~er. to whom I explained ni.

I d Ii k~ t in on your game for a while,'' I said, Set' hw you hamlle appheant~ for jobs.'' [~ V a means.• he a~-eeI heart ii Just sit there

a caLr to ne side where my presence would fl em i~ a~ t ie j oh h u ii ers. Boy! an's secretary sp4ce a name. }~w him in,'' the employm~'n' said.

The a;~.~'ar: was a tall. weIl-huilt. sunburnt young mart with a shock of thick, black hair. He held his hat in h~s r:~nci. Bovlans manner toward him was that of

`iCri'ii~. &~il,.t tress. down, Mr. Greenawav." lie obeyed arid put his hat on the desk, thought and removed it to his lap, where he twisted hr~m with nervous fingers. Boylan continued: What is your age Tweny-orie. sir." were vu born?' `(ak N'~. Manitoba, Marrred?' N. sir. What edu~atron rave you had?' The r~art flushed. "I-not much, sir," he said •I~ schnh when I was thirteen years old," Why aus tha?' I was r.esded o help on my father's farm." Why d:d you come to the city?" I waned to earn to sell." \Vi'.at makes :.`ou think you can sell?" The lads eyes gowed, suddenly. "I was always rre~rv cood at `ra-hng and selling stock at home, and I it. I' he neared his rhroat-"I took a course in alesrnarsnip hy n~ail. Wh with"

it `11: /~I \`(IS (I(i)ianh/ In t/ios~' I'II() app/v to tIi~'iii for jobs? /1 , : iii is 111(1st app~'aran~', luau uiir. sp'~'cIl , ability? How far )-~ttt(I tvp~' `I cit/i t/i' in o(/('rn hl(sjn(~ss in an, and what `,`~ /`~l r(/([[(r/s~j(s in I/u' applicant uuuost like/v to impress? These :5! 1 ((i' Of ti/c' il/i portan t and timely questions answered in the aoinpanvin~ article' to guith' I/ic job seeker.

He mentioned a well-known correspondence school of good standing. Are you working now?" `Yes, sir. \\rith the city abattoir." Why didn't you ask them to give you a chance?" `I did, but there was no opening." \Vhat are you doing? Who is your department chief?" The applicant told him, and Boylan scribbled briefly on a pad, then went on. "What salary would you expect if you were started here?" `Whatever you pay your new men, sir." The employment man then questioned him as to his religion, religious, fraternal and club affiliations, and his personal habits, all of which the applicant answered frankly. Then: "All right. Write your full name, address and tele phone number on this card. You will hear from us."

Following Up

I 'HAT lad is an exceptionally good type,” Boylansaid, when the applicant had gone. “It’s easy to read behind his answers and see the country boy, eager to get to the city, and willing to study, despite hard work on the farm. That means, he would make personal sacrifices, if necessary, to get business. He is straightforward, respectful, and, allowing for a natural nervousness when seeking a position, has a certain amount of poise. His hands are rough, and his speech isn’t all I could want, but they are the result of environment rather than personal slackness, and can be remedied.” “What happens now?” I asked.

“Oh, I’ll check up his statements at the city abattoir, and if the report is favorable I’ll send for him again, and offer him a job in the plant and let him work his way to the sales force from that. You see, we very seldom bring in a man from outside, unless he has had special training or qualifications for a particular job. We make a policy of recruiting our salesmen from within the plant, so that our men out on the road know the practical side of the goods they are selling. It enables us, too, to size them up as to character and habits as well as ability, before we take a chance on them as salesmen. The system has stood us in good stead in the past.”

“What about men applying for work in the plant?”

“They’re handled a little differently. With them, of course, personal appearance or characteristics are not so important, so long as they are of a fairly decent type. They fill out a printed application form containing the questions I asked young Greenaway, and a few additional ones, such as details of last employment, how many jobs they have held within a given time, and if they had grievances with their foremen. If a man is a natural grouser he’ll always put his former foremen in the wrong; avoid that type like the plague. I ask applicants whether they own their homes, or if they rent—that gives a line on thrift—who directed them to apply here, and whether or not they live at home.”

“Why the last?” “Men may have marital or family difficulties—be separated from their wives—that sort of thing. No workman can be fully efficient who has worries of that type, and, although I wouldn’t turn a man down on that score, I’d investigate him before I took him on. But with men applying for the better class of jobs, I like to interview them personally, and get a definite idea of their capabilities.” His eyes crinkled.

“I had a man in yesterday morning,” he continued, smiling, “who was the born opposite of our friend Greenaway, there. He was a prize example of how not to get a job. He came in the office with his hat on, sat down without being asked, planked his hat on my desk, leaned across it and commenced to sell himself to me in approved go-getter style. He was good-looking but over-dressed, spoke excellent English, appeared intelligent, lied fluently about his experience in our line of business, knocked the chiefs of the firms he was with before, because they didn’t appreciate a good man when they saw one—yes, he said that—and in five minutes gave me a worse impression of him that I would have gained in perhaps an hour of questioning. He was brass itself. Reading too much of this super-salesman trash, I suppose. I think he rather pitied me when I turned him down. But imagine a man of that type representing us out on the road.”

What Employers Think

What Employers Think

A FEW days later I was enabled to get the views of a number of employers of labor in quantity. The occasion was a club dinner, and among those attending were some of the biggest businessmen in the Dominion. For reasons that readily will be understood their correct names are not being used, but as they gathered in the lounge after the meal they made an impressive group. There was MacAllistair, the agricultural implement man, large, past middle age, with canny bright eyes in a rather heavy face. He gave the impression of Continued on page 65 conservatism, but was noted for business coups that, by sheer daring and magnitude, made his competitors gasp. Cannon, the packer, was there also, clean-shaven, with a keen business face, quick and impulsive of speech and a shrewd judge of men. Of similar type but less volatile was Willis Carter, the manufacturer of motors. Carter was tall, lean and bronzed of face, with fine lips, a thin black moustache, a quiet manner and deep, quizzical eyes. He was a stickler for ethics. “Give one hundred cents value to the dollar” was his by-word.

The Right Way To Get a Job

Continued from page 22

Mention of employment problems brought immediate attention from the group.

“Funny thing,” said Carter. “Just to-day the subject came up in my place. A man came into my office with his fourteen-year-old son, just out of school, and wanted me to give the boy a start. Bright-looking lad, too. ‘What kind of job do you want for him?’ I asked. ‘What are your plans for your boy’s future?’ Neither father nor son had the slightest idea. ‘Oh, any kind of a job will do,’ was all the answer I could get.”

“Don’t you think the boy was rather young for definite ideas?” Cannon suggested.

“Possibly—but there was no excuse for the father, who had neglected to give his son any assistance in vocational guidance, beyond the fact that hejnust get work of some kind—any kind!”

“Carter’s right!” MacAllistair’s deep voice took up the theme. “I’ve had young fellows come to me, even to the age of twenty-three, who had no more definite idea of what they wanted to be or do than the man in the moon. There’s a screw loose in our educational system when that is possible. What we need is vocational directors in the public schools to observe and make recommendations— not arbitrary ones, though, mind you— based upon the pupils’ leanings along certain fines. They should guide the young folk into a definite course after a definite goal has been set. If that was the rule in the schools of the Dominion, unskilled floating labor would be cut fifty per cent, and when young men—aye, and older ones too—applied for work they’d know what they wanted.”

Warren, the department store owner, joined the group in time to get the gist of MacAllistair’s remarks. He was blunt and brusque, but not without humor. He had fought the world since he was twelve, and his face showed it. He had won. It showed that, too.

Sizing Up the Man

“IjOW do you size up an applicant for il. a job, Andrew?” he asked MacAllistair.

“I judge him by general appearance, speech, education, previous experience, manner of approach and his reaction to my questions. I bear in mind, though, the sort of job the man is after and govern my own manner accordingly. Every man asking for a job has a certain nervousness which is natural. In the case of a man applying for an office position I simply discount it, and he gets the job on his other qualifications, or he doesn’t. But with a salesman it’s different. I’m gruff as the very devil, then, and I’ll tell you for why. That man is trying to sell himself to me, and his reaction to my manner gives me a line on what his reaction will be when selling my goods to an unfriendly customer. Just a minute, though! Let me make this plain. In the first interview with a man I form an impression—not a judgment. That comes later. What counts most with you, Cannon?”

The packer smiled. “I’m afraid I’m somewhat of a crank. I must admit that a clear, healthy skin impresses me favorably right off the bat. That, and clearness of eyes, neatness of dress and general effect of dependability. I believe that men living clean, healthy lives reflect it in all these things. They are the type I—eh?—what say, Carter?”

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I agree with you there, though. Good health is an important thing. In my particular case, however, neatness of dress, and the quality of the King’s English the applicant misuses are not so mportant. By far the majority of my

employees are mechanics and manual workers, so I have to judge them more from a standpoint of technical knowledge coupled with a history of their former industrial experience. I do insist, though, on general decency and a reasonable demonstration of graciousness. I will not tolerate a misanthropist nor a discontented man in my plant.”

“That point, MacAIlistair, of a man selling himself, is good,” Warren commented. “In my considerable experience I have discovered that the first few minutes of an interview with an applicant will indicate pretty clearly how he or she is likely to turn out, allowance being made, of course, for the other thing you mentioned—that one forms an impression, not a judgment, in the fii t interview.” “What’s your procedure in hiring a young man?” Cannon as! ed.

“I begin to size him up when he steps in the door. I note his appearance, speech, manners, whether he removes his hat, if his boots are polished, his finger nails clean, his suit—never mind the quality—brushed and neat. By these details I gauge pretty accurately how much importance he attaches to getting the job. If he is indifferent to his personal appearance he is indifferent about whether he is taken on or not.”

“Don’t forget the gum and candy chewers,” put in Carter with a smile. “They’re my pet little aversions!” “Yes, and the nicotine fingers!” Cannon added.

Employment Psychology

“ A GIRL came in to me one day,” D Warren resumed, “and applied for a position in the French Room. Her recommendations—she came from Quebec—were excellent, her manner good, and she was a convincing talker. But I wouldn’t take her. That is, not at once.” “Why not?”

“Her hair was bleached, and she rouged too much. Now you wouldn’t think that rouge and lipsticks and bleached hair would matter so greatly in the French Room, where nothing but imported continental models are displayed, and the customers are wealthy, generally traveled, broad-minded, and all that kind of thing—but that’s where our peculiar Canadian psychology comes in. If those customers were doing their shopping in Paris, they would think nothing of salesgirls painted up like burlesque show poster-bills. They were in wicked Paree they would think, and they might even get a bit of a kick out of it. But not in Canada! No, sir! If one of our clients here at home is waited on by a little salesgirl who goes in for scarlet lips and pointed lashes and henna’d hair, they don’t think she’s smart and ‘Frenchy.’ They put her dowm for a bold little baggage. That’s why I told that girl to come back to me when her hair had recovered the color God gave it. She did, too, and she’s working for me now, and making good.”

“That’s a point that hadn’t occurred to me,” Carter remarked, “but it applies peculiarly to your business.”

“That’s true,” Warren replied, “and the personal appearance of an applicant for a job in a department store may go farthei than that. It may determine the kind of job the person gets. For example, we wouldn’t put a dowdy sales woman in the women’s-wear, but we might put a Beau Brummell in the tin-ware or notions.”

“I’ve noticed a decided falling off, lately, in the number of ‘go-getter’ types applying for jobs as salesmen," observed Cannon. “What’s your opinion of the high-pressure salesman, Mac?”

The “Go-getter”

THE implement man snorted. “Give me the old-fashioned man who knows when to keep his tongue in his head. The ‘go-getter’ is all right in theory, perhaps, but he doesn't work out in business. Mind, the idea behind the phrase is excellent—that a go-getter is a man who goes out after the business and will let nothing stop him from winning it. The pity is that too many young men mistake action, and hustle, and nerve, for results.”

“I think we've all had samples of him,” I Carter put in. “In his desire to get business the man of too aggressive type is inclined to become slack in his business morals, lie thinks, ‘Never mind how I get the business so long as I get it.’ Hustle is his god, no matter how offensive that deity may he to others, including, perhaps, the man he is trying to sell. One of our agencies had a letter once from a farmer who had been sold a car by one of our men of the ‘go-getter’ type. He cancelled his order, and concluded: T can’t afford a car, and wouldn’t have bought it if your salesman hadn’t made such a damn nuisance of himself that I had to give him an order to get rid of him —but, by jing, mister, if I catch him around my farm again I’ll kick his pants.’ Any man whose selling methods draw a letter like that should be made to sell hot coals in Tophet for the rest of time.”

Carter thought for a minute, then went on:

“I’ve got a young fellow in my plant now, name of Hastings. He’s the direct outward opposite of the super-hustle type, but I’d back him against an army of them for results. He is quiet—almost too quiet—but with a certain natural dignity that becomes him. He is deferential to the older men with whom he comes in contact, yet has opinions of his own and will state them—with mighty good reasons for them. Every word he says, for all that it’s uttered so quietly, leaves a definite feeling of confidence.”

“That’s the right type,” Cannon agreed. “I can almost duplicate him on my selling staff, I think. About three years ago a man came in and asked for a job. He wasn’t particularly prepossessing and his early education had been neglected—yet he possessed such soundness of character and ability to make and keep friends that he has become one of our best salesmen. As a contrary illustration I might mention another fellow who came to us, well recommended by his former employer, bright, snappy, bubbling over with pep and right on his toes: just the type I suppose most of us would have taken without question before the explosion of this ‘go-getter’ fallacy. For a while he did well, but a love for the bright lights and a good time generally and absolute lack of soundness of character undermined his and our connections to such an extent that we let him go.”

“The great test of a man’s ability is the way in which he gets on with people,” said Warner. “In Canada, we’re a rather conservative lot, and we look with distrust upon the man who is too glib. That is one reason, I suppose, why the type we are discussing has not been a success here. Slackness in business ethics, as Carter says, is too often the after result of a high-pressure salesman campaign. Combine the old-fashioned virtues with reasonable quickness of thought, action, observation, and the faculty of keeping work in order, and that man will develop business even though not a brilliant salesman. With brilliancy often go disorganizing methods that nullify the results of brilliance.”

“True enough,” agreed Cannon. “The other type antagonizes Canadians with his aggressiveness and blatancy. No flash in the pan for me! Give me the fellow who doesn’t try to be smart and clever in turning sales. Our men have definite instructions, that no matter what the immediate results may be, business obtained by trickery is not wanted. We want only permanent business, secured by plain, above-board means, and not through any new-fangled method of psychological salesmanship or synthetic snap.”

Ability Cannot be Hidden

“IV /T ANY men place too much importanee upon their starting rate in securing a job,” commented MacAllistair. “How do you mean?” someone asked.

“Why, this way. True ability is never downed. You may bury a clever man under a hundred employees and yet, because there is so comparatively little real ability in the average man, that clever man’s qualities will stick out of the ruck like a sore thumb. Maybe my metaphor’s not a winner but you know what I mean.”

“That’s rather a harsh way of putting it, Andrew,” Cannon demurred. “I wouldn’t say the average of ability was so very low. Better say that the average of undeveloped ability is large.”

“That’s splitting hairs, you pirate,” MacAllistair chuckled. “It means exactly the same thing. It’s been my experience that the man who is able and knows his job will never have to seek one. I cannot name one business man of my acquaintance of real, outstanding cleverness, who has not been sought after by other firms. And, as I said before, if a man is worth more money than he is getting the boss will see it, and the man will get it. I am speaking now of responsible firms, who recognize the value —and rarity”—he grinned at Cannon— “of true ability.”

“What do you think of starting exceptionally valuable people at a higher rate than those in your employ already doing approximately the same type of work?” Carter asked Warren.

“That system’s not worth a darn!” the dean of the group said emphatically. “I tried it. A man came to me who claimed to be an expert on Oriental fabrics. That is a qualification hard to get, and valuable to a concern such as ours which makes large purchases of fabrics from all the world. There was not enough work to keep him employed exclusively on that bent, so I put him alongside other sales people in similar lines, but on a salary commensurate with his special knowledge. It didn’t take long for the news to spread. In fact, the man bragged of his superiority until he had the entire department worked up with jealousy and friction. I got rid of him.

“Now, if an exceptional man came to me I would say, ‘Go into the department on the same pay and standing as the other employees. Sales people are quick to recognize and respect merit in one of their number if it is not crammed down their throats, and they will help generously, if they can!’ When the more fortunate one gets his raise there is no jealousy, because he has worked up from the same level as themselves and given tangible evidence of being worth it. If a man did not want to come into my employ under that arrangement I would not have him at all!”

“Have you noticed,” commented Carter, “the lack of aim in life of so many

men who apply for positions? They have simply drifted from one job to another because they neglected to set a definite course for a particular harbor or goal. They are like rudderless ships, blowing wherever the winds of chance and the currents of industrial change may take them. It’s a pity!”

The Summing Up

IT IS, indeed,” Warren agreed. “This is a jazzed-up age, to use the vulgar expression, in which the pleasures of the moment are allowed to obscure the serious purpose of life. The main object of too many young people in getting employment is not with a view to the future but simply to satisfy the demands of to-day. That is why, when I am asked for a job, I like to hear boy or girl, woman or man, say at once. “My ambitions are so and so. I wish to attain a definite goal!’ Accomplished things are the steps that rise to success, but you won’t climb them if you haven’t looked to see where they lead.” “It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a sort of summing up,” Carter suggested quietly, but interest in the subject burned in his deep eyes. “We’ve discussed men, and types, and methods of judgment, and approach. MacAllistair, what characteristics do you demand in a young fellow who comes to you and asks for a chance to make good?”

MacAllistair thought for a moment, then, “Honesty of purpose, definite aim, cleanliness in mind and habit,” he said.

Carter looked at the meat packer. “—And you, John?”

“Loyalty, constancy, courage, ambition—”

“Initiative, intelligence, persistence—” Carter himself helped swell the list. He glanced at Warren. The old man’s eyes gleamed.

“All of those, yes,” he agreed, then added emphatically, “but you’ve left out one quality without which the others are useless, and which the Canadian employer needs most in the young man he takes into his employ to-day . . . the will to work!”