Jonah’s Job Hunt

Jonah turned in his apartment key at his flagship state college this week. He’ll be living here, probably for the next year, as he simultaneously finishes his last couple of classes in his minor and joins the workforce. I have no idea how he’s going to do all that, while traveling to south Jersey to visit his girlfriend, but he’ll figure it out.

This summer, he polished off one more class and started the job search. The first step was crafting a better resume. Because of COVID, his resume is a little weird — online internships and restaurant gigs — but he did work a lot, so there’s stuff to put on paper. One of the big difference between Jonah’s state college and his friends’ $85,000 colleges is that the fancy places hand out some really good internships that then morph into real jobs, so the kids never really have to job hunt.

A while back, I interviewed an expert on college and work, who said that college career centers, in general, are terrible. They’re understaffed and unhelpful. When we went on college tours with Jonah, the tour guides bragged about those centers; sometimes the tours even began outside the shiny new offices for career development. Turned out, those places are all for show, unless you go to private college or are in specialized programs at the state colleges.

Unlike some of his classmates at his state college, Jonah has a built-in career center in our home and community. Jonah, Steve, and I revamped his resume. Then we talked with a friend of ours, who is the head of HR at a huge insurance company, who told us that the resumes now have to be search engine friendly.

Because people apply for hundreds of jobs with a click of button on Indeed and other job sites, companies use bots to filter down the hundreds of applications. To get past the bots, job applicants have to add a goals section on the top of the resume and stock it up with key words and phrases. If you can drop in keywords from the job ad, that’s even better.

A couple of weeks ago, we went for a post-dinner walk together and started chatting with a neighbor, who is the head of sales and marketing at one of a massive technology corporate headquarters just a few miles from here. He said that after Jonah gets a little more lower level experience and finishes the degree, he’ll set him up.

He had his first interview last Friday with a solar energy company. Afterwards, we debriefed him. Steve and I agreed that he did well, but we disagreed about one thing.

When Jonah walked into the office, after the initial greetings and hellos, the interviewer asked Jonah if he wanted a cup of coffee. Jonah said yes, because he was thirsty. The guy poured him one and they started the interview. Good move or not? What do you think? Should Jonah have said no?