Why It’s Smart Not to Turn Into a Jerk While Job Hunting

July 8, 2010 at 11:40 am 2 comments

It’s competitive out there, so out come the sharp elbows. Some folks think that an effective way to get a job in this market is to put on a good act for hiring managers while at the same time decimating your rivals — shoving others out of the way, trash-talking them and then starting whisper campaigns to malign their references and supporters. Their strategy is to discover who the competition is for jobs and eliminate them — and then they’re the leading candidate! Well, that’s one way to land a job — and sadly, sometimes it works.

But, as the saying goes, what goes around, comes around. And even if acts of job-hunting warfare land you a position, they won’t advance your career in the long run. Also, recruiters and hiring managers usually are somewhat more savvy in the short run, and tend to figure out who is using less-than-admirable tactics to get their resume to the top of the pile. When the competition is fierce, you definitely need your best game and a tough hide, yet graciousness and decency can actually aid you in landing a job, hiring experts say.

Here is why it pays NOT to be a jerk while job hunting, and the ways in which a show of humanity can help:

*Working on a team is a big component of most jobs these days. The “team player” question will come up not only in interviews, but in reference checks. Recruiters will ask the “what kind of colleague is he or she?” question in a number of ways — including for management positions. And if you’re an elbows-out sort, it’s going to be tough for you and others to make a convincing case that you’ll regularly toss the ball to someone else rather than trying to make all the shots yourself. Conversely, by playing fair in job hunting (and in your career generally), you and others will be able to provide detailed examples of your ability to work well with others.

*References can only do so much for you. Though you may be able to prepare your references to make you sound like a nice guy or gal even after you’ve pulled some job-hunting stunts, organizations are increasingly going beyond hand-picked reference lists to research candidates. (See June 17 post, “How to prepare for checks beyond your reference list.”) And if you’re a manager, organizations want to check in with people who have worked for you. You can just imagine what, when given the chance to vent, a peeved former employee or employees may say. Conversely, those who have really respected their boss and learned from them — even if they have had a few disagreements along the way — can often help their case when it comes to hiring time. So it’s better to be known as a decent manager and employee — again, what goes around comes around (though sometimes it takes a while).

*Often, the best openings aren’t advertised and job-hunting jerks are unlikely to hear about them. As hiring managers are inundated with applicants for every listed opening, they are cutting down on listings and instead are spreading the word of good jobs through their networks. And if you gain a reputation for trampling over others, you’ll likely be shut out of the loop and won’t hear about these positions.

*People have long memories. If you’ve hurt the chances of someone’s friend to get a job, they’ll remember, and may have a chance to pay you back in the future. Alternately, acts of kindness are often rewarded. If a hiring manager contacts you about a position that’s not right for you, by passing along the name of someone who could be a good fit, you’ve done both the organization and the prospective candidate a favor. If they’re hired, both are likely to look favorably upon you in the future. Helping others succeed is a key to good networking and a much more effective career development strategy than devious tactics.

*An upcoming event this weekend (mentioned on mediabistro.com) for all bloggers out there — quite affordable and sounds promising:

Join Mopwater PR and Nakeva Corothers of Nightlife PR for Basic SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for Blogs on Saturday, July 10, from 10am to 12pm.

Topics discussed:
•A list of 3-5 words/phrases and use them religiously on every page in your site or blog.
•Effective SEO copy in blogs and captions
•How to draw more traffic to your blog
•Common SEO mistakes to avoid
•Keyword research for SEO

Corothers is the creator of NightlifePR, a site on D.C. nightlife.
The event takes place in the GWUL Community Conference Room, 2901 14th, Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009. The cost: $15.

Refreshments will be served.

Sign up here.

*Speaking of blogs (and in the shameless promotion department — haven’t we all become shameless these days??) — this very blog, dcworks, is featured in the blog network on the newly launching TBD.com site. Check it out, plus the 100 or so other locally focused blogs in the network:

TBD Community Network passes 90 members

DC Works

They Say: Veteran D.C. journalist and recruiter Jodi Schneider offers real-world tips, advice, support and job leads for journalists and other professionals looking to change jobs or to transition into new fields, with a metro D.C. focus.

We Say: DC Works is a great resource for practical advice on finding a job or switching to the career you’ve always wanted.

*Meanwhile, here are the day’s fresh leads:

*The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) in D.C. is looking for a communications manager:
Communications Manager
Center for Law and Social Policy – Washington, DC
CLASP’s electronic communications. • Website Upkeep… communications, media relations, using new media technologies, etc.) and work with the communications…
From idealist.org

*Washington Hospital Center in D.C. has an opening for a senior director of grants and communication:

Senior Director of Grants and Communication
Washington Hospital Center – Washington, DC
of Grants and Communication will be responsible for… will conceive, design, develop, and manage a communication program for internal and external audiences of…
From Washington Hospital Center

*The American Diabetes Association in Alexandria is looking for an associate director for external communications:

American Diabetes Association – Alexandria, VA
relevant communications plans. * Supports management of corporate brand and reputation. * Works with colleagues in Marketing & Communications, to develop…
From washingtonpost.com

*United Way has an opening in Alexandria for a director of volunteer and employee engagement:

Director, Volunteer & Employee Engagement
United Way – Alexandria, VA
refining and creating new materials, toolkits, trainings, and other resources to support the United Way… regular listserv communications, and interactive…
From United Way

*The Hillel Foundation in D.C. has an opening for a senior associate for communications for the Israel on Campus Coalition:


*PBS’ NewsHour in Arlington is hiring for a variety of positions, including  for its six-month online desk assistant program — many fine alumni of this program have gone on to big things in journalism:

We’re looking for a few good men/women/living persons for the NewsHour’s 6-month online desk assistant program. Our desk assistantship program a popular bridge to bigger and better things here and elsewhere in the world of online and broadcast journalism. It’s also a lot of fun (and you get to work with me!)

Details are here, and the program is constantly rolling. If you want to work on the show, we’ll be looking for new desk assistants to start in early January. That gig is here.

Want to work at the NewsHour in some other capacity? We have other openings as well. Details, generally, here.

Questions or comments – feel free to ask. All opportunities are located in Arlington, Va., just across the river from Washington, D.C.

*And a reminder that National Journal in D.C. is continuing to hire reporters and editors to “restaff” its newsroom:

Specifically looking for senior or junior (not mid-level) editors and reporters.  For details, visit http://www.nationaljournal.com/talent.

Happy hunting!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

What to do When You Really Need a Job Five Time-saving Networking Tips

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. arvind pathak  |  July 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    thanks jodie for useful tips and leads.there is a job mentioned as desk assistant with you?please consider my application to be your assistant to learn about journalism.i will reread ur post and see whether i am hallucinating or otherwise.

  • 2. Marlene Kennedy  |  July 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Congrats, Jodi, on dcworks’ inclusion in the TBD community network!


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