DAVID GREENE, Host:
This is that time of the year when new college graduates are facing that shocking reality of having to find full-time work. This time, they're doing it in the roughest job market in decades. So we called Ellen Gordon Reeves for some advice. Reeves is a resume consultant, and she has a new book for young people embarking on that first serious job search.
Ellen, welcome to the program.
M: Thanks so much for having me, David.
GREENE: Well, I'm looking at your new book, and the title is "Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?" And you actually write that yes, you can wear the nose ring. So why do you say that?
M: Actually, the question - the title is a real question that comes from many of the young people that I've counseled. And at least they're asking the right question, which is basically how do I present myself professionally as I job hunt? But I do say yes because you have to be true to yourself, you know? But just understand, there are people out there who won't hire you.
GREENE: Because of a nose ring?
M: Because of a nose ring. It depends on absolutely the culture of the organization. So, look, you know, you're on radio, people can't see. I don't know if you have a nose ring. I don't have a nose ring. But...
GREENE: I don't, as it happens, but it wouldn't matter.
M: It wouldn't matter. And the thing is, there are companies where it's just fine, and certainly, you're applying to work in a tattoo parlor or a nose ring piercing parlor, tattoos and piercings are just fine.
GREENE: Have you polled people? I mean, people have literally said I would not hire someone if they come with a nose ring.
M: Oh, absolutely. I just, in fact, I got an email from a friend yesterday - of course, I'm getting a lot of nose ring stories. And someone in a hospital, health care profession, said they had a fabulous candidate. She had a nose ring, and there was a great debate about whether they could hire her. And ultimately, in fact, they decided no. They asked her whether she would take out the nose ring. She said no. That was it.
But I say, look. If you're a nose ring wearer - whatever is your nose ring, whatever is your thing - if that's what you need to do, then you've got to find a nose-ring-friendly environment. And, of course, wearing a nose ring has nothing to do with your capacities on the job, but it's about understanding the professional situation.
GREENE: I'm so curious. You've gotten people asking you can I wear my nose ring? What are some of the other questions?
M: Well, some of the other questions about things like what do I do with myself in the waiting room? This is one of my favorite questions. Again, that's very insightful, because here are things not to do. In this cell phone culture in which young people seem to think that the world is their phone booth, a thing not to do is to be sitting there recounting your exploits of the night before in full earshot of the receptionist, who may go back and report to her boss on what she just heard. And then it's over for you.
GREENE: What are some of the other common mistakes that you see on, you know, first-time resumes or people going on interviews?
M: Well, first, let's start with the email address, because people are communicating that way. I'm not hiring hotmama@hotmail. Please have a professional email address. Let's just use your name and some combination of numbers if your name is a common one. And - but really, every single line on a resume is code for I can do this. This is what I can do for you, and this is the best I can be.
So if I see a typo, this is classic. What you're saying to me is I don't proofread. You need to supervise my work. I am not meticulous. Again, every line is precious. So I tell people please don't waste valuable resume real estate on things that are obvious, like objectives. What is your objective when you're applying for a job? It's to get that job.
You can save three lines and instead use those lines to share measurable deliverables. So, for example, if I say that I'm looking for help fundraising and you've sold Girl Scout cookies, and you were the best Girl Scout and raised revenue, you know, by 10 percent in your neighborhood, that counts. That's what I want to see.
GREENE: And I guess we're in the world of Facebook now. I mean, does that give potential employers an opportunity to sort of poke around in your life more than you might want?
M: It absolutely does. And they absolutely will. And I hear a lot of young people say that's not fair. Well, wake up. Facebook and these social networking sites have become professional spaces, whether we like it or not. So when you post Facebook pictures of yourself doing belly-shots in a bar, I can't hire you.
And it's not that I care what you're doing on the weekend unless it's illegal, but the gross lack of judgment that you're showing by posting these things in what is - again, like it or not - what has become a professional space shows that I can't trust you with clients. I can't trust you with confidential information. You've just shown that you have no tact, no diplomacy, and not an understanding of what's a professional situation.
GREENE: And are companies actually doing that? I mean, do they have people going in and looking at Facebook pages and into your private life when you're getting ready to come in.
M: I have heard that there are employees whose sole job it is to scan these social networking sites. People are absolutely checking, and you've got to Google yourself. You've got to know what's going to come up. And if there's anything unseemly that is about you or someone who may even have your own name, you've got to control that.
GREENE: Ellen, thank you very much.
M: Thank you.
GREENE: Ellen Gordon Reeves is author of "Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?: The Crash Course On Finding, Landing, and Keeping Your First Real Job."