Jobless? Get Noticed In The New Economy The unemployment rate is up across the country, and so are the numbers of people looking for new jobs. Conventional wisdom says it's probably time to polish up your resume. But with people showcasing their talents on YouTube and networking on Linkedln, are resumes relevant?

Jobless? Get Noticed In The New Economy

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/103613245/103613239" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

More than 13 million of us are officially out of work and looking for jobs. Many more worry they could be next to get the pink slip. Conventional wisdom says it's time to polish up that resume. Or is it? If the last time you were on the job market you scanned the classifieds, well, you're going to discover a whole new worldwide Web out there: LinkedIn, Twitter, VisualCV, even YouTube. Social networking could be necessary before anybody actually looks at that one-page masterpiece.

What does it take these days to get noticed? In a few minutes, we'll talk with a woman who sorts through the resumes at Southwest Airlines about who stands out and why. What do you do to get noticed in the current job market? What worked? Give us a call: 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. Go to npr.org and click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, there is no nice way to say no, but some are nicer than others. If you're received an infuriating or heartwarming rejection letter, email us: talk@npr.org. But first, getting noticed. And we begin in Boston with Dan Schawbel. He's the author of "Me, 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success," and he's a social media specialist for the global information technology company EMC Corporation, and joins us today from the studios at member station WBUR. Nice to have you on the program today.

Mr. DAN SCHAWBEL (Author, "Me, 2.0"; Social Media Specialist, EMC Corporation): Great to be here, Neal.

CONAN: And so resumes - are they relevant anymore?

Mr. SCHAWBEL: They're so relevant, and you must - you have to have a resume. But now you need a digital resume. You need your online identity so people can find you online, because they're already searching on Facebook, on LinkedIn, and on Google.

CONAN: So people are looking across at multiple platforms. They're not just waiting for the mail to arrive.

Mr. SCHAWBEL: Exactly. You need to be found, because they're already searching there.

CONAN: And you are a great proponent of something you call personal branding. And among the requirements for personal branding is that your message ought to be consistent, that what you say about yourself in your resume ought to be the same thing you say about yourself on your Facebook site and on your LinkedIn site and in your Twitters.

Mr. SCHAWBEL: That's a really great point. Everything needs to be consistent across the board. And this is not just the verbiage that's on your resume, that's on your blog, your Web site and the social networks. But it's also your picture. And your picture - you should use the same picture on all your social networks and your blog. And then the final thing is you need to be able to have a positioning strategy to position yourself on a specific skill to be known for, so people come to you for that skill.

CONAN: And you ought to maybe edit some of the pictures on your Facebook site, because the kegger that you threw the last year in college, maybe you shouldn't want those pictures up there anymore?

Mr. SCHAWBEL: Absolutely not. Because people - companies have access to your information, and people are going to be searching through Facebook. One in every five hiring managers and one in every 10 admissions officers from college uses social networks as background checks. So that's just another part of the admissions process, the recruiting process. So you've got to be aware of that.

CONAN: And it's interesting. We're talking about a certain level of job, I guess. Does this matter if you're applying to be a cab driver, or work in retail?

Mr. SCHAWBEL: More so as you go up more of a corporate hierarchy. So for executives, there's an almost 100 percent chance you'll be Googled, because there's more risk involved to that company. They're spending more money on you. And as you go down, there's less and less chance. But, I mean, you just have to do it anyways because, you know, you never know who might be searching for you. And remember, you've got to be opportunist, too. So people might be able to give you opportunities if they see you positioned well online for a specific skill that they're trying to get and hire for their company.

CONAN: And indeed, might not be a bad idea every once in a while to Google yourself to make sure that your - that what you want coming up comes up.

Mr. SCHAWBEL: Yes, it's called an ego search, and it's something like 47 percent of people Google themselves. And it's really - it's actually really smart to Google yourself because you want to see where you stand, as opposed to the competition, the people who share the same name as you. So if you're John Smith, you probably won't appear in the first 10 results. But if you have a unique name, you have the chance, in order to own your top 10 results, by establishing your name on social networks, a blog and so forth.

CONAN: Now let's see if we get some listeners in on the conversation. What works when you try to make yourself stand out in a job search? 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. Max is with us, Max on the line from San Francisco.

MAX (Caller): Hey, Neal.

CONAN: Hey, Max.

MAX: I first got up to San Francisco and was applying for jobs like I always did, which was just sending out tons and tons of resumes and standard really run-of-the-mill cover letters about what a great worker I am, which not only resulted in no rejection letters, it just resulted in absolute silence. So in my boredom, I started writing kind of ridiculous cover letters that I thought were really funny, pretty much just to waste some time. And actually, of all the ones I typed out, the two funny ones were the only ones that I got responses for. And I got hired for both of those jobs.

CONAN: And where did you - who was nutty enough to hire you on the funny cover letter?

MAX: One was The Onion newspaper, so that kind of made a little bit of sense, and I work for them in San Francisco now. And then I worked for a short time with a video game company that does sports games.

CONAN: So with the unconventional employers, the unconventional approach worked.

MAX: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. I talked to the human resources person, and she said that, you know, they get so many cover letters from all these people that the ones that really show that someone has a little bit of personality tend to work.

CONAN: That's interesting. Max, thanks very much, and good luck with The Onion.

MAX: Yes, thank you.

CONAN: So long. Let's find out from the human resources person. Joining us now from Dallas, Texas is Julie Weber, senior director for people at Southwest Airlines - in other words, she does the hiring. Thanks very much for being with us today.

Ms. JULIE WEBER (Senior Director of People, Southwest Airlines): Thank you.

CONAN: And does an unusual cover letter get attention?

Ms. WEBER: Great question. Yes, it does. Now at Southwest Airlines, we technically don't accept paper resumes any more, to be an official candidate. It is all online, and I do echo a lot of the things that Dan was saying earlier. But yes, we did recently receive in the mail a very creative suitcase that someone created with their resume in the form of a passport inside of it, and that was enough for us to at least call him, talk to him about what he was interested in and help him find a position online to apply for.

CONAN: Do you get people who send videos, particularly of those opening announcements that the flight attendants on Southwest are so well known for?

Ms. WEBER: No, we don't get very many videos, another great question. We do work really hard to try to direct people to our online Web site at Southwest.com to apply for jobs there. Our flight attendant position, for example, a lot of our positions are very, very competitive, and that's one of the reasons why we've worked hard to use online - our online application because it's so hard to go through that many resumes.

CONAN: And what does that help you do? Does it have, because everybody's answering the same questions, it gives you a much better way to measure them somehow?

Ms. WEBER: Absolutely. We do have a pre-screening tool. We do ask questions that are relevant to the job. And that does help to bubble up those that are the most qualified for that position, for us to interview.

CONAN: And how many people do you interview for one opening?

Ms. WEBER: Great question. Just to give you an example of the competition for our positions, and the majority of our positions that we typically have available in a normal year - and this year is not one of them - but typically is our entry level positions in our ground operations and flight attendant positions. And in 2007, for example, we received about 329,000 applications, and of those, we hired 4,400.

CONAN: So pretty competitive, as you say. Dan Schawbel, as you're listening to Julie Weber talk, what might be an approach that might get you in the door at Southwest Airlines?

Mr. SCHAWBEL: Break through the clutter and connect with hiring managers or people who work there directly.

CONAN: How would…

Mr. SCHAWBEL: What I would normally say is that you look to how recruitment's starting to change, right? It's more about using people who are already on social networks and connecting with them directly rather than submitting your resume to monster.com and careerbuilder.com. And, in fact, some of the job boards don't even exist anymore, like monstertrack.com is gone now.

CONAN: So it's going to be difficult, in other words, to break through the clutter, is what you're telling me.

Mr. SCHAWBEL: It's going to be difficult, but now there's new avenues in order to do it. And social networks allow you to connect one to one, because hiring managers, companies, everyone has the same ability to create a profile.

I can have a Twitter profile. Brittney Spears and Oprah can have a Twitter profile. A company can have a Twitter profile. And someone who works at a company that I want to work for can have a Twitter profile, and I can network with them over the course of a certain amount of time in order to get a position or have a chance of getting a position that I might not have been able to get otherwise.

CONAN: Julie Weber, does Southwest in any way use social networks like LinkedIn or Facebook?

Mr. WEBER: Absolutely, absolutely. So the example I gave earlier of ramp operations and flight attendants, those are entry-level positions. And as Dan was talking about earlier, the higher you move up, the more important it is to have that online presence. And we do use LinkedIn quite a bit for our professional positions.

We estimate last year, we probably hired 25 to 30 people through LinkedIn. So we are interested in finding the best person for the job, and that doesn't necessarily mean the best person who applied for that job. So we do act as a typical headhunting firm, and we actively go out and seek people and drive them to our Web site to apply. And so LinkedIn has been extremely helpful for us, and it's certainly an avenue that I recommend to anyone who is out there trying to get into a professional position.

CONAN: We're talking today about getting noticed and how to do it. If you've been trying to get yourself noticed in the job market, call and tell us what works: 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org.

Here's an email that we got from Chelsea in San Francisco. I'm the intern coordinator at a non-profit photography gallery and recently received an intern application cover letter with the closing salutation: huggles. While I don't require a high level of formality from my interns, I do expect a certain level of professionalism, especially when they're trying to put their best foot forward and impress me. The author of the letter stands out in my mind, but not in a positive way.

Again, if you've had experience on either end of that equation, give us a call: 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. There's also a conversation underway at our Web site. That's at npr.org/talkofthenation.

Dan Schawbel, thank you so much for your time today. Dan Schawbel is the author of "Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve A Career Success." He's a social-media specialist at EMC Corporation, an international information-technology company. He's also a blogger and a personal-branding expert and joined us today from member-station WBUR in Boston.

Julie Weber of Southwest Airlines is going to stay with us. You, too. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. To say the job market is tough would be a gross understatement. Already, the most severe recession in a generation has cost more than five-million jobs, and with all those people out there looking for work, you'd better have a good strategy beyond that polished resume to get yourself noticed.

We're talking today with Julie Weber. It's her job to notice people. She's senior director of people for Southwest Airlines. We want to hear from you. What strategies are working for you in the current job market? How do you get yourself noticed? Give us a call: 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. That's at npr.org. Just click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And let's introduce now Lily Garcia. She is a human-resources consultant and writes the employee advice column "How to Deal" at Washingtonpost.com. She's with us here in Studio 3A. Nice to have you with us.

Ms. LILY GARCIA (Human Resources Consultant; Columnist, washingtonpost.com): Thanks. Great to be here.

CONAN: How many people now on the job market, well, may not have an up-to-date resume? How do you avoid what recruiters call tombstone resumes?

Ms. GARCIA: Well, you avoid it by adopting some of the strategies that your guests were talking about earlier, by making sure, especially at the more senior levels, that you have a credible online presence that does a persuasive job of conveying to employers what value it is that you uniquely have to bring to an organization.

It would also help, if you have been off the job market since 1985, if you had people who you know and trust professionally review your resume to make sure that you're not using any kind of outdated language and presenting yourself in a way that makes it seem as if you're not current.

CONAN: Received an award from President Fillmore, for example.

Ms. GARCIA: Exactly.

CONAN: Okay. And the video presence, there's going to be a lot of people who say, you know, I'm a klutz at this.

Ms. GARCIA: Listen, I don't think that it's absolutely necessarily to have a video of yourself online or elsewhere. Certainly if you're in the creative arts, if you're in broadcasting, you need to have a video to present yourself. If you're applying for an online Web designer job, you need to make sure that you present yourself online in a positive light. But I don't think that you have to have a video for every single, solitary executive opportunity that's out there.

You do, however, need to get creative about packaging yourself, as you were discussing earlier in the show, and that's going to involve not only having your LinkedIn profile - I would say that that's going to be de rigueur for most executive these days - but also considering, depending on your level and the industry that you're in, having your own Web site. That does a good job of expressing your personality and your particular skills.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get another caller on the line. And this is Fred, Fred with us from Farmington Hills in Michigan.

FRED (Caller): How are you doing, all?

CONAN: Very well, thanks.

FRED: I'm a photographer. I photograph headshots for corporations for their Web presence and their press releases. And often, it led to doing headshots for people looking for a job because so many people don't understand that a Web-based social media network, especially Facebook, can work against you as well it can working for you.

If you go to Facebook and you see a picture of someone with a beer in one hand talking about he's surprised he even got up this morning to go to work, you're not going to get called in for a job because HR people will go to places like Facebook and see what you're saying about yourself and what people are saying about you.

CONAN: Julie Weber, let me ask you about that. You mentioned going to places like LinkedIn to look for prospects. Do you then vet people that you might be looking at by looking at their Facebook pages and making sure that the only picture they have there isn't when they had their finger stuck in an electrical socket?

Ms. WEBER: Great question. No, we actually do not. I think there is a bit of a line that we want to draw. We want to make sure that we don't cross over into someone's privacy, private lives. So we primarily stick with utilizing LinkedIn to look at profiles, look for the experiences and skills that are relevant to the job.

Facebook is something that we are exploring, and we will most likely use that just to put our presence out there and help to drive people to our Web site.

CONAN: But you're not going to vet people through their Web sites.

Ms. WEBER: No, we're not.

CONAN: Okay. I was just going to turn to you, Lily Garcia.

Ms. GARCIA: That is an absolutely response from a senior HR professional. Most HR professionals do not believe that it's appropriate to do that extra digging online because as your guest said, sometimes you're going to uncover information you just don't want to have about that person. And you never want to create the impression you're considering extraneous factors in a job-application process. You want to make sure that it always appears as if your decisions were made upon job-related criteria, but…

CONAN: Well, you're now talking as a lawyer. If I was hiring a babysitter, I'd Google her.

Ms. GARCIA: But let me tell you, there's nothing to stop that hiring manager from Googling you, and they do. And as I've been following the statistics, increasingly over the years, people have gotten more and more comfortable with doing that extra digging and scratching on the Internet to find out what you're really about. And not only does it not get you hired, but it's the kind of thing that gets you fired, as well.

CONAN: And Fred, if you're still with us, how is the business going of providing people with respectable photographs for their Web sites?

FRED: Well, inasmuch as I am in the state with the highest unemployment in the country, I am finding that people are now taking and changing their pictures so they look hire-able. They look like someone you'd want to hire, especially when you put it on their LinkedIn space. And I'm working with non-profits, not only telling people, you know, not to put negative things, but put things like I hate Michigan, or my last job I was a slave, it just presents the wrong impression. So to that end, we're having like Facebook Tuesdays at churches and synagogues, and I'm getting 100 people.

CONAN: It sounds like Facebook is going to be a lot less interesting, but maybe more useful. I'm sorry, go ahead.

Ms. GARCIA: Yeah, all of these things fall into the general category of using good judgment. You know, and earlier, I think an email you read, the person had mentioned how they got a cover letter and it was signed huggles, right? Well, the same thing goes for your email address.

You might get a sterling resume, great online presence, and the person uses huggles@gmail.com. So you want to make sure that you convey yourself professionally in all respects.

CONAN: That's an interesting idea. Fred, thanks very much. Good luck to you.

FRED: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Some emails, this from George in Frazier Park, California. Most state and federal laws forbid the use of photographs in hiring decisions. This is in order to forestall racial profiling. How do hiring agencies make sure they don't run afoul of those legal matters?

Lily, you're part lawyer.

Ms. GARCIA: Well, if they are looking at your online resume and it does include a photograph, they can't get around the fact that they do know what you look like. The same thing goes for being able to ascertain your age. It's going to become quite evident if you're over a certain age by looking at your photo. But what you want to make sure is that you carefully consider the professional criteria for the position and connect the dots between that person's particular qualifications and talents in that position, and then document the business reasons for the decision you made so that there is never any suggestion that you made the decision based simply upon the person's headshot.

CONAN: Julie Weber, is that the way you work there at Southwest?

Ms. WEBER: Absolutely, absolutely. I want to echo what Lily said. And we do really focus on those things that we feel are relevant to the job, but you know, and my advice is similar to Lily's and to Dan's that applicants really need to - they need to be truthful. They need to be realistic, and they need to be themselves and make sure that they have settled in on what is their skill, what do they have to offer and create that focus for themselves and their online presence and the way that they go about applying for positions.

CONAN: That truthful part. I guess I'm going to have to take that Nobel Peace Prize off my resume. Let's get another caller in. This is Bill, Bill with us from Kansas City.

BILL (Caller): Oh, good afternoon.

CONAN: Good afternoon.

BILL: Well, I was told to say that I did market myself. I went through this 10 years ago and experienced rampant age discrimination then, but found out the most effective way to do it was to shake hands and look people in the eyes. Has that old system of just being able to look at people and see if they want to hire you and you want to be hired by them, does that not work anymore?

CONAN: Julie Weber?

Ms. WEBER: That is Southwest Airlines. It is about you and who you are. And once we are able to get to those that we feel are most qualified and get to the interview, that is the most important piece of information for us. Absolutely.

CONAN: But getting to the interview is not always easy. You were talking about odds of about 1,000 to one sometimes.

Ms. WEBER: That is correct.

BILL: So, I mean, how about all the smaller companies? I'm currently employed. I've been fortunate. Again, but like when I - 10 years ago, my resume is the fact that I don't switch companies very often. I'm a very strong, loyal, strong customers, yada, yada, yada. And then they look and say oh, you're old. You've been around too many companies. You've been there a long time.

CONAN: Well, it sounds like you've got a case there, but Lily Garcia, but what's the prospects, particularly if he's, like Bill says, working for smaller companies?

Ms. GARCIA: It's tougher because you need to get over the preconception that you're going to somehow be overqualified for the job you're applying for, that you're going to get bored and leave. There are a lot of negative stereotypes that attach to being an older applicant for a position that aren't necessarily true.

So if you're applying for a position at a smaller company that, by all appearances, would appear to be a step down from what you've done before, the key is really to convey enthusiasm for that role and to convince that employer that, in fact, you're not overqualified in the sense that this is exactly what you want to be doing at this point in your life.

CONAN: But Bill's point about being able to look somebody in the eye, that's a great closer. You've got to get the foot in the door first.

Ms. GARCIA: You've got to get your foot in the door first. You have to make sure that you present yourself in a way that you're going to get noticed.

CONAN: Bill, are you working now?

BILL: Oh yeah, I'm working. I'm still employed. But I'm in the building-material business, which has a very long life ahead of it, huh? But…

(Soundbite of laughter)

BILL: I'm being sarcastic there.

CONAN: I got that, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BILL: No, it's just as this evolution comes, I think we are depersonalizing it, which makes it easier for people to reject others. It's harder to look somebody in the eyes and have the fortitude to say, no, I don't think you're the one there. If you can just hit a button and say, nope, wrong.

CONAN: Well, we have Lily Garcia here disagreeing with you.

Ms. GARCIA: I would have to disagree with that in some respects. What's happened, as the information boom, as we have this surge of applicants for positions that the economy has suffered, in a sense, is almost the opposite. The best way of securing a job, the best way of getting your foot in the door remains the networking connection. So, in a way, even though you're not necessarily shaking the person's physical hand, you're doing something of the sort when you network with them over the Internet or by phone. It's all about making that personal connection, and that's what's going to get you noticed over and above anything else that you could be doing in this economy.

CONAN: Bill, thanks very much and continued good luck.

BILL: Interesting program.

CONAN: All right. Bye-bye. Here's an email from Douglas in Longview, Washington. I'm running into more and more companies that only accept online applications, that do not accept anything but basic information. How do I make myself stand out if the electronic form doesn't even accept a cover letter or a statement? Lily?

Ms. GARCIA: You try to connect with somebody in the organization. It's incredibly frustrating going through these Web sites because, of course, you look for the jobs online, you think you're just - the click of a button is going to be able to submit that canned resume that you already uploaded to Monster.com. And then lo and behold you're transferred to the company's Web site and have to fill out that profile all over again for every single company you apply for.

So, I'm very sorry. Stick with it. Make sure that you follow the established procedures the company has asked you to follow. As your guest from Southwest Airlines can attest, they have important reasons for wanting you to submit that information in their database. A lot of it has to do with compliance with affirmative action plans and some reporting that they have to do.

So you need to go through their normal system, but you can also go in sideways and get yourself noticed in other ways. You know, send a suitcase in with the interesting passport.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Julie Weber, is that good advice?

Ms. WEBER: That is great advice. And I know it is difficult because it seems impersonal being online. However, we are very diligent about going, you know, utilizing our tool and looking at our applicants who score highly. We do a lot of phone screening.

We are a little bit different - I don't want to encourage too many people - but when we do get that hard copy resume, we work really hard to try to respond to everyone and let them know how to go about being a candidate with us. When I get LinkedIn requests from people wanting to network, I, you know, I respond.

So, we may be a little bit different. We do want it to be a personal experience. There is a lot of competition for the positions and this is a really, really tough year. But I think that the basics still work and it is -it's being yourself.

CONAN: Julie Weber, who's senior director of people for Southwest Airlines. Also with us here in studio 3A, Lily Garcia, employment attorney and workplace issues expert who's the washingtonpost.com columnist on "How to Deal," surviving in the workplace.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

Alex is with us. Alex calling from Jackson, Michigan.

ALEX (Caller): Yes it is.

CONAN: Go ahead, please.

ALEX: How you doing? I was just going to tell you guys when I started looking for a job at 17, I had long hair a little bit past my shoulders, and I had been looking for jobs for probably two years and didn't get one until I was 19 and in my first year of college. And what worked for me was I had to cut my hair. It was like a form of discrimination you don't really hear about.

CONAN: Yeah. Well, the Five Man Electrical Band wrote all about that in Times, I think, yeah. Alex, are you doing the equivalent of getting a haircut these days? What is it?

ALEX: Yeah. I've been cutting my hair ever since that. It was kind of crazy. Like the first job that I applied for afterwards, after I had a haircut, I got the job immediately.

CONAN: Was it barber?

ALEX: Was it what?

CONAN: Did you become a barber?

ALEX: No.

CONAN: Okay.

ALEX: No, I work at a water store here in Jackson now.

CONAN: Okay. Well, Alex, good luck to you. And we hope you keep your barber busy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ALEX: Thank you very much.

CONAN: Bye-bye. And looks - as important today as they were then? It's funny to make jokes about long hair back in the '60s and '70s, but nevertheless…

Ms. GARCIA: Well, you do have to be aware that there are certain things that are going be turn-offs for 80 percent of employers. If you have a nose ring, it's probably a good idea to take it out for your interview.

CONAN: Unless it's at a tattoo parlor you're looking for…

Ms. GARCIA: Unless - right, same goes for tattoos. If you have visible tattoos, you know, wear a long sleeve shirt, cover them up for the interview. It's unfortunate, but yes, you do need to suppress certain forms of personal expression if you want to get into the mainstream and be noticed by the majority of conventional employers.

CONAN: And we just have a little time left. We've mentioned LinkedIn a lot. For those who are not familiar with it, what is it?

Ms. GARCIA: LinkedIn is an online professional networking site.

CONAN: And how do you find it?

Ms. GARCIA: LinkedIn.com.

CONAN: LinkedIn.com, all one word. And we were talking earlier with Julie Weber, senior director of people for Southwest Airlines. She says they use it sometimes to go out and look for people they may want to recruit for Southwest Airlines. So, a tool that a lot of people have written us about, including Liz in Deep River, Connecticut.

I found LinkedIn.com to be an incredibly valuable networking tool. It's like having your own Web site. I created a thumbnail of experiences shared, sample work and connected to many peers and colleagues. It's a little less social than other networking sites and that felt good to me. So that's someone who used it successfully. We'd like to thank Julie Weber for her time today. We appreciate it, Julie.

Ms. WEBER: Thank you.

CONAN: Julie Weber joined us today from the studios - from a studio in Dallas, Texas, where she works for Southwest Airlines as senior director of people. Our thanks, as well, to Lily Garcia, who's the washingtonpost.com columnist on "How to Deal," surviving in the workplace and a human resources consultant who joined us here in studio 3A. Thanks so much for your time today.

Ms. GARCIA: It was great to be here. Thank you.

CONAN: This last email from Chris Telford(ph) in Corning, New York. I applied for my current sign shop job at a grocery store by taking the application home and drawing fruits and vegetables all over it with a colored pencil. I was told I was the hands-down top candidate. They were impressed with my approach. My hubby's idea, a great one. So, creativity, there's always room for that.

Coming up, when we're going to come back from a short break, the dreaded thin envelope, as high school seniors open the good and bad news from college, we'll look at the continuum of rejection that is of rejection letters. What's the most interesting rejection letters you've ever received? Send us an email now, talk@npr.org, or get in the phone queue, 800-989-8255. Email, talk@npr.org.

Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.