The Ten Job Challenge - Part 1
By Tom Edwards, Editor-In-Chief, Buhner.com

    The concept was a simple one.  Find ten jobs, and make contact with the people to let them know that I was interested in the positions, and see what happens.  So simple, it had to work.

    The problem was finding ten jobs.  The job market (especially out east here) is thin, mainly looking for laborers and secre- er... administrative assistants with excellent typing skills.  Despite my typing ability (I type a lot faster than most people I know, including my wife), the jobs had to be something that wasn't too far removed from my job experience and education.  In addition, the location of the job had to be somewhat reasonable: a job in Montauk would be out of the question, seeing how morning eastbound traffic would make a Manhattan commuter cringe.

    Plus, financial concerns were there as well, along with potential longevity with the position.  I didn't want to take a job that I'd end up dropping immedately just because a better paying one came along or one that offered more security.  It's not fair to the people doing the hiring, and honestly, I have a lesser chance of getting a call from those because they know I'll bolt if the better offer comes.

    After Thursday's (7/24/03) Southampton Press came out and I skimmed over it, I realized that it would be possible to pull it off this week.  This week I would really find out... is it just me?

    THE JOBS (in no particular order):

    1) Assistant needed for busy office of the Children's Museum of the East End.  Applicant must me a detail oriented multi-tasker.  Strong computer skills and pleasant phone manner a must.  Year round.  Benefits.  No calls please.

    Actual job: "Assistant", whatever that means
    Actual company: The Childrens Museum of the East End
    Keywords: "detail oriented multi-tasker", "strong computer skills", "pleasant phone manner"
    Positives: Location (Bridgehampton, a less than 5 minute commute), benefits
    Negatives: Non-profit (I always feel bad taking money from not-for profit places), vague job description, possible heavy phone work
    Method of contact: Fax

    Not a bad position, possibly.  The commute would be great (zero traffic) and it doesn't seem like a bad place to work for.  Doing something positive (by helping to make the museum run well) for kids is always a plus.  We didn't have museums like that when I grew up in Bridgehampton.  However, I'm not necessarily sure when the position would start, and again, I'm not sure how much it would pay, although I'm assuming not that much, considering it is a museum, and they need their money to keep the place running moreso than to hire a guy with a college degree to answer their phones.

    2) Customer Service Representative - Conscientious, outgoing person with professional phone manner.  Must work well under pressure and take responsibility for own work in team atmosphere.  Office and computer experience.  Full time, some Saturdays.  Benefits.  References, relibility and positive attitude a must.

    Actual job: Customer Service Representative, apparently.
    Actual company: Pulver Gas (not listed in ad, phone number search)
    Keywords: "outgoing person", "professional phone manner", "work well under pressure", "must take responsibility for own work", "reliability and positive attitude a must"
    Positives: Location (Bridgehampton, see above), benefits
    Negatives: "some Saturdays", apparently pressure-filled job, underlying questions about position
    Method of contact: Fax

    When they made out this ad, it seems as if they were sending out a message to someone, possibly the former employee who filled the position.  When you spend half the ad making sure that the potential candidate is professional, the person who left must have left a pretty bad impression.  With words like "professional", "responsibility" and "reliability" peppering the ad and the request at the end for references just seem to imply that they really got burned the last time.  Plus, add onto that the "taking responsibility for own work" thing.  If you're really a customer service rep, all you're really doing is working with people, taking calls and dealing with the people who walk in, dealing with what they want, and hopefully giving it to them.  That's not something you can easily do and pass off on another person, so there's something else here.  Fishy, but it was better than most of the others ones in there.

    3) Immedate opening for a service oriented individual with good communication skills to join a small, Westhampton Beach company.  Ideal candidate will be computer literate, have some bookkeeping experience and a good telephone manner.  Service attitude and willingness to learn and have fun most important.  This job requires multitasking skills in a highly seasonal, fast paced environment.  Full paid family health benefits, vacation, holiday pay.  Salary commensurate with experience, but will train the right individual.

    Actual job: Considering the size of the company and description, I'll say there's a little bit of everything in there.
    Actual company: Malloy Air East, or Econo Car Westhampton Beach (both are listed for the phone number)
    Keywords: "service oriented", "small", "service attitude" (that's service twice), "highly seasonal", "fast paced"
    Positives: Actual outlined benefits (and good ones from the looks of things), small company, "have fun"
    Negatives: Possible commute time (Westhampton to Bridgehampton - 25 miles, albeit opposite of traffic flow), "bookkeeping experience" (of which, outside of home and college, I have none)
    Method of contact: Phone

    This one interested me.  Maybe I'm a sucker, but any job that lists "have fun" as being very important without making you wear dumbass outfits and pieces of flare sounds like it might be an interesting place to work.  When I called, I learned that the person whom I was talking to would be interviewing me, she was leaving soon, and already was living in North Carolina, but was being flown up to work for a few weeks at a time.  I'm assuming I'd be taking her job, so she can stop making possibly the worst commute ever.  The assumption I made from the tie I spoke to her was that she was probably doing anything not pilot or owner related with the company.  As it isn't that big of a company, it seems like it'd be interesting.  Plus, they seem to have the financial backing to support their employees, especially considering that the company would be going through the trouble to fly this girl from North Carolina to Long Island.  Also, when you look at the ad, you can tell that they care more about telling the applicant about the job and clearly speaking than trying to use as few words as possible.  That either means that they really take pride in what they do, or they have enough money to not worry about an extra few words of classified text.  Either way, a plus.

    4) Hamptons Telephone has openings for the following positions:

    CUSTOMER SERVICE/PROVISIONING - Both include aspects of telephone line ordering and customer care duties.  Must have computer literacy, accuracy, attention to detail and have good phone manner.  Salary, benefits.

    Actual job: Customer Service Rep
    Actual company: Hamptons Telephone
    Keywords: "telephone line ordering", "customer care", "accuracy", "attention to detail", "good phone manner".
    Positives: Dual company - Hamptons Telephone is an offshoot of Hamptons Online, which would also be a good job fit (chance for advancement).  Location (Southampton location would be close to both current and future residence).
    Negatives: Customer service usually implies a lot of phone time with customers, which I'm not crazy about.  Plus, I know nothing about telephones at all, except words go in one side and come out the other.
    Method of contact: email

    Hamptons Telephone is an interesting company, in that any local based company that actually offers local phone service and competes with the likes of Verizon has got to have high hopes and big dreams.  It's a small company, this much I do know, and usually small companies offer advantages that other companies might not to compensate for not being as competitive salary-wise.  The whole connection to Hamptons Online too is a major positive, as they are the only real local ISP out here, and offer a second opportunity to advance within the company.  Plus, I figured a resume sent there would kind of blanket any other opportunities that might be with the companies, whether or not they were listed yet.

    5) Office Administrator - The Southampton Press seeks an upbeat, highly organized self starter to manage accounts receivable in our Southampton Village office.  Primary responsibilities include billing, invoicing, collections, and fielding customer inquiries, but you will also help out with other tasks like answering phones and taking classified ads.  The ideal applicant will have a patient, professional telephone manner, be an accurate typist, and have excellent computer skills.

    Actual job: Bookkeeper/phone rep/utility office person
    Actual company: The Southampton Press newspaper
    Keywords: "upbeat", "self starter", "fielding customer inquiries", "also help out", "accurate typist"
    Positives: Location (Southampton again, see above), good looking benefits (the usual, including "profit sharing")
    Negatives: Lack of experience with "actual" things listed (I can type fast, but I'm not a "typist".  I know bookkeeping principals, but I don't have "experience".)  Phone time.  "Upbeat" (not that I'm an angry bastard at work, but I'm far from "perky".)
    Method of contact: email

    The thing that stuck out about this job to me (and not in a good way necessarily) is the hidden implication that there is no "down time" with the position.  I'm not necessarily a "lazy" person when it comes to work, but when I get my work done, or at least a good part of it done, I like to be able to ease up, to be able to take a little stress off.  This implies that when my work is complete, it will be my job to find other work, just so long as I keep busy.  I've personally never understood this work practice.  I mean, there's nothing wrong with helping out the office in an area where it's busy and you're done with your work, but to be pretty much told to take half of someone else's work that he/she may be doing fine with just because you're good at what you do is counterproductive.  Sure, the first few times, everyone's work gets done quickly.  Then, as time passes, the person who is getting their work shared has no incentive to actually finish their work (knowing that others will finish up) and the person who finishes their work early has no incentive to finish their work early because by finishing their work early, that invites more of a workload than what the "average" employee does over that period of time.  End result?  Both employees get lax in their work, productivity suffers, and a negative work environment can follow (one wonders why the other won't help, the other resents having to always help).  It seems relatively simple, but it's a practice that so many companies seem to follow.

    Example: I interviewed for Boulder Creek Steakhouse a while back, hoping to make at least some temp money as a server or bartender, and maybe weasel myself into a management-type position.  When I interviewed with the person conducting the interviews (whom I'll assume was a regional manager of some sort), he told me that since I had no food service experience, I would be best suited as a "Take Out Specialist".  While he attempted to sell me on the position (speaking of tips, because you know that you always tip the person who gives you your takeout meal), he let me know that during the downtime that I'd have from the "Take Out" position, I would be "helping out" with other aspects of the resturant, whether it be waiting tables, bussing tables, cleaning tables, or whatever might be found.  So, not only would my position be the lowest paid in the building, with no chance of tips, but I'd also be doing whatever possible to make sure I wasn't standing still.  Needless to say, I didn't go back for a second interview.

    Just... not too promising.  But, the ad had been in the paper for probably a month now, so I figured if I didn't give it a shot, it might be there forever.

    6) Property Manager - Full time.  Professional office seeks intellegent, motivated individual to handle Condo and Co-Op association management business.  Must be a dedicated, self-starter, computer literate, willing to work some Saturdays for board meetings.

    Actual job: Property manager - apparent truth in advertising there.
    Actual company: The Morley Agency, a small company dealing with real estate and insurance
    Keywords: "motivated", "management", "self-starter"
    Positives: Location (Southampton again, see above), interesting job (not like the rest in the group), doesn't seem overly stressful.
    Negatives: The actual job isn't totally clear, Saturdays
    Method of contact: email

    Not really that much to say about this job.  It was in the press for the first time when I responded to it.  The job, as I mention in the description, seems interesting enough, just because it doesn't seem like the typical "computer and paperwork" job that is what the others seem to be.  The problem lies in the fact that although it doesn't seem to be that, I'm not really sure what it is in the first place.  Managing property could mean anything from hiring people to maintain the property to actually being the person who maintains the property.  Are you like the super of an apartment building where you wait for complains and fix them, or is it a more paperwork-intensive position that involves dealing with property and the government, making sure future tenants have background checks and the like?  Anything's possible, as the ad doesn't go into any great detail.

    7) Administrative - East End System Integration company looking for administrative person with bookkeeping experience, typing, and organizational skills.

    Actual job: Sounds like a glorified secretary to me
    Actual company: SecureNet Systems Design Corp., specializing in home and business alarm systems
    Keywords: "organizational skills"
    Positives: Location (Southampton again, see above)
    Negatives: Glorified secretary position, vague
    Method of contact: fax

    There comes a point where the jobs become more of a stretch and along the lines of something just to fill out the required ten for the experiment.  This would be one of them.  The only thing that really set this job apart from the other administrative assistant positions was the type of ad it was.  Instead of a regular classifired ad, it was a graphicly made ad that stood out on the page, along with another ad with it looking for alarm installers.  The fax number was bolded and impressive, and brought attention to the ad that others might not have gotten.

    8) Sales (inside) - For American Teleconnect, a Southampton-based teleconferencing company, providing instant conferencing to the Fortune 1000.  Job responsibilities and qualifications include: strong cold calling skills, solid work ethic.  Ability to research/generate leads; PC proficiency.  Professional writing skills required for customer correspondence via Outlook.  Work in professional office environment with five other team members.

    Actual job: This screams "telemarketer".
    Actual company: American Teleconnect
    Keywords: "strong cold calling skills", "professional writing skills", "professional office environment"
    Positives: Location (Southampton again, see above), salary (see below)
    Negatives: A day on the phone making cold calls, facing constant rejection.  I'm married, I don't have to deal with that anymore.
    Method of contact: email

    Ordinarily, I wouldn't have touched this with a ten foot pole.  The position had been in the paper for over a month, and my thought was that they were extremely picky, or they just weren't a company that people wanted to work for.  The salary offered was listed in the ad, and it was impressive.  A first year salary of $45,000 was listed, with the possibility of $75,000 to $100,000 the second year depending on performance.  My thought would be that people would be falling all over this job.  Yet, there it sat, still in the paper a month later.  Even if the job wasn't for me (which I have a feeling it's not), I still had to see why this company hadn't hired anyone yet despite the riches it offered.  Plus, I had to see the company itself.  They seemed pretty major league, and only had a five person office.  Curiousity more than anything here.

    9) Program Examiner Trainee - An employee in this class performs studies of the effectiveness of government or agency operations in meeting programmatic and legal objectives.  The work involves policy analysis, budgetary review, management and operations research, program evaluation and comparative cost analysis.  Positions in this class differ from those in the budget, management and research titles in that the work is multidisciplinary in nature, requiring the application of the principles and techniques of each of these fields.  The incumbent is primarily responsible for analyzing the quality and costeffectiveness of government or agency service delivery, rather than the efficiency of internal administrative procedure.  Supervision is received from a professional or administrative supervisor, who evaluates performance through frequent consultation, conferences and review of oral and written reports.  Does related work as required.

    Actual job: Program Examiner Trainee (civil service)
    Actual company: Suffolk County Department of Health
    Keywords: "
    studies of the effectiveness of government"
    Positives: Compensation (over $37,000 for the first year, receiving a promotion after the first year to drop the "trainee part", which takes the position to over $40,000), benefits of a County job (such as pension)
    Negatives: Hellish commute (Hauppauge, which brings back memories of Reuters and the hour long commute), longer turnaround process to find out about the job and to interview, relatively unknown position.
    Method of contact: mail

    When trying to find two last jobs for the 10 Job Challenge, I got a letter from the Suffolk County Department of Health stating that my name came up on their civil service list and that they had an opening and wished to know if I wanted to interview for the position.  Having taken those tests over four months ago, I jumped at the opportunity, knowing that it was a good paying position and had good benefits.  I knew that the commute sucked, but at the same time, I had done it before, and it wouldn't be SO bad, considering the fact that I was seriously considering a position in Glen Cove, which would have been twice the distance from me than this position.  The job seemed interesting too, making sure that government policies and programs were running efficently and tax dollars weren't being wasted.  It seemed like I'd be doing something that would help, which is always a positive.  However, I didn't really know anything about the position outside of vague "government-ese" descriptions of the position.  The civil service test that I took didn't offer much insight either, as that pretty much tested my math and verbal skills, and probably could have been reused for several other positions.  Plus, with the 10 Job Challenge in effect, I knew that I would hear from jobs that I emailed and called long before I'd hear from this position to even interview for.  Oh well.  The only thing to do is to wait and see.

    10) Writer - Bridgehampton resident to be a contributor to the East Hampton Star.

    Actual job: Writer (of what, I'm not sure)
    Actual company: East Hampton Star newspaper
    Keywords: none - no fancy terminology here.
    Positives: Writing position, ability to probably be able to do the job with another full time job.
    Negatives: Uncertainity of actual job, not full time work
    Method of contact: fax

    Since I don't subscribe to the Star, I didn't find out about this position until late Monday, therefore putting me a few days behind anyone else going for the position.  The job offered $75 per week, so it couldn't be anything that would take a great deal of time.  I thought moreso it would be good to suppliment the income, and get writing experience for a local paper.  Since my resume doesn't list any real writing experience, I also faxed over the NCAA 2003 review, and noted in the cover letter my past writing for Hofstra's Chronicle.

    Well, those are the positions.  Ten jobs.  Ten resumes.  What does a guy who's been out of work for over a year with a college degree get in terms of callbacks?  We'll see in part two.

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