Things have been a bit hectic for me lately. Along with a very busy summer, school starting this week, and my next book being prepped to go to my editor, I have been hunting for a new administrative assistant. I’ve learned so much at every step of this process and been surprised, in ways both good and bad. I have met some wonderful people and enjoyed getting to know them. But I’ve also seen some things that have me wondering about the state of our nation’s unemployment issues. Perhaps the problem is with the job-seekers and not the industry.
I began searching for an assistant about two years ago, and I did it all wrong. I hired, first, a family member, then, a close friend, and then friend of the family. We all had the best of intentions, and things started out great in all cases, but it’s tough employing someone you value as a family member or friend. It’s not easy telling them that they need to be more on top of things or more accessible. I found it, not only difficult but, exhausting. So, Ken and I decided that I needed to love my friends and family but employee someone not connected to us in any way.
Not knowing where or how to start in today’s modern world, I asked my daughter, a recent college grad, what I should do. Most of her friends are just entering the job market, and she had some great advice. I put an ad on LinkedIn and on Indeed.com (which I had never heard of before). Literally, within minutes, the applications started rolling in, so many that I had to end both ads in under 24 hours. I had almost 200 applications already! Feeling overwhelmed, I had no idea how to weed through them until I began opening the emails.
The vast majority of the applications were nothing more than an instant email generated by somebody simply pushing the “Apply for Job” button. There was nothing in the email that made me want to look any farther. Those were immediately deleted. There were several that contained an introduction or mini resume. Most of these were addressed to: “Human Resources Officer” or “Sir or Madam.” Some had no addressee at all. The introductions were canned, offered no insight into the person, and made it clear that this applicant simply cut and pasted his or her standard intro. They knew nothing about me, or my writing, and presumably didn’t care.
Then there were the few that stood out: “Dear Amy” or “Dear Mrs. Schisler,” they read. “I have always wanted to be a writer,” “I would love to work for an author,” “I am a fan of yours and have read your books,” “I’m a long-time follower of your blog.” Those were the ones that stood out. Those were the ones which were flagged. Honest or not, they had my attention.
But the ones who were granted interviews were the ones who reached out. Five people sent me a personal email as a follow-up, introducing themselves and letting me know why they wanted the position. According to Glassdoor, quoted in a recent Inc. Magazine article, those numbers are pretty on target, “On average, every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes, but only 4 to 6 of these people will be called for an interview, and only 1 of those will be offered a job.” In my interviews, the job applicants inquired about more details, attached resumes, or gave me reasons as to why we would work well together.
I recently had a conversation with a cousin, who does both professional interviews and service academy interviews. He told me that he is amazed by the amount of potential employees who want to know what this job will do for them (salary, benefits, perks) without ever offering what they have to offer for the good of the company. While I was happy to discuss what I could do to help these women (many men applied, but only women went the extra mile), I loved hearing them list the ways they could assist me before inquiring about what I might be able to do for them. They knew who I was, looked into my work, assessed my needs, and told me why they would be the perfect assistants for me.
I’m making my final decision tonight. I’m in a hurry to hire someone because I have a lot on my plate in the coming months – a children’s book coming out later this month, a new novel being released just before Christmas, a book launch to plan, several trips to visit book clubs who have read my books, and work on a new collaboration with Anne and Susan of the Y’all Need Jesus Blog. It’s going to be a busy fall, and I feel confident that one of the finalists in this whole process will do a wonderful job. As far as all the other applicants, I wish them all the best. I’m not sure that will get them very far.
What I was writing about one year ago this week: Parent Orientation – Loving our Kids Before it’s Too Late.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.