I was fired back in 1973 or thereabouts and I set out to get another job just a few days later. I scanned the paper for want ads. Back in the old days that's where jobs were posted and people would actually circle the ones they thought they were qualified to do. Then a call would be placed to set up an appointment and hopefully an interview would be set for the same visit. I would make at least 3 calls each time so that I could have a day of dressing just
right, make-up just right, hair just right, shoes just right and off I'd go after depositing the kids with their sitter.
Dressing just right meant, a business suit of navy or black with a white or light pink or blue blouse. Make-up very lightly applied, but definitely there and the hair would be fresh and not too big. Shoes for an interview were navy or black plain heels of no more than 3 inches with nylons, even in the summer with bronzed brown legs, nylons were required. Jewelry would be minimal. A small pendant if the blouse didn't come to the neck or a string of matching beads under the collar, if it did. I never went to an interview in anything else other than the occasional navy dress instead of the suit. It was the appropriate attire for interviewing.
I arrived at every interview 15 minutes early. I knew the company I was interviewing with. I tried to know what the exact job was, I didn't always know. I would fill out the application, have the appropriate identification ready and then sit straight and tall until my name was called for the interview. I almost always got the interview. Often I had to take typing tests. I could type about 70 words a minute error free. I could type 90 words a minute, but the errors would jump in then. Most of the tests did not allow corrections. In those days corrections meant erasing or white out, both took too much time and you would fail the required number of words if you tried it anyway. I never failed a typing test.
Face to face interviews I thought were my strong point. I always felt like I had the job when I left. I felt that way for the first month. That would be a total of about 25 interviews. I thought I aced every one of them. No one was hiring me. No one was calling me back, I had to call every one of those companies to see if the position had been filled. It always had been filled and no explanation was given even when I asked, why I had been passed over. One woman told me that there were other candidates that were more qualified. I knew that wasn't the case because the job was for a file clerk and I had several years experience at that and knew everything about the company I was applying with and that job should have been mine. I began to get a bit of an attitude.
I believe the next several interviews I blew. I think I had lost all confidence and of course, that shows when one is being interviewed. If you don't believe in yourself, this person who is just now meeting you isn't likely to believe in you either. I took a week off. No interviews. I decided to look, instead of for A job, MY job. A job no one could do better than I and maybe something where I could even advance in time. A job with a future became my goal. New confidence bloomed as I searched the paper now with a plan and determined to find MY job.
I was strangely attracted to a job listing which I ordinarily wouldn't have thought my qualifications fit, but somehow, this one felt right to me. I circled it and did something else I hadn't done before. I stopped looking. I made the call. I had the appointment and it included the interview with the district manager they informed me. I say they, because I actually talked with two different people.
One was the receptionist, very pleasant an d well informed and then the office temporary manager who would not be there for the interview because the district manager would be covering that day.
The job I was applying for was the Office Manager for a propane company.
This interview went so well that I can't even remember one thing that I hesitated about or one moment when my interviewer seemed not to be totally into starting me on this very day. I had this job. I knew it. He told me the interviews were over and that he had to make some calls and check references and then I would hear from him, not someone, HIM in about 3 days. I left and he actually said as I left the building, "See you next week?" I smiled back at him and said, "Great."
He called me in two days. He said he was sorry but I didn't get the job. I nearly cried. I was so disappointed. This was MY job. I knew it was.
I said, "Can I ask why?"
He said, "I hoped you would. One of your references is saying a good many unkind and I suspect untrue things about you. Our reference checker wrote down his name and everything he said and we think you could possibly have a law suit. I'll send you her name, number and a copy of her notes, if you'd like them."
"If you think he's lying, and he is, why not hire me anyway?"
"I work for a huge corporation, as you know and I am not a big enough cheese to jump over these kinds of statements. They would fire me, for sure. He has stated that you were habitually late and left early often. You didn't have any friends or even try to be social with your co-workers. That you never got things right the first time and they were just unable to afford your mistakes. He was not accusing you of stealing, but said your drawer never balanced. These are all big things to this company and most others, I imagine. He has these things written somewhere because our gal said he just rattled them off one after the other as though, her words here, 'he had done this many times' and I think he has."
I was now in tears. These things were coming from the man who fired me for not staying after work and dinner and desert with him. The same a$$hole that propositioned me was now keeping me from working at all. In those days, I was basically helpless to fight this man. I couldn't afford an attorney and there were no free ones then unless you had been arrested. I'd have to assault him and get arrested to get representation. I considered that for a moment or ten.
"So, what am I going to do? I have to find a job and soon. I can't just keep paying someone to watch my kids while I interview. I'm pretty good at it, but it doesn't pay. I feel like a professional applicant. What am I going to do?"
He listened and then said the simplest thing to me. "Jo, forget you ever knew this man and that you ever had this job. It was only 2 years and with little ones, simply imply that you stayed home for a while and now need to work again. It's far better than having this jerk spewing his venom."
"Thank you Mr. Whatever, you've been a blessing to me. I never would have known. I really appreciate your telling me and also your advice. I think I'll take it."
I did and I got the next job for which I applied and I have never forgotten what a Godsend this man was to me. We needed for me to have an income and for 6 weeks I was out there practically begging for any job at all.
Words are so powerful. Sure what you wear matters when interviewing. What you look like in terms of professional behavior and make-up and hair and jewelry and shoes, all of that matters, but not more than the words you say and the words that are said about you when the references are checked.
Retirement is a very good thing. I don't want to interview again, really I don't.