COLUMN:Hot pink – the key to finding a job

Tim Paluch

When this semester comes to a close, I’ll be a senior. With this senior status comes a lot of new responsibilities. First things first, I’ll have to start planning my graduation party. DJ or cover band? Disco ball or strobe light? Not easy decisions, especially considering that everyone’s expecting “Paluchmania 2002” to turn out better than “Paluchmania 1998,” my notorious high school graduation debacle. Let’s just say all the other kids must have been busy that afternoon.

In addition to planning my graduation extravaganza, I also have to start looking for a job. In the journalism college, an internship is required to graduate. An internship puts you ahead of other prospective employers once it comes time to look for that first full-time job.

Most prospective employees look first to career fairs, those ever-important events where you drop $300 on a new suit, spend hours putting the finishing touches on your cover letter and resume, and then pack into an enormous room to wait in line to fill your bag with keychains, water bottles and ball point pens. Nothing good ever comes out of career fairs, although I am still using my Lockheed Martin mousepad.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a single documented case where an actual “career” was spawned from a two-and-a-half-minute inaudible conversation at a career fair booth. So don’t waste your time.

Instead, I recommend taking my advice when it comes to job or internship searching.

Now I have a pretty good idea what most of you are thinking – “Why should I listen to you?” After all, I am just a lowly opinion editor at a college newspaper. But, following these sure-fire tactics I’ve managed to be offered a summer internship at both the Washington Post and the New York Times. Apparently they’re hard up for help in the mail room, and they seem to think I’m just the man for the job.

The first thing your future employer will see is your cover letter. When it comes to creating a good cover letter, one word comes to mind – originality. And nothing says “regional sales manager” like hot pink. If I’m an employer who’s used to stacks of white and marble paper, I’m reaching for that bright neon one.

The purpose of a cover letter is not to highlight your work experiences or stimulate interest, as you may have been told in the past. A cover letter is nothing more than a self-promoting ego-fest; its sole purpose is to give yourself an advantage over similar prospective employees.

For instance, “opinion editor of the Iowa State Daily” looks all right. But “opinion editor of the Iowa State Daily who makes a mean spicy tuna tartare” is going to raise some eyebrows.

Know all the words to R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”? Let `em know.

Wondering if your macram‚ talents are worth mentioning? Put it in; it couldn’t hurt.

Once the employer gets a look at that pink cover letter, odds are you’re getting an interview, and the job interview is the most important part of the entire job-searching process.

The most essential part of the interview is exuding a sense of confidence. You are going to get some standard questions – “What is your worst quality?” “What traits do you need work on?” Humility here is frowned upon. Tell them “you can’t get me out of the office.” Or, “once I start working I never want to leave.”

Then when you’re asked, “What makes you good for this job?”, put your feet on the desk, lean back in your chair and snap back, “I think the real question is `what doesn’t make me good for this job?'” Stress the “doesn’t.” Then start whistling “Bad to the bone.”

If that doesn’t immediately land you in middle management, chances are you’re never getting a job. Or your pink wasn’t bright enough. But don’t despair – I’ve got one last tip in case you missed a couple of steps along the way. Just send them a letter similar to this:

Dear sir or madam,

Thank you for your quick, almost immediate, response to my job application. Your reasons for denial were exemplary and most noteworthy. Unfortunately, due to the large influx of similar responses from comparable companies, at this time I regret to inform you that I’m not able to accept your rejection. Expect me first thing in the morning Monday.

Then show up with a chocolate cr‚me brulee. They couldn’t say no.

Tim Paluch is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Orland Park, Ill. He is opinion editor of the Daily.