Diamonds in the rough

Diamonds in the rough

Contributed by 4CTechnologies Director of Strategic Planning, Kathy Olek

If you are a recent grad looking for a job in marketing, listen up. I have been working in the creative and communications industry for over thirty years. (OK, yuk yuk, enough with the elderly jokes…) At some point in time, maybe about ten years ago, working in this industry became less about doing a great job…and more about showing others how to do a great job. I don’t know quite how it happened. I just know that these days, I equally enjoy seeing an “ah-ha” look of understanding on the face of a team member as I do developing dynamite outreach programs that benefit our growing client base.

I say this because at the root of my being, I’m a giver. It’s all about turning good employees into great ones and individual strengths into teaming relationships. But over the years, I have come to realize that in order to build a masterpiece, there has to be a strong foundation of business ethics and a willingness to learn. During the new employee interview process, it’s sometimes hard to find those “diamonds in the rough” – those gems that have a sense of dedication, an appreciation of hard work and the entire package of goods that will help them succeed in business in spite of themselves.

The issue is that no matter how much technology and electronic connectivity is available in the workplace, the basics of the “job interview” has changed very little over the years. No question, good paying marketing jobs are hard to find. First impressions are still important, as well as preparation, physical appearance, enthusiasm and follow up. So I thought I’d share with you my personal list of the top ten things you should never do on a first interview. Take heed, because unfortunately, these are all based on real and painful business experiences that I have garnered over the past several years:


10. Fail to call back in a timely manner in scheduling the interview.
9. Show up late for the interview or ask the receptionist to come find you because you are lost
8. Sit slumped and back in the chair — as if preparing to nap
7. Bring your mother, father or sibling with you and expect them to sit in
6. Ask questions about salary or vacation time at the first interview
5. Mispronounce the name of the company
4. Wear a shirt cut down to there or a skirt up to here
3. Misspell anything in your resume, portfolio or internship samples
2. Tell us you really don’t have any questions
1. Text or answer your phone during the interview

From where I sit across the table, the decision to bring you back for the next round of interviews is made in the first five minutes of the meeting. I can tell you from experience that I personally deduct points from the overall interview score for any of these presentation atrocities, making it less likely that you will be called back to meet with others in management.

When it comes right down to it, the unwritten rules are simple. You learned them in Kindergarten and from your parents. Be respectful. Presentable. Enthusiastic. Ask questions. Share stories. Be engaging. Say please and thank you. For this year’s crop of students from the graduating class of 2013 who are still searching for their first job, I hope you find this information valuable — from the “old gal who is still old school” when it comes to finding a “gem” of a team player.

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