Today I’ve been tending indirectly to my eBay store again. I write about this work in hopes that Hiring Managers will realize the following about me as a job candidate: She’s resourceful! Flexible! And she knows the ins and outs of what drives all businesses—sales!
Tending to the store over the last five years has taught me a lot about being resourceful while money’s tight and how to suavely and honestly handle customers’ questions to ensure their satisfaction. Another area that I’ve improved immensely has been an understanding of what’s likely to sell and what likely won’t.
Clothes are painfully slow to move on eBay and after eBay’s 10% Final Value Fee and PayPal’s 3+% fee it’s almost not worth the effort of listing the items. So today I decided to go to a consignment store in downtown Philadelphia and see what cash I could net for some in-season, minimally worn items.
My mother gathered the 20+ garments into two huge plastic bags and hung them behind me on my wheelchair.
‘You look like a bag lady.’
‘I don’t care what I look like. If I save some time, lessen this load and make some money I’ll be happy.’
And with that determination I was off down the hill and onto the next train into town. I made my way to the consignment store and waited in the line for sellers that wrapped around the full front of the store.
When it was finally my turn to have my items inspected I pulled up and one of the two store reps at the register unloaded the clothes on the counter while the other asked for my phone number and ID. With a swiftness and quiet aloofness that proved they’ve done this many times before, they lifted each item, held it up in front of them, partially re-folded it and placed it back down on the counter. After the third or fourth item I noticed how quickly they did this whole mini-evaluation.
I started to count in my head the seconds it took to complete and came to approximately 8 seconds. What were their criteria? What made them decide to go with only the four items that they finally chose?
I asked them, ‘What kind of items do you think sell the most?’
‘Oh, just clothes that are in-season. We like things with unusual patterns like this shirt here,’ replied one of the store reps with stretched ear lobes and a septum nose ring.
But all the items I brought were ‘in-season’ and only one of the pieces they chose had a pattern on it. They must be going by some other unspoken, seemingly subjective criteria.
I realized a few hours later after trudging nearly all of the items back home that this 8 second scan wasn’t unlike what recruiters do with hundreds and sometimes thousands of candidates they evaluate every year.
At the company I was last employed, I often worked directly with recruiters. For six months I sat next to them and saw their evaluation process for positions that ranged from entry level to executive management. So many of them relied on LinkedIn (make sure your profile is up to date!) and they’d perform the same super fast scan.
Occasionally I’d ask, ‘Why are you passing on that person?’
‘Eh, I don’t get the sense he’d fit with our culture.’
You got that from a 30 second scan?, I’d internally wonder.
Not all of the recruiters were so dismissive. Some were consummate professionals who were exceedingly methodical and thoughtful in their approach. They demonstrated great emotional intelligence as they consistently and delicately communicated updates to job candidates, which often included rejections--not everyone gets the job after all.
In the harsh world of job hunting, companies—particularly Human Resources departments—can truly stand out from the crowd and in turn attract the great talent they so desperately seek by showing more of their humanity to all job candidates.
It makes us feel less like that perfectly good cashmere sweater cast off for some unknown reason.