Advice for the Job Forlorn

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58 Responses

  1. Observer says:

    Daniel Rubin makes extremely important points. I would point out, however, that the “indistinct” degrees is really not the big issue, since many, many employers really don’t care very much about which degree you have, as long as you exhibit a decent intelligence level by gaining any degree. The issue of sloppy resumes and lack of “soft skills” is the real key. It makes no difference what degrees you have if your resume is not a good sales piece or your social skills are not up to par.

    I’ve been involved in the hiring process on more than one job, as well as being in contact with a number of job placement people and this is a HUGE issue. I once watched a young man sit through an interview without once looking straight at his interviewer, who happened to be female. Who is going to hire this guy?! When dealing with slightly higher end jobs – the kind that requires a degree – I’m not sure whether it’s worse to have no email or an email address that makes them look childish or like they are hiding something. Stick to some permutation of [email protected], and skip the cutesy stuff. And, if you are sending a resume, make sure that the file name you use isn’t juvenile. I recently horrified one of the job developers I work with by forwarding a resume titled “momysreseume”. She’s a mother herself, but her first reaction was “I don’t believe it!” and she was seriously considering using this as an example to her clients of what NOT to do. Then you get the people who have an attitude of some sort – they come of as superior, totally apathetic, with a chip on their shoulder, or having unrealistic expectations. It doesn’t make a difference how good your qualifications are if these issues are present – you simply are NOT going to get past the first cut.

    In all fairness, it must be said that this is not a problem unique to guy coming out of Yeshiva or Kollel or the frum community. But, to be honest, at this point the rest of the world is not my problem. The Frum community most definitely is. And so, I hope that someone gets this message through to the places it really needs to go – not cross current readers who almost certainly have it a bit more together, but the masses of young, and not so young, people going out into the job market totally unprepared for this new stage in their lives.

  2. lacosta says:

    i would love to know what kind of irrelevant and useless degrees are being referred to….

  3. Raymond says:

    I only wish I had learned and deeply internalized the above wonderful and useful advise, straight out of high school. I would have saved so many years that I instead wasted, and would have been at such a better place in my life than I am.

    Another author that has lately also had an impact on bringing my thinking more down to Earth, of seeing life as it is rather than what one might wish it to be, is Economics Professor Thomas Sowell. He brings so many issues of the day into the framework of good old common sense. That Talmudic expression, “If somebody tells you there is wisdom among the gentiles, you can believe them,” definitely applies to this common sense intellectual.

  4. joel rich says:

    lacosta-BTL(talmudic law)
    KT

  5. Ori says:

    How much exposure to the job market does the average Yeshiva student get? How much exposure to general gentile society? If you isolate teenagers from adult society, how will they learn to function in it?

    This isn’t limited to charedi society, BTW. The same problem applies in gentile society, with high school students spending most of their time with high school students and very little doing adult things with adult responsibilities.

  6. joel rich says:

    I can confirm most of what R’ Rubin writes. 2 additional points – 1.perhaps R’ Rubin should be on the agenda at an Agudah convention etc. as it is my observation that the boys(and girls) need to get this hadracha(guidance) from their spiritual advisors as they set out into the land of tumah (actually I’d suggest getting it from those who have been in-country already but iiuc these sources are viewed by them askance)
    2.Shimon ben Shetach once purchased a donkey. The original owner had neglected to check the saddlebag before he made the sale, and inadvertently left diamonds in the bag. When they discovered the treasure, Shimon ben Shetach’s students were exuberant, for now, they were certain, their teacher would be able to teach Torah without the constant financial worries that had been plaguing him. Shimon ben Shetach did not join in their excitement though. “Do you think I am a barbarian?” he exclaimed “I bought a donkey, not diamonds!” He promptly returned the diamonds. When the owner received them he cried out, “Blessed is the God of Shimon ben Shetach!”. To me their job description includes that after working with them their internal and external clients should say “blessed….”

    [YA – Isn’t your last line a near-perfect paraphrase of R Shamshon Raphael Hirsch’s view of Torah im Derech Eretz applied to the workplace?]

  7. Bob Miller says:

    Universities regard placement of their graduates in jobs as one of their primary goals. As a result, they offer resources to prepare the near-graduate for entry into and functioning within the work world. That would include advice on resume preparation, interview etiquette, and the like.

    So I wonder where our Jewish applicants described in this article are missing the boat. Is it that their educational institutions view placement and associated personal skills as outside their responsibility, is it that the students don’t take advantage of available placement-related services, or what?

  8. mb says:

    I think the inability of many job seekers from the Yeshiva world to coherently string a few sentences together in English is a huge problem.

  9. Big Maybe says:

    I want to add another helpful fact with which I have personal experience. Many people exiting Kolel and entering the job market possess superior intelligence and feel (rightly so) that this will give them an advantage in the interview process. However, they are unfamiliar with what is considered an acceptable attitude in the secular world.

    Certain ways of speaking and presenting yourself considered acceptable when dealing with other Yeshiva guys, are viewed as insufferable arrogance in the secular world.

    I am indebted to the interviewer from many, many years ago, at the very beginning of my job search, who took the trouble to explain to me exactly why I was not being considered for the position, despite the fact that he had no doubt that I can do the job. “You came across as an arrogant jerk,” he said. “Every question you answered included the message that the interviewer was so stupid as to even consider this a valid question.” I acted as though the whole interview was unnecessary, can’t you see already that I’m the right man for this job?

    It hurt me to hear it, but I underwent a total transformation of how I speak and portray my skills. I nailed my very next interview with my new attitude.

  10. Michoel says:

    The advice, while generally accurate, is not going to the root of the issue. The writer is saying don’t “act” like a shlamazel. He needs to say don’t “be” a shlamazel. Cutesy resumes and acting like the entire world is “heimish” are symptoms of a failure to make yeshiva guys into an ISH. I, like the writer, am a pretty frum person so please don’t pummel me from the right. We cannot have yeshivos where people can come late to seder and then be stumped when they are not hardened enough to make it in a workplace where one cannot just wander in late. And a personality that thinks its ok to wander in late will be identified way before a job is offered. The really solid guys that had internal discipline generally will find a way to adjust. But they are not the ones looking for work, most often, because they became cheder rebbes etc. We don’t need to start pushing people to go to college or even to start thinking about parnassa earlier. But we do need to restore the stress on self-sufficiency as a character trait. And from that will come the decisiveness and strength to make the correct choices for oneself with confidence. A person with a ridiculous email address is still on handout mode, whether they realize it or not. And that is what needs correction.

  11. The Contarian says:

    There are many employment websites that send out periodoc do’s and don’ts for prospective job seekers. It is a good idea to sign up for them.

    Ir’s tough out there. It is a buyer’s market.

    Human beings are most comfortable around people like themselves. and will so hire. Given 2 equally qualified candidates, they will not choose the “Other”. Secondly, religious people give them the willies. They feel that they will have to cut out swearing, foul language, etc if they hire the religious.

    Some radical ideas to get around the above. Ask your LOR.

    Use your “secular” full first name rather than a nickname or a Hebrew one. If you do not, HR departments with hundreds of applications for a single position will weed out your resumes with a foreign sounding name on the firat pass.

    An employment expert wrote that you should only wear a beard if you are interviewing to become an Orthodox Rabbi, otherwsie shave it off.

    Wear a toupee, if you must have a head covering. Better still, go bare-headed.

  12. Rafael Guber says:

    As the reality of life in 2010 is finally setting in. Some of my friends and relatives are beginning to realize that not all five of their sons will find rich father-in-laws so that they can sit in Kollel forever.

    Maybe Der Abischter has decided that we need to meet this challenge with professionalism, anivus and the hishtadlus to work for a living and to gain the professional and social skills needed to do so. This does not necessarily reduce us make us less capable of being true Shomrei Torah Mitzvos.

    Certainly in some cases, the opposite may be true.

    Kol Tuv

    Rafael Guber

  13. Tzei U'lmad says:

    There is a prevalent idea/indoctrination/mythology? that our boys can skip large gaps in preparation for the work force because their BTS will give them a flexibility and suppleness of mind that will catapult them to the top of grad schools (particularly law). This article just begins to hint that they are not prepared “to work”, for the tediousness of holding down a job or, for example, having to ask for a sale (when some have become used to being subsidized without having to ask). Bravo for airing such an important issue.

  14. The Contarian says:

    It may be true that graduates of the yeshivah system lack maturity but that may not be solely because of what is taught or not taught in yeshivas.

    It seems to be a world wide phenomenon affecting all 20-30 year olds. Tha author of the post above may be ubwittingly expressing geneational frustrations

    From a 2006 article by Edna Price
    _________________________________________________________________
    A new age of immaturity
    Once regarded as a Generation-X anomaly, social scientists and news publications around the world now observe a frightening trend in young adults: a marked failure to leave home, find a career, attain what most regard as “adulthood”. The reported lack of maturity manifests itself not just in observation, but in real-world statistics: the percentage of 26-year-olds that live with their parents has nearly doubled since 1970, from 11% to 20% according to a University of Michigan study. The average college experience now takes five years, not four. This new agegroup of immature adults has a variety of names around the world- boomerang kids(Canada), nest-squatter(Germany), adultescents (a few US social scientists), and so on. Japan’s parliament even staged a debate on the disturbing reliance of today’s 20-somethings on their parents. But in some ways, this trend follows historical example.

  15. Michoel Halberstam says:

    As usual your observation are not only correct, but they confirm what most people believe, even those who pretend they don’t for whatever reason. Our society however, appears deeply committed to promote belief in what makes no sense to us, in the hope that somehow this is a way to serve HKBH. Therefore, you can expect to hear very soon that what you say is an attack on religion, the authority of the Torah , the Gedolim, etc. Secehel Hayoshor is one of the greates gifts we have been given. We corrupt it at our peril

  16. Dr. R says:

    Regarding comment 2 (useless degrees), many are not useless as much as stepping stones to particular career paths but the student should learn enough about this before they begin to accumulate credits toward that degree. I specifically want to address the life science industry, since I mentor so many aspiring scientists, engineers, developers and others interested in pharma and medical device careers, where I have been part of executive or scientific management for the past 5 years.

    In the life sciences, biology, microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and other like degrees don’t qualify you for much until and unless you take additional steps to gain experience or position yourself for particular roles. Are you interested in bench research? clinical trial coordination? data management? bioIT? scientific communications? Chances are, the student won’t know unless they have taken additional steps to figure out what role they are most interested in and why. Informational interviews are invaluable. I direct the reader to the “Interviews for Dummies” book chapter on informational interviews. Sometimes, the most valuable next step is just landing a first job doing anything in the field and using it as a launching pad for a concerted professional networking effort to find out interesting and viable career paths within or tangentially related to a particular field.

    Yet I have noticed the trend for students to rush from Bio BS to MS without taking the time to explore exactly what they want to focus their careers on and eventually find out their Masters was a waste of time, could have accomplished the same result with only a certificate/certification or real world experience. I don’t know if that makes the degree “worthless” because all knowledge is intrinsically valuable, but the time and expense certainly could have been spared. Nevertheless, in mentoring young frum women, when I suggest that a year or two be spent gaining some experience before pursuing graduate work, it is often met with significant resistance. The girls aren’t interested in the entry level positions open to them with just a Bachelors. They want “dream jobs” doing “fascinating work” with high salaries and flexible schedules (ideally, part time). I am hard pressed to get them to comprehend that a MS with no experience qualifies them almost precisely for the same roles at the same level (salary, hierarchy) as a BS with no experience. Almost invariably, their mothers, too, balk at the idea of their daughters taking a year or two to work and gain real world experience rather than pursue their MS, which they also believe will catapult them into management level and six figure incomes. Their rationale is “let them do it (get their MS) now before they have additional responsibilities of husband and/or children (and we are footing the bill?).”

    While I can see merit in the concept, it is fallacious. Few things beat experience and I have never seen a MS (or even a PhD) catapult one into the manager’s seat straight out of graduate school. For the life sciences field, the best advice I still have after 20 years of mentoring others is to take the time to work before continuing with graduate studies, unless the student is one of those who is passionate about a life of bench research or is getting advanced training in a very specific technique to focus on(eg: karyotyping, mass spectrometry, fluorescent/confocal microscopy or imaging). At the very least, work experience can help one determine benefits or disadvantages of a particular role, can enlarge a network to the point of being able to accumulate a contact list for further targeted assessment of alternative careers in scientific fields or industries, understand the hierarchy of the lab, processes and policies governing the research endeavor, regulatory environment, industry or academic-specific infrastructures and trends within these. In addition, we are all competing against others who have the same degrees from the same, if not better, institutions. Unlike many of our young folk, who spent their formative years in summer camps and seminary or yeshiva, many (and the trend is that most) others have significant research experience from summer internships, academic/industrial cooperatives or work study programs, some starting as early as their freshman year. Given 2 candidates where all else is equal, I would hire, and have hired, an employee with summer’s experience as a pre-bac at the NIH over a stint as a volunteer at the local hospital or counselor at summer camp and the like. Technical skills, independent judgment and analytic acumen, after all, can only be gained one way: with experience.

  17. joel rich says:

    [YA – Isn’t your last line a near-perfect paraphrase of R Shamshon Raphael Hirsch’s view of Torah im Derech Eretz applied to the workplace?]
    ==================
    If it is- baruch shekivanti (thanks to HKB”H for allowing me -through terrific parents and teachers- to have paraphrased R’ Hirsch)

    BTW I found the dual program at MTA and YU to be the best preparation for living in the outside world as a committed Jew – while my hiring class was used to college lifestyle, I was used to squeezing responsibilities into a limited timeframe.
    KT

  18. Dr. R says:

    Another idea that someone is espousing to our yeshiva bochurim is that they should not worry about their delayed educations or entry into the professional world because they are superior to their non-yeshiva peers thanks to their years of gemara training. I don’t doubt that many are incredibly brilliant. I do doubt they ALL are. In either case, it doesn’t matter what kind of gemara “kop” one has, no one is doing brain surgery or labeling cells in vitro with 10 mCi of 32P, let alone operate or prepare the equipment and reagents to do so, without adequate training. Such training (read: experience) still takes time and effort. Just realize that starting such arduous training at age 25, 30, 35 means that a lot of ground has to be covered before one catches up to age-matched peers, if ever. It doesn’t mean it is wrong or a bad idea, just important to realize from financial, personal, social and professional development perspectives.

  19. jr says:

    While the lack of skills and a relevant degree are evident to all as the result of the Yeshivish educational system, the first problem that needs to be addressed is the appalling lack of social skills in the young (and not so young) people in our frum communities. I work at a hospital about 20 minutes north of Lakewood and the interactions I have witnessed between the patients and the staff fall into 2 categories: 1) scared and very immature and unprepared to deal with real world issues, but sweet and appreciative and 2)condescending and outright rude, with the “rules are not for me and I am better than you attitude.” I can only attribute #2 to an upbringing and education which not only lacks any interaction with “the other” but which actively believes that the self is both innately and otherwise superior to everyone else. Unfortunately, this is a natural result of some communities self “ghetto-ization” and the denigration of everything foreign. This will invariably result in the problems described by the author above, as well as the fear of working because of the inevitability of the discovery that what one was taught was false, and what could result from that.

  20. Bob Miller says:

    Since people outside our group are able to sense exactly what we think of them, we need to consider what we think of them and make the necessary internal corrections.

  21. Eli says:

    I will add that many applicants today already have experience via internships, and most HR depts will hire someone with an internship over someone without. There is no reason why a job seeker can not ask the “frum network” to get an unpaid internship (even in a “heimishe” company) in the area which he or she wants to go into.

  22. Zadok says:

    Identifying yourself as an Orthodox Jew (or a member of any other religious or ethnic group, for that matter) is not to your advantage. It is not wise to encourage the reader to believe you are different than the rest of the world and may have special needs. Either make an accomplishment religiously neutral or exclude it.

    Assuming an employer is unwilling to consider an Orthodox Jew with special needs, what would be the point of going for an interview with him altogether?Advertising or stressing oneself as an Orthodox Jew can make one look like a proselytizer, but what would be the point of hiding something like an undergraduate Yeshiva degree?He’ll find out anyhow.

  23. Danny Schoemann says:

    I can confirm most of what R’ Rubin writes. I would like to add another data point.

    Many a frum person was not hired by us because of the shocked reaction he displayed when he discovered that the work day is 9 hours long – and no possibility of a 1 – 4 lunch break.

  24. Dovid says:

    There are some comments in this thread that indicate that a person should somehow obfuscate or out-and-out hide the fact they are an Orthodox Jew when applying for a position.

    I strongly disagree with this approach. As an Orthodox Jew you are going to need special treatment from your employer not matter what. You are going ot need Shabbos and Yom Tov off work. You are not going to be able to eat and socialize with your co-workers the way others will. Hiding this up front doesn’t do any good. Wear your kippa, keep your beard(neatly) and don’t change your name. There are millions of Americans with foreign sounding first names in the Unites States, I disagree that this attracts unwanted attention. If any of these things (kipa, beard or name) bothers your employer, you are better off not working there. My experience has cut both ways. One time I had two rounds of interviews go extremely well only to then have the final interviewer, a senior manager, walk in and stare straight at my kipa for 20 minutes while interviewing me. I certainly didn’t get that job. On the other hand I have submitted resumes blindly only to have sympathetic Jews pull mine out of the pile because of an Israel reference in my education section.

    The bottom line is that there is Siyata D’Shmaya involved in finding the right job. I agree that excessive Jewish references and nebulous degrees don’t help, but there is no need to go special lengths to hide that you are an Orthodox Jew.

  25. joel rich says:

    FWIW, and it was a long,long time ago – the dual program grind was known and appreciated by the NY area employers I applied to.
    KT

  26. The Contarian says:

    Dovid

    Psst interviewing experience may not be a good guide in today’s depressed job market. I am not sure if you intereviewed at the palces you mentioned while on the job or after being laid off.

    When times are boomimg and candidates relatively scarce, hiring managers on average are more willing to hire “high-maintenance” employees.

    When times are are tough, hiring mangagers have the pick of the litter and Orthodox Jews unfortunaely are not on most peoples preferred list.

    I believe that Orthodox men have a tougher time getting past the interviewing stage than Orthodox women because they are more easily identifiable as Orthodox.

    think of the shidduch scene where parents and prospective spouses spend so much effort in hiding issues than in revealing them. Why do they not follow your advice? They are going to need to have those issued dealt with in the marriage.

    There is a huge difference once one is in the door. Whether my approach constitutes Geneivas Daas, I will leave to the LORs and/or GORs

  27. Ori says:

    Dovid is probably right. However, I would like to add that for some jobs, being an Orthodox Jew can actually be a plus. Anything that needs to be available 24×7, such as hospitals, technical support, and critical infrastructure, would benefit from employees that don’t care if they are asked to work over Christmas, Easter, or New Years’.

    If you’re applying to such a job, you should put in that you’re an Orthodox Jew.

  28. Dr. E says:

    With all due respect to Observer, there is a collective seed which has been planted by some. That is one which casts the general intelligence, analytical skills, or moral standards which many Torah educated people have as something that should be put front-and-center in self-presentation. As such, there is quite a bit of “overselling” going on relative to their practical value. Also since multiculturalism seems to be in vogue, it is even suggested to to to one’s “advantage” to include them on a resume. In addition, some who dispense advice have never worked outside of an insular environment. Yet, they feel well-informed enough to provide guidance as to the value of these extracurricular activities in the corporate world. If I were giving advice to young people seeking guidance on careers and educational paths, I would suggest speaking with HR and Hiring Managers like Mr. Rubin. They are the ones actually reviewing the resumes and the information in real time.

    With regard to the degrees, these to which I think Mr. Rubin might be referring are either the exclusively online programs or generic graduate degrees. Taken alone at face value, they bring little to the table when listed on a resume. Very often, these graduate degrees come without a recognizable undergraduate degree. Some might question the value of an undergraduate secular degree as of little value. However, for those who earned one, it means they wrote at least one or two papers using proper English and terminology (obstacles referenced in more that one comment above). The degree might also mean that they collaborated on project work and made oral presentations with the same people with whom they might eventually be sharing an office someday. This is in contradistinction to those whose educational and extracurricular activities have been limited to a context of others who dress, act, and think like they do.

    Unless a degree is from a top notch school (implying some sort of entry requirements) in a field it is recognized for, having any degree in and of itself without relevant job experience is of marginal value. That seems to be what Mr. Rubin and others on the inside are telling us and to pitch it as equivalent is not working. In an ideal world for some, job experience is within an exclusively Jewish (or even Orthodox) like a summer camp or working for a small Jewish-owned company. However, they are not resume builders which will put one in good stead, especially in a highly competitive job market where employers can be selective. How young men and women will obtain the requisite job experience are challenges that must be met in terms of scheduling adjustments and a cost-benefit analysis. But, there is no doubt that such experiences are necessary. To infer that one’s intellectual acumen and Jewish extracurricular activities will compensate for the lack of industry-recognized experience, is simply untrue empirically. Historically, there might have been some exceptions who might have been able to be successful or “make it”. However, the stars may have very well been aligned in their favor (sometimes in the form of a well connected Zevulun along the way). To view them as representative of the rule is disingenuous.

    It would be way too convenient to pin many of today’s employment challenges in our communities on the current economic situation. While the situation exacerbates the financial realities of these challenges, the seeds for many of these challenges were planted a decade or two ago. It started with and continues to be the marginalization of Secular Studies in high schools whereby they are either treated with lip service or a cynical grin and wink. What was once a rigorous dual curriculum that some employers admired is no longer dual. Chinuch today is viewed as a zero-sum game. In marketing themselves, each yeshiva tries to outdo the other in terms of quality and quantity of learning. As a result, there are not enough hours in the day to have Secular Studies in any substantive fashion. This historical shift has been a gradual domino effect of the increasing influence of the Chareidi educational model in Israel which has been the implicit benchmark in America over the past 20+ years. As any CC reader knows, that model has imploded in Israel. So; how can it possibly continue to work in America?

    Today, all the “hock” is on how to navigate higher education in a streamlined fashion with all of the shortcuts and shtick imaginable (following a non-existent high school general studies program). Someone was even entrepreneurial enough to document these strategies in a recent book penned as a guide to college for young men and women. What we cynically referred to as “correspondence courses” on matchbook covers 30 years ago is now being advised as an institutional staple of one’s higher education journey today. I challenge any advocate including the author of that book to present empirical evidence that these channels are indeed “equivalent” and have track records of success.

    There was a time a generation or two ago, when people took more traditional paths toward employment, as it related to obtaining industry-standard training and entry-level job experience. No shtick just a bit of humility, starting from the bottom, and a hard work ethic. I am certainly not advocating abandoning Halachic standards or abandoning Torah study and values in obtaining that education and experience. Those are important and nonnegotiable facets of our existence. But, if frum Jews made it work then, should it not be possible or practical now?

    What are some other root causes of this shift? One is an attitude of elitism and entitlement, that going with the flow will certainly put one in a good place within the job market whenever it comes time to “make a parnassa”. Similarly, is the increasing insularity and the belief that a self-contained system works not only within itself but that people can easily transition into the workplace. Another is that life “windows” have been reduced and accelerated in an unprecedented way. Young men and women HAVE to be married by 20 or 21, if they don’t want to fall victim to the other “crisis”. They HAVE to live in a 4-bedroom house in a nice neighborhood by their mid-to late 20’s. (There is little concept of a “starter house” or a starter lifestyle.) So, when employers see that these individuals do not “bring to the table” a portfolio that is inconsistent with the salary level needed to maintain that lifestyle, the individuals cannot understand what has gone wrong and are understandably disillusioned.

    Some might think that the “corporate world” is limited to Wall Street, law firms, or companies similar to Mr. Rubin’s. But, these issues are equally salient in other venues of employment. These venues include doctors’ offices, government agencies, therapy placements (PT, Speech, OT, etc.), and even Jewishly-run businesses. Supervisors in those contexts are seeing the same things.

    As with most things in the real world, one can’t have it both ways. If one wants to play in the workplace, one needs to have a resume of training and experience to make the team. If one wants to limit his/her prospects to Jewish environments and can live a long-term lifestyle within those financial constraints, then all is fine and dandy.

    In the interest of playing fair, there have been observable decrements in the writing, social, and communication skills in general society as well. Overall professionalism has taken a hit too. Technology can be partially to blame and this is obvious to those of us who are old-school. This critique applies to those educated in non-Jewish public and private schools. However, because Yeshivas have ignored Secular Studies for so long, what was previously an “edge” for vocationally ambitious graduates in the job market has since evaporated.

    I suspect that Mr. Rubin is not alone in his assessment and that other Orthodox people who work in the business world across America are also approached regularly by job seekers, male and female, who fit this general profile. It would be helpful for other professional Bnei Torah who have been asked to refer one or two of these resumes within their organizations, to share their observations and experiences. Share them not only with the CC choir, but with those who are dispensing the very guidance which created those resume entries. The most productive thing to result from this discussion would be not only specific recommendations for reforming the situation, but openness by the leaders to do so.

    Don’t just take the word of the Mr. Rubins out there. There is actually one more not-so-anonymous group from whom young people and those who advise them should seek counsel. These are those not-so-young heads-of-household who are in their late 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and even 50’s who have been unable to break into or maintain a consistent foothold the job market. They are often the ones who continue to struggle in our communities with those resumes.

  29. aharon says:

    Let’s skip the pleasantries and get to the point: if you have no relevant work or educational experience, if you can’t relate to other people, if you are uncomfortable to be around AND if you think you are by definition morally and existentially superior to others no one will want to hire you.
    Look, we have a generation of kids who never interact with non-jews or even non-religious jews, who are taught not to respect anyone with a differnt viewpoint, much less different religion, who are taught that excellence at work is not something to strive for but only settle for if you fail in learning, who have not seen their fathers work nor go to school with kids whose fathers work. This generation has no concept of reality. Why would anyone hire them? And it’s only going to get worse for the next generation.
    Moral:before talking about work and education, SOCIALIZE your kids, teach them to appreciate things and be adaptable, pleasant and interactive and they’ll succeed in life.

  30. dr. bill says:

    Joel Rich, in my day the seriousness accorded secular studies in high school at places like Torah Vodaath and the significant number of post-high school students also attending college, approximated the YU dual program, at least for the average student. almost all of my (rather accomplished) classmates at TV are college educated with a fair number of advanced degrees. I suspect they are every bit as succesful as my college YU class. Any missing/requisite social skills were quickly acquired. Around 1970 the change began; 40 years later the results are being tallied. The differences among the children and grandchildren of my classmates at TV and YU are a wholly other story.

  31. Observer says:

    Comment 24 is right on the mark. While I would never presume to judge someone who decides to use his secular name in order to obscure the fact that he (or she) is Jewish, turning that into a virtue or the “only sensible” thing to do goes too far in my opinion. And, by and large, if you don’t make a big issue of the Jewish stuff, then neither will the potential employer – unless prior frum people have poisoned the well. Which is another good reason to make suer you behave like a mentsh.

    Comment #14 also makes a very valid point. I was just reading the blog of someone who does job placement privately and for one of NYC’s public colleges. Some of what he writes mirrors the advice given in the original article – and some goes even further. I mean, should you REALLY have to tell people “If you arrange for an interview, you have to show up”? Once upon a time ago, I would have thought not, but he’s had this experience, and so have I – and not with Jewish candidates either. He doesn’t really deal with the frum population, and in the cases I was dealing with, I know they were not Jewish.

    That’s small comfort, though. It’s still a problem when people go on job interviews and can’t act like an adult, rather than a self centered child.

  32. Shira says:

    in mentoring young frum women, when I suggest that a year or two be spent gaining some experience before pursuing graduate work, it is often met with significant resistance…..They want “dream jobs” doing “fascinating work” with high salaries and flexible schedules (ideally, part time)….. their mothers, too, balk at the idea of their daughters taking a year or two to work and gain real world experience rather than pursue their MS, …. Their rationale is “let them do it (get their MS) now before they have additional responsibilities of husband and/or children (and we are footing the bill?).”

    They don’t realize how common it is for their competition to get work experience before grad school, making them much more mature candidates for positions.

    As a mother who has been blessed with part time work for a good many of the past 10 years, it is only because of the 10 years before that when I built up an impressive Wall Street resume. (Even so, for 2 years I was out of work due exclusively to my part-time status.)

    It’s much easier to swing academic grad school while married and with kids than to start a rigorous full-time job that will gain one great experience. The real place to put one’s while-I-can-do-it time is in the workplace.

    Any parental gifts toward future grad-school tuition can be set aside in a savings account.

  33. Ori says:

    Note: This is the view of an ignorant outsider. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Part of the problem may be that it’s hard to be frum middle class. If you’re in kollel, everybody accepts that you’re poor and cannot pay full tuition for your kids, give as much tzedakah, etc. But once you start earning a salary, you have to pay for everything, including subsidizing those still in kollel.

    This means that a lot of people can’t afford to get entry level jobs. Unfortunately, their experience does not allow for anything more lucrative.

  34. One Christian's perspective says:

    Dovid is probably right. However, I would like to add that for some jobs, being an Orthodox Jew can actually be a plus. Anything that needs to be available 24×7, such as hospitals, technical support, and critical infrastructure, would benefit from employees that don’t care if they are asked to work over Christmas, Easter, or New Years’.

    If you’re applying to such a job, you should put in that you’re an Orthodox Jew. – Comment by Ori

    Ori, good points all around !
    I have, in the past – before glorious retirement – been in a position to interview and offer someone a position. The degree was a screening device to get you in the door. Experience was somewhat of a plus – you’d be surprised how creative some resumes can be. Some, I thought, were wonderful towers of fiction and imagination….if only they were true. As a manager in an accounting department in a large University, I also looked for someone’s ability and desire to be curious, to ask questions, to seek answers and their willingness to achieve and push themselves to a higher level. Of course, some of my reasons were selfish. They made my job easier ! However, I found that individuals who did those things, by choice or training, were the happiest employees and…..most productive. If being a practicing Orthodox Jew brings these qualities in focus and develops them to a fine edge, then, by all means, bring that out and share the good news. OTOH, please share what it means to be an Orthodox Jew in a largely gentile world. Most of us are willing to learn and certainly do not want to offend. I once met a rabbi from Hillel who respectfully refused to shake my hand. What did I do, I wondered. I checked with a fellow employee who was an Orthodox Jew and was enlightened, alas, all was well.

    Know your strengths and weaknesses. Seek positions that play to your strengths – not just academic. If you are uncomfortable in a highly social environment where there are non Jews of both sexes, consider positions where you can be somewhat of a loner. Some computer positions allow one to work from a small cubicle or even at home. Perhaps lab technicians are similar.

    Don’t sell yourself short.

  35. Daniel Rubin says:

    I agree with comment #31 regarding when and how to introduce relevant religious issues. Actually, I believe the book, “Interviews for Dummies” advocates this approach by advising to continually tell your potential employer what you can do for them as opposed to how they will have to accommodate you. -If I remember correctly, the Malbim at the beginning of Parshas Behar suggests that G-d uses this approach as well when introducing Shabboss and Shmitta. After one has developed a relationship and shown some success to an employer these conversations take on a completely different tone.

    One story on this topic from my “school of hard knocks” indoctrination:

    A frum man was kind enough to arrange an interview for me at a large corporation. When I asked him about the company’s comfort level with a yarmulke he suggested that I attend the first interview bare-headed and then only wear it to a follow-up interview. This sounded very strange to me so I consulted Rav Dovid Cohen Sh”lita. R’Dovid said “This is (not Asur because you are Jewish but )Asur as a human being”

    On another note, would anyone mind sharing thoughts/experiences on a resume that lists a Masters degree with no work experience? I’m told that employers dislike this because they think they have to pay an employee for an advanced education but receive insufficient return, since the lack of experience really puts the employee at entry level.

  36. Eli says:

    Daniel:

    We have some examples of Masters (and PHD’s) by us, I believe they were only offer entry level salaries.

    Comment 28 is right on the mark. Masters without an undergrad, “FDU”, etc. all go straight to the garbage pile. Employers can tell who will be part of a team, who can write an essay, and who will work hard and who will not. We actually have an essay as part of our interview, and many frum people for whom I have gotten interviews have flunked at that stage.

  37. Bob Miller says:

    Somehow, I sense that the objects of all these good recommendations do not frequent this blog or any blog. If we want to get the word out to do some good, as opposed to commiserating and sharing war stories among ourselves, there has to be some better way.

    One roadblock is that too many Jewish educators and community leaders and parents are ideologically disposed to share the false assumptions discussed here. How do we get the message through or around them?

  38. Daniel Rubin says:

    To # 34 One Christian’s perspective

    Thank you for sharing this. If you know of anyone else who hires based on these standards can you please pass this information along.

    A problem I have noticed is that there are incompetent advisors out there who will take isolated stories such as yours and will apply them to every career, every individual and every corporation. There charges then approach their job search in the same way that Alex Rodriguez approaches free agency and suffer the consequences

  39. A. Schreiber says:

    I know a young lady who lost a job at a law firm because of the lunch interview. They were able to accept that she ordered a kosher meal, no problem. But the waiter opened up the plastic double wrap, and she made a scene. That’s what lost her the job.

    In other words, people have to know what is ikkar hadin, and what is just a chumrah. Not shaking a woman’s hand is not ikkar hadin; insisting on double wrapping is not ikkar hadin. I cant elaborate, because I’m sure the site editors will say they dont want to get into matters of halacha. So I can only say the general principle – dont lose jobs because of chumrahs. The work force is not the yeshivah, and just because you saw a sefer advocating this minhag or that halacha, it doesnt mean it will fly in the office.

  40. Shlomo Hoffman says:

    Dan is right on the money.

    As a HR professional in a large Federal agency I receive numerous calls from young yeshiva men and ladies about “short-cuts” to an entry level analyst position. When I inform them that there are no short-cuts and the labor market supply and demand is not in their favor, they are shocked.

    From an employers view being frum is NOT an asset! You are an extra burden that many managers just rather not deal with because there are 50 well qualified applicants with real degrees from real universities with directly related work experiences ready and willing to start the job.

    When I suggest a short term non-paying internship to gain some related experience and resume builder they never call back.

    So who is at fault? The Yeshivas? The Seminaries?. No! It’s the parents and job applicants themselves who must accept the responsibility for career choices. Parents who have been oushed out of the picture by Rebbim/Madrichos must push back into the picture. It is the parents and their child who have to live with consequences of poor choices made in earlier years.

  41. Shira says:

    Ori: Part of the problem may be that it’s hard to be frum middle class. If you’re in kollel, everybody accepts that you’re poor ….. But once you start earning a salary, you have to pay for everything ….

    Shira: Let’s turn this idea on its head – if someone is used to kollel, where everyone accepts that they can’t afford the “frum middle class” so that they receive discounts, subsidies, and other accommodations to nonetheless fit in – will they be ready mentally to take full financial responsibility for themselves? Perhaps this is a partial cause of the entitlement attitude when walking into the job market?

  42. Ori says:

    Shira, good point. Other than scrapping the kollel system, can you think of a way to avoid creating this sense of entitlement?

  43. K R Heckert says:

    In regard to the “tell them or not” issue I have consistently received the following advice:

    Don’t bring it up until _after_ the job offer. (Most employers will not object to you not working on Shabbos and Yom Tovim. The sticky part is explaining why you have to leave early on “short” Fridays.)

    They are not allowed to directly ask you anything about religion unless it is a “bona fide occupational requirement” – i.e. absolutely necessary to do the job. Religious discrimination is forbidden by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Nevertheless, it is a good idea to be as friendly as possible. Many people are uncertain of their ability to deal with someone who is too “different,” so be as non-threatening as possible while avoiding giving the impression that you could be pressured into compromising what you can’t compromise.

  44. Shira says:

    Other than scrapping the kollel system, can you think of a way to avoid creating this sense of entitlement?

    It isn’t the kollel system – it’s philosophy on educating children amidst affluence (or lack thereof). And it isn’t unique to the charedi community – children of all sectors are at risk to be indulged when they should be given responsibilities.

    You like me probably held a part-time job after school. We answered to another adult, and we realized ourselves as productive members of society. Before that most of us had household chores – and whether ever kept our rooms clean or only mowed the lawn only after much parental insistence, we got the message that we need to contribute.

    Nowadays many families can afford household help, and/or the parents are too busy to spend years watching their kids help with tasks at a slower pace and done incorrectly. And in the teenage years, more parents can afford summer camps and lots of clothes, so the children are “free” to do their homework and pursue multiple hobbies (again at parental expense) – perhaps then justified in the name of the College Application.

    Unfortunately the charedi community has a positive spin on this as well – parenting classes teach mothers to discourage their sons from employment, personal interests such as carpentry and music, and even helping at home, because they are in Hashem’s army and all their time should be spent learning (or recharging as they desire). Similarly, daughters are discouraged from taking on most employment lest they be in an inappropriate environment or be too much in the public eye (these are real concerns but can be effectively addressed without having to avoid the benefits altogether). And if that weren’t enough, more parental advice discourages demanding too much of children since that might hamper the parent-child relationship and encourage the children to go off the derech.

    Not only are these ideas incorrect as a hashkafa in themselves, they ignore the high-energy nature of youth, when children naturally seek and apply themselves with gusto to whatever activity they can find.

    Most families (mine included) do not hold back enough nor do they demand enough of their children. To our credit we are fighting a reverse current, and meanwhile pursuing a plethora of “Jewish values.” Unfortunately when these values are at odds with each other, nowadays we are more likely to pick whatever speaks to the highest long-term achievement, rather than the one that best refines our character.

    So we get neither.

    However, the children who are raised with a strong sense of personal responsibility might even go to kollel (or send their husbands to it) – the difference is that they maintain a full attendance record, pursue the learning program that best develops themselves, and balance the work-vs-take continuum for maximum benefit to themselves, their families and their community.

  45. Shira says:

    Other than scrapping the kollel system, can you think of a way to avoid creating this sense of entitlement?

    It isn’t the kollel system – it’s philosophy on educating children amidst affluence (or lack of such a philosophy). And it isn’t unique to the charedi community – children of all sectors are at risk to be indulged when they should be given responsibilities.

    You like me probably held a part-time job after school. We answered to an adult besides our parents, and we realized ourselves as productive members of society. Before that most of us had household chores – and whether ever kept our rooms clean or only mowed the lawn only after much parental insistence, we got the message that we need to contribute.

    Nowadays many families can afford household help, and/or the parents are too busy to spend years watching their kids help with tasks at a slower pace and done incorrectly. And in the teenage years, more parents can afford summer camps and lots of clothes, so the children are “free” to do their homework and pursue multiple hobbies (again at parental expense) – perhaps then justified in the name of the College Application.

    Unfortunately the charedi community has a positive spin on this as well – parenting classes teach mothers to discourage their sons from employment, personal interests such as carpentry and music, and even helping at home, because they are in Hashem’s army and all their time should be spent learning (or recharging as they desire). Similarly, daughters are discouraged from taking on most employment lest they be in an inappropriate environment or be too much in the public eye (these are real concerns but can be effectively addressed without having to avoid the benefits altogether). And if that weren’t enough, more parental advice discourages demanding too much of children since that might hamper the parent-child relationship and encourage the children to go off the derech.

    Not only are these ideas incorrect as a hashkafa in themselves, they ignore the high-energy nature of youth, when children naturally seek and apply themselves with gusto to whatever activity they can find.

    Most families (mine included) neither hold back enough from nor demand enough of their children. To our credit we are fighting a reverse current, and meanwhile pursuing a plethora of “Jewish values.” Unfortunately when these values are at odds with each other, nowadays we are more likely to pick whatever speaks to the highest long-term achievement, rather than the one that best refines our character.

    So we get neither.

    However, the children who are raised with a strong sense of personal responsibility may very well learn in kollel (or send their husbands to it) – the difference is that they maintain a full attendance record, pursue the learning program that best develops themselves, and balance the work-vs-take continuum for maximum benefit to themselves, their families and their community.

  46. Shlomo Radamska says:

    KR: It’s more than just the early Friday departures. In today’s
    corporate and government world it is the larger issue of “fitting in.”

    We can’t be viewed as so different that managers will pass us by and make another selection bevcause we seem so different. Team work and group dynamics are a great part of today’s work enviroment.

    Our yeshiva/Seminary grads have little experience with team work dynamics outside of their “daled amos.’

    The myoptic view of the drunken and obnoxious goy is not what they will encounter in most work enviroments. Rather, they will be shocked to find mdfdle class thinking goyim with many of the same family values as we have.

    Again, it is the parents role to provide for their children’s education and parnasah needs. Many parents have been pushed out by Yeshiva/Seminary leaders, but when events go south it is the parents, not the yeshiva/seminary heads, who face the consequences of pooly made decisions from years past. Parents must wake up and push back into their children’s parnasah future.

  47. Duchifat says:

    There have been many great comments here and I hope that I can add something, both as an employer and a job seeker.

    A. The black hat yeshiva that I attended for part of high school constantly gave us a message that a real bein torah should think of themselves as nothing, look at the ground, and not care about how they looked. This was ingrained in us. Needless to say, the first time I was asked to “sell myself” I had no idea what to say. I had been taught not to brag or say anything that might sound haughty.

    B. Having both worn and not worn a yarmulka at work, I say wear it. Be true to who you are. If your employer doesn’t like or feel comfortable with Jews, it’ll come out whether you’re wearing a yarmulka or not. I have found that some fellow employees actually respect the fact that you are not going to hide who you are.

    C. I have run into many guys who just think that all they have to do is “handel” their way to the top. The idea of hard work has some how flown out the door.

    D. As an employer who was not just the only frum Jew, but Jew, when I did hire another frum Jew, I was accused of hiring “my friend” despite the fact, I had never met the guy before interviewing him.

    E. I can only reiterate the issue of shaking hands with the opposite sex. I interviewed someone for a job where there would be a great deal of interaction with all kinds of people. When introducing him around the office, he flat out told a woman that he did not shake hands with women. Needless to say that he didn’t get the job. If that’s a red line for you than you need to really reconsider what type of job you want.

  48. Dr. E says:

    With regard to Ori’s question in Comment #42 about scrapping the Kollel system, I’m not sure whether it was rhetorical or not. But, I think that is precisely what most people on this thread are proposing. The Kollel system as it exists today is based on “everyone’s doing it, so why shouldn’t we get into the game?”. The percentage of Yeshiva graduates taking that path is historically unprecedented. (Even the hagiographies about life in Europe wouldn’t have the chutzpah to be that creative.) Instead of expressing triumphalism and glee in these numbers, leaders should be intellectually honest as to its failure, certainly in creating a financially unsustainable system, but also inasmuch as it has fallen short of creating the Gedolim that it purports to achieve. So, the question should be HOW should this system be overhauled, not taking it as a given that it must remain with us until Moshiach.

    While a four year undergraduate degree presents obvious challenges to a Yeshiva boy or BY girl, that doesn’t make such an experience unnecessary or irrelevant–as has been asserted by leaders of those institutions. Between the ages of 18 and 22 a typical undergraduate is exposed to different classes and has an opportunity to see what he/she is interested in and good at. This is a quite natural period of trial-and-error and kids change their majors one or two times before graduation. Compare that with the population in question. For the BY girls, the clock is ticking and they have to decide what they want to be (limited to probably 3 or 4 fields that are “kosher and do-able”) right after HS. For the Yeshiva guys, at age 22 or 23 (if that young) they are expected to figure out what they are interested in and what they might be good at. Having received a Yeshiva chinuch, for the most part they have not had a secular class since Elementary School. Come to the rescue, the (generic) graduate degree—and no experience. Because at this point, they already have family responsibilities, they are forced to put all their eggs in a single basket and are expected to transition into the general workforce. While some Yeshiva guys know what they want to do at an early age and have the requisite acumen, motivation, and father-in-law, that is the exception. Unfortunately, there are so many Yeshiva graduates in our communities who start (late) along a career track in which they are neither interested in the field and/or any good at. (They might end up being the Rebbe we wish we’d never had or the “job forlorn” described above.) Combine that with the social skills challenges and self-defeating attitudinal components we are seeing, and the outcomes have not been exactly successful.

  49. Bob Miller says:

    Skilled trades (electrician, plumber, appliance repairman…) are also potential sources of employment of prospects who were properly trained. This is a possible alternative to the advanced academic model.

    When we lived in Metro Detroit, our car mechanic, electrician, handyman, and washer/dryer repairman were all Jewish independent contractors.

  50. L. Oberstein says:

    Am in Eretz Yisroel at the moment where there are thousands of men whose main source of income is their wives. The paper says that a new center is being established in Tel Aviv to provide jobs for more Kollel wives from Kiryat Sefer. The wife earns the living, runs the home, bears the children and the husband has no marketable skills.In pondering how this dysfunctional system became the norm, I want to apply an answer I got from a Shomer Hatzair guide at Kibbutz Negba. He said they were so anti religious one generation ago because when you are a “revolutionary’ you want to destroy the old system.Now,he says , they are not so opposed,just ignorant. We in the frum world can take pride that our “revolution” to rebuild Torah has been more successful than predicted. Now, we need to move to the post-revolution stage and teach secular studies, job skills, and good citizenship in the chareidi schools, to boys as well as girls.We aren’t fighting Shomer Hatzair any more, let’s move on.

  51. Shlomo Radamska says:

    #50: Right on. But, no one in the Charedi world will buy into that view. They are all circuling their wagons hoping to survive the economic downturn and continue their lazy and irresponsible life styles. We have won the war, but they seem oblivious to that fact.

    Yes, it is more exteme in Israel than in the USA, but even in the USA getting past the “Lakewood mentality of universal kollel” is hard. By definition that produces mediocrity.

    We are all headed for a giant charedi economic meltdown or the arrival of Meseach. I hope for the later, but fear the former.

  52. Shira says:

    If everyone going into kollel accepted a future (i.e. even beyond kollel) of sacrifice and financial hardship, I think it would be ok.

    A few solid years of learning during the years when a young man is more “free” yet his mind is finally primed for it are quite a good investment.

    And who says one’s job needs to be so well chosen – I think in Europe no one had such variety of choices for “self-actualization”…. (It is up to the employers – schools included – to be choosy about their teachers. If a school’s parent body cannot afford tuition toward good teachers they will end up with less desirable candidates.)

    The problem stems from expectations – as a new generation enters kollel, they think they will always live the non-kollel standards of their childhood. So they are ill-equipped to live a lifestyle of 2-3 sets of clothing per children, basic food only, vacations at the local playgrounds.

    They could also use more serious advice regarding insurance policies, should ch”v there be any hiccup in the subsistence living they have mapped out. I think we have all tired of the sensationalist tzedakah mailings of this type.

    Unfortunately from what I’ve seen, the leaders who are in the position to give this message of realism don’t experience it themselves. I was once in a group of 20 young charedi mothers, who pressed their parenting course teacher on this – why aren’t young couples warned? The teacher explained that she and her husband were connected and financially stable enough to help all their children ideally become Roshei Yeshiva or at worst get through a vocational training even with a large family. It seemed that she thought that everyone can manage the same way, more or less.

  53. Shira says:

    But by the way the snobby expectations of 6-figure salaries and easy jobs isn’t unique to any one community. In non-charedi communities, many youth sacrifice opportunities for Torah study to establish their careers.

    There should be more encouragement on all sides to plan ahead – pick a career that will enable a well-rounded life, chart an educational plan to aim for several goals.

  54. Zachary Kessin says:

    I think part of the problem is that many young people have very unrealistic ideas about how the work world works. I expect that many of these CV’s end up in the trash after the HR person reads the first 4 lines. Remember the HR guy has a stack of several hundred CV’s for that job. If you can not look impressive in the first 4 lines or so I promise you someone else does. (My CV starts out with a list of publications).

    The Job of your CV (or resume if you are in the US, same basic thing) is to get you an interview, the job of the interview is to get you the actual job. And if you can’t be the world’s biggest mentch at the interview and show the skills that are needed you won’t get the job. Even in a good market and right now its even more so!

    I say this having been in the internet biz since ’94 and having interviewed a number of people over the years.

  55. Zachary Kessin says:

    A few tips for job seekers:

    1) Yeshiva Standard English will not get you hired!
    2) Don’t use a nickname, a Hebrew name is fine in most cases but the name on your CV should be your full legal name
    3) Keep your CV to 1 page.
    4) Don’t misrepresent yourself. People will find out sooner or later
    5) Don’t make your needs their problem. You might not like what your female co worker wears, but shut up and be polite about it, if you start causing problems that could open up your boss to a law suit he will respond by firing YOU.

    Hit the local Bookstore or Public Library and go read a bunch of books on finding a job. Your librarian will be glad to help if its a good library.

  56. R. Gottesman says:

    I grew up thinking that all non-frum people took drugs and did terrible things! Luckily, because my father had a job in a government agency he was able to get me a summer typing and I met all non-frum and non-Jewish people, who were totally professional (all men at the time) and proper, both Jews and Christians. I learned quickly these were respectable people, brought up very much like me although not frum or Jewish, and I learned how to act like them on the job, how to speak in a professional way, and how to produce! What worries me is that the new generation of Lakewood bred youth (in their twenties and upward) has never seen a father who works, has no access to the world of professional work, with terrible English skills. These men are not employable outside the frum velt. It is a tragedy for the families. But they are still unaware of it. They live in a fool’s paradise. My sister is looking for “long term support” for her inarticulate, uneducated (in secular studies) but very intelligent gemorah kup son.

  57. Steve Brizel says:

    Mr. Rubin’s observations and many of the comments about what works, and what should be avoided, by any job seeker, should be circulated as widely possible. Much of the same is simple common sense, but sometimes common sense is a spare commodity, when conventional wisdom, which leads to some of the horror stories posted, is unfortunately all too prevalent.

  58. Isaac Moses says:

    Eli said (#21):

    There is no reason why a job seeker can not ask the “frum network” to get an unpaid internship (even in a “heimishe” company) in the area which he or she wants to go into.

    I think that an internship in a heimishe company, while a step in the right direction, could serve to reinforce some of the un-beneficial behaviors listed above. In a heimishe environment, heimishe styles of behavior may be preferred over standard professional styles, and even if they’re not preferred, they’re likely to be tolerated. The intern then a) doesn’t learn how to behave professionally, and b) gets the impression that his current behavioral style is fine for the workplace.

    It would probably be much more useful for people who need to be acclimated to the general workplace to start with an internship or even a menial job in a completely secular environment. Alternatively, frum business owners could provide a great service to the community by first maintaining a professional atmosphere in their businesses and then hiring interns and deliberately coaching them when their behavior wouldn’t cut it in a non-heimishe environment.

    —–

    Regarding shaking hands with the opposite gender:
    I personally do shake hands, so this hasn’t been an issue for me. I have heard stories from multiple sources of people (usually prominent rabbis) who manage to refuse to shake hands with enough finesse to defuse any potential ill will. For job candidates who absolutely won’t shake hands, this may be something to shoot for with the following very important caveat:

    As mentioned above, refusing to shake hands is an automatic negative. You will have to work very hard to make it neutral. This may sound silly, but you must develop a script and PRACTICE delivering it with a big smile while looking directly at the other person until people you practice it with agree that you’re incredibly natural and friendly. First, practice over and over in front of a mirror, then practice with a family member or other trusted observer of the opposite gender. To develop a script, get advice people who routinely pull off such a maneuver successfully (Rabbis who deal with outside entities or non-shaking professionals).

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