Lessons from the Gen Y Job Candidate from Hell

Super uuggghh! It’s these kinds of stories that make Gen Y look bad. Today’s horror story circulated in the Twitterverse among new and seasoned PR pros about the worst-practices intern applicant in South Florida. The applicant turned in a shoddy writing test, criticized the hiring manager’s teaching attempts as well as the agency’s own work, dragged out the dialog with personal attacks and near defamation.

You can read the blow-by-blow here.  Let’s try and make this a learning opportunity.

Lessons from the Candidate from Hell

1. DO NOT ever argue, lie, criticize or belittle anyone during your job search.

2. DO learn to take criticism, constructive or not, with grace.

3. DO NOT underestimate the importance of details during the application process. While “on paper” the candidate for this job appeared qualified, it’s small touches like enthusiasm for learning, proper e-mails, responsiveness and professionalism that make a memorable impression.

4. DO be justifiably confident. But just because you got A’s in classes doesn’t mean you are great. Learn enough about your business and study the leaders in your business, so that you can honestly set the bar for yourself.

5. For professors (and forgiveness, but this is one of my pet peeves): DO NOT grade too easily. Demand that students demonstrate clear understanding of concepts and how to apply them. Don’t listen to obvious sob stories. Don’t extend deadlines when students complain, unless there’s a REALLY good reason (it’s not fair to the kids who did get their work done on time). Lastly, don’t feel mean for being a “tough” professor. You’re not doing us any favors by taking it easy or guarding our notorious self-esteem. Our bosses, mentors and role models all will ask more of us…why shouldn’t you?

6. Lastly, DO remember that everyone is connected, and the internet makes it even harder to live down our not-so-hot moments. As the blogger wrote, “Be wary of burning bridges at such an early stage.” I’d say it another way: Unless you want to commit career suicide, show some integrity, no matter what the situation is. You’ll regret it for a lot longer than you’ll be angry about it.


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