Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist


There is a lot of discussion about employment these days. With governments overdoing unemployment benefits, many have chosen sitting at home as opposed to becoming a productive member of society. I do not understand this; it was not how I was raised.

Further, I do not understand retirement. I will be 71 in about three weeks, and I have never thought of retiring, do not understand the word. Moses never retired, neither did David, Solomon or any of the Apostles of the New Testament. It is a modern invention and speaks to how rich we have become.

People often tell me, “I have not retired, I have chosen to do different things.”

I have a question for them. “Are you doing these different things with the vigor of a 40- or 50-hour week as you previously invested in your job?”

Even the 40- or 50-hour week is a product of our rich society. Our grandparents, in my case, or perhaps your great-grandparents, put in six 10- or 12-hour days routinely, just to put food on the table. Modern efficiencies have allowed us the luxury of the modern short work week.

Fortunately, the way my team and I have our work organized, we never missed a beat this past year. We have worked out of home offices for many years, and our services are such that the clients kept buying regularly. We have had to remind ourselves often in this past year that others have suffered when it comes to working; we noticed no differences.

Apparently, many have enjoyed working at home. It is being reported that up to 30 percent of office employees will look for another job if told to go back to the office. Who knew our little company was a leader?

However, given the current state of employment, I thought I would share a couple of items I have learned over the years that are invaluable to those who want to work.

The first one I heard from a former chairman of Porsche, and it is this: “You are hired for your resume and fired for your personality.”

As I have thought of this over the years, all I can say is, so true. People are hired through an interviewing process involving their resume. If you are going to work at a fast-food establishment, they make you prepare a resume by filling out their application form. I cannot count the times I have seen a fast-food manager sitting in the corner, interviewing someone from the application in front of them.

I have also been involved in dismissing people. In every case, it was because of the person’s work ethic and personality.

If I am going to put you in front of the public, I will never hire you if you have visible tattoos or piercings. Yes, it is your right to have them. It is also my right to not hire you (these matters are not protected by government regulations), and you will never know that is the reason I did not hire you. (I am not alone here, there are many managers that do not want these decorations on the front serving line of their business).

Permanently decorate your body at your own peril.

A friend of mine has the best interview technique I have ever seen. Sitting with the candidate (or online as it has been for the last year), after the pleasantries are said, he asks the candidate only one question: “Starting with when your parents met, tell me everything that has happened up to today.”

It is a great question, for the candidate, particularly in high-level jobs, does not know what background research has already been done. So, they tell everything, including that time 20 years ago they were arrested in Kansas City for drunk driving.

Subtleties matter.

In one case, I know a woman who had received a chemical engineering degree from Georgia Tech. A manager who did not want to hire a woman accused her of lying on her resume. She had put her degree as “bachelor of science, chemical engineering” on her resume. She said, yes, you are correct, a chemical engineering degree from Georgia Tech is properly named, “bachelor in chemical engineering.” He used this, at least at that time, to perpetuate his chauvinistic ways.

I hope he eventually got fired for his personality.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at jthompson@taii.com.