She was late, but I was willing to give the 20-something job applicant some leeway, given the horrendous Washington traffic.

Maybe something happened to her.

As time passed, I finally called her. She answered with a text message and then left a rambling voice mail for why she didn’t show up for the interview.

She never apologized.

She just left a trail of electronic excuses.

I was hotter than the asphalt on a Deep South highway.

I should have sent the young woman the Color of Money Book Club pick for May, “Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?: A Crash Course in Finding, Landing, and Keeping Your First Real Job” (Workman Publishing Co., $13.95), by Ellen Gordon Reeves, a resume expert at the Columbia Publishing Course in New York.

So here we are just a few weeks from graduation ceremonies across the country. Although companies are hiring a bit more this year, it’s still a tough job market, according to CareerBuilder’s annual job forecast.

I wonder how many of the graduates will make careless and thoughtless mistakes trying to find their first full-time job.

When looking for work, it’s downright shocking the blunders many applicants make. They should know better. The young woman I was scheduled to interview should have known better.

One would think after several years in college, people would have been taught how to prepare a resume and cover letter, what to do for an interview (like show up), what not to do during an interview, what to wear, say, or not say.

But talk to anyone in a position to hire folks and you will hear some of the most outrageous, crazy and unbelievable stories about job candidates.

There are many books on this topic. But Reeves has put together a guide that reads fresh and is as easy to navigate as the technology you can’t pry from the hands of young adults, the target market for her book. I love the way she picks through the errors in sample resumes and cover letters.

The book is hip (although I suspect it’s no longer hip to say hip). It’s not written in a way that is condescending. It’s also encouraging.

“Here’s what most new job hunters don’t realize: An economic downturn will not destroy your chances of getting a job; indeed, it can actually offer opportunity, if you understand how to make the most of the situation,” Reeves writes.

Don’t let the book’s title fool you. The advice isn’t trite. There are the usual reminders about networking, writing an error-free resume and cover letter, and discussing salary.

However, Reeves approaches her advice like she’s having a conversation, not giving a stern lecture.

Here’s a typical question about networking: I’m shy. Talking to people I don’t know is scary. Do I really have to do this?

“No one is asking you to turn yourself into a social butterfly or accost people at bars or parties, but if you are going to launch an extended job search, you’ve got to talk to people,” Reeves writes.

If you’re looking for a job, please spare another person who is interviewing applicants from having to endure hair-pulling blunders by a job seeker. Follow the wisdom and common sense in this book so that your chances of landing a job increase tenfold because you show up for interviews prepared. Or at least show up.

As with all Color of Money Book Club selections, I’ll be hosting a live online chat, at noon on May 27 at

Reeves will be with me to take questions. If you’re a hiring manager, join us and share your tips and frustrations with what you’ve seen.

If you’re looking for a job, it would also be a great chat if you joined us.

The online chat is a way for members to meet virtually. Every month, I randomly select readers who will receive a copy of the featured book, donated by the publisher. For a chance to win Reeves’ book, e-mail [email protected] with your name and address. I particularly would like to give books to new graduates.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re wedded to your nose ring, Reeves says go ahead and wear it to the interview if you intend to put it back on and keep it on should you get the job. You might as well show the employer what he or she is really getting, she says.

Of course, in general, you want to look like you want a job, not a date. As Reeves cautions: “The first impression you make can determine your fate.”


Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20071. Her e-mail address is:

[email protected]If you’re looking for a job, please spare another person who is interviewing applicants from having to endure hair-pulling blunders by a job seeker.


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