How to get some sweet job skills

by Natalie Dee

Iíve given out quite a few rťsumťs and job applications in the past year, trying to find a part-time job. But guess what, Natalie? I donít get any callbacks! I think my problem is not having any references, but how am I supposed to get those unless I get a job? I know skills are important, so what are some good skills? óErik


Getting your first job is tricky business. As youíve discovered, itís hard to show a prospective employer that you have the necessary skills to hold down a job when youíve never done it before.

What you need to do is get a little creative when filling out applications. When it asks for specific skills, donít think, ďI donít have any skills!Ē Think more in terms of past academic accomplishments, hobbies and other things that show that, while youíve never held down a job per se, you have been productive and working hard.

Have you taken any foreign language classes? Babysat around the neighborhood? Are you involved in any clubs or community groups? These are all things you can put on an application.

Another thing you might want to consider is doing a few hours a week of volunteer work. Putting something like that on an application shows that you have a social conscience, and that you can be relied on to help people out.

Also think about talking to teachers you have good relationships with about putting them down as references. They would be able to tell prospective employers about how smart you are, how youíre a hard worker, and that you can stay on task and complete projects on a deadline.


Iím a full-time telecommuter, working from home four or five days a week. I like to go to the local cafes and coffee shops around town during the day to break up the monotony, and I bring my laptop to get work done while I swill coffee.

More and more lately it seems that Iíll be by myself working and a group of people will come in and start having an extremely loud business meeting of some sort. And I donít have sensitive hearingóthey are talking as loud as they would if they were giving a presentation.

Do you think itís OK to quietly and nicely tell them to be a bit quieter, or is me interrupting them as rude as them being so unruly?

This question seems silly as I type it, but today, for the second or third time in the past week, Iíve had to get up and leave due to people being so loud that I couldnít think. Itís driving me crazy and I donít know what to do! I feel like Iím stuck in my basement! óRob


I know! What is with that, Rob?

Your question hits very close to home. I also work from home, and I enjoy going to the coffee shop to get stuff done once in awhile. But sometimes people are so loud, I have to leave. But thatís not fair, is it? We shouldnít have to leave!!! What the fuck?

Iíll tell you honestly what Iíve been doing when in the presence of cats who think that everybody needs to know what their damned meeting is about. I used to just get pissed and cuss under my breath for 15 minutes, then stomp out. Lately, though, Iíve been bringing my iPod with me, and if people start being loud I just listen to music instead of listening to peopleís rude, obnoxious asses. That seems to work out just fine for me, and it might work for you.

Alternately, you could politely ask them to be a little quieter. I donít think that asking someone to keep it down is especially rude. However, I do think it takes certain personality traits to be able to tell people they are too loud. I would not be offended if someone told me to keep it down, but I am too timid to tell someone to shut up.

If thatís something you would be comfortable with, though, go for it. I see nothing wrong with nicely asking other people to be a little more considerate when sharing a public space.


OK, this is going to sound insane, but last week I received a voice mail at work from the wife of a coworker. Basically the message told me to stay away from her husband and that he was a married man, etc.

But Iím not involved with her husband. Remotely. We work in the same department, but do not have anything more than a passing relationship. We converse occasionally but have never called each other or hung out outside of work. Honestly, I donít think weíve ever talked to each other for more than 15 minutes at a time.

I never said anything to anyone about the voice mail, but now Iím wondering if I should say something to my coworker in case she calls again, or if I see her at an office party and she tries to slit my throat or something. Then a big part of me thinks that saying something would only make it worse.

Should I continue to ignore it, or should I say something so he can clear up whatever it is he needs to clear up with his wife? óDeena

Tell your coworker about it. If youíre concerned about his wife continuing to harass you, you gotta tell him.

Itís possible that your coworker likes you (in a friendly way) and maybe mentioned you in passing to his wife and sheís just crazy and jealous. Or maybe heís actually cheating on her with someone from work and she got sent to the wrong voicemail. Regardless, itís not your problem.

I would just visit your coworkerís cubicle, let him know that she called you and what she said, and ask that he speak to his wife about it because youíre not into getting threatening voicemails about something you didnít even do.

Natalie Dee is a Columbus-based artist and writer whose work can be seen at To Ask Natalie, e-mail

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