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Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

"Best Western Inn" Desk Clerk in City of Beaver Dam, WI

"Job Title: Front Desk Clerk

Accepting applications for part time front desk clerk having smart personality with excellent customer care skills. Candidate must be able to work flexible shifts including weekends and most holidays.

Apply in person at:

Best Western Campus Inn

815 Park Avenue

Beaver Dam,WI

Compensation: part-time"

Considering how many job seekers inquire at hotel desks in a given week, it speaks volumes about management’s distaste for existing applicants. I suppose the Beaver Dam manager tired of the same chronically unemployed applicants month after month and hence decided to advertise as far away as Madison (about 40 miles away), a city which has plenty more hotels to hire front-desk workers before they contemplate an hour commute to Beaver Dam.

I understand the requirement of a top-shelf attitude towards helping the customer because when did admitting to having only “great customer service skills” ever suffice, outside of pizza places having a minimum wait time of 20 minutes? However, the job poster asks for not only the typical “excellent customer care skills” but also for a “smart personality.” There are clearer phrases to communicate the intent of the job poster such as “intuitive sense of decorum” or “readily notices customers before they try to get your attention.”

As worded, the job vacancy might be interpreted as being intended for “smarty pants” or otherwise sarcastic individuals. I believe this is what most people think of when hearing or reading the phrase “smart personality.” A requirement of above-average intelligence would be a waste of human capital because there isn’t much for a desk worker to learn once he or she has memorized hotel policies, which should nonetheless be written in an easily accessible manual and tend to change anyway. I hence believe that “common sense” is the meaning intended by use of the phrase “smart personality.”

Irrespective of descriptive semantics, the job poster and many other human resources staff believe they can accurately assess applicant adequacy (alliteration aside) via a snap judgment or once-over of an in-person applicant. (It’s a good thing those HR folks aren’t court judges!) The requirement to apply in person is supposed to be a behavioral interview in itself. The hiring manager would do well to act like an angry customer when someone requests a job application because how someone responds to people who act like jerks is a fairly accurate measure of how the applicant will act behind your back when hired.

To truly test for whether the applicant embodies savoir faire, esprit de corps, and a bunch of other personality concepts clich├ęd into French terms to sound more sophisticated than they are, it would be wise for the manager to act out some scenarios in real time to see the responses and composure of the applicant. While typically only luxury hotel managers actually use the aforementioned French terms, I apply them to this job vacancy because many hiring managers of economy chains such as Best Western Inn hold the same cavalier attitude, as evinced by including the obnoxious term “smart personality” in the job description for a doormat position such as desk clerk.

I know that hotel maids are technically below desk clerk in terms of authority, but those workers have the privilege of requesting the room occupant to leave for a room cleaning or to skip a room until the occupants leave. Hence, the desk clerk is least sheltered from customer demands and hence should not have a “smart” or skeptical attitude but instead believe the customer and kowtow to whatever extent necessary.

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