Give yourself an edge in the job market

Humor Column
These are tough economic times in America and elsewhere. If you’re like me, you’re saving money any way you can. I’ve cancelled my cable, invested in a good pair of binoculars and started watching my neighbor’s TV. Desperate times call for desperate 

In this harsh economic climate, it’s important to have a job, any job. But finding a job isn’t easy, especially since so many companies are giving their employees –- even the male ones –- pink slips. Competition for jobs is so intense that chess champ Vishwanathan Anand has been flooded with applications, all because someone wrote that he has “good openings.”Job search

With all the competition, it’s vital for job seekers to give themselves an edge. That’s why I’ve decided to offer a few tips to help people stand out from the crowd. Some of these tips may seem obvious, but, trust me, they’re often overlooked.

Tip #1: Learn to speak English. When the economy was strong, some folks were able to find decent jobs in America by knowing just three words of English: “Me want job.” Others, realizing the importance of grammar, tried a little harder: “Me wants job.”

These days, three words of English aren’t enough to secure a job in any
part of America outside Miami. Job seekers must learn at least six words, particularly these six: “Would you like fries with that?”

They may seem like easy words, but some immigrants really struggle with them. A few have been fired from fast-food restaurants for repeatedly asking customers, “Would you like flies with that?”

The restaurants, as you can imagine, received many customer complaints, such as the one from a West Virginia man who threw his meal at the manager, shouting: “I thought I was getting flies with my burger, not fries.”

Tip #2: Go easy on the tattoos and body piercing. Two or three are OK, but when your entire body is green, the only people you’re likely to impress are environmentalists. Well, perhaps a few others too, but they probably won’t offer you a job, unless one of them is a farmer and, with planting season coming around, needs another scarecrow.

(Yes, I know: some tattoos are works of art. In fact, Leonardo Da Vinci first tattooed the Mona Lisa on a friend’s backside. Unfortunately nipple rings weren’t common in those days, so he couldn’t hang his friend in a gallery.)

Tip #3: Put your best foot forward at the job interview. This can be hard, especially if your feet look the same. Your friends can probably help you figure out which foot is better, but if you’re still unsure, consult a podiatrist.

Tip #4: Dress for success. Too many people, unfortunately, dress for failure. Don’t expect Chase Bank to hire you if you’re wearing a T-shirt that says “Go bonkers!” The least you can do is change the second ‘o’ to an ‘a.’

Tip #5: Groom yourself well. If you’re a man, it’s probably a good idea to trim your nails, mustache and any unruly locks of nose hair. If you’re a woman, resist the temptation to dye your hair orange –- unless you’re applying for a job as a traffic cone.

Tip #6: Try to smell good. The most important thing you can do to smell good is take a bath, even if you’ve already taken one this year. You can practice water conservation AFTER the interview. A little perfume or cologne would also help, but don’t empty the bottle, unless you want to spend your day reviving the interviewer.

Tip #7: Do some research. Employers are impressed when you know something about them. You might want to find out, for example, what they do. Don’t ask the manager of Cracker Barrel how heavy the barrels are. And don’t ask the recruiter at Samsung what exactly it was that Sam sung.

Tip #8: Don’t do drugs. Most employers test for drugs and if you fail the test, you won’t get a second chance, unless you’re in the National Football League. If you like to get high several times a week, apply for a job as a flight attendant. It’s safer and it won’t deplete your bank account. Just be careful how you greet the passengers: “Good morning! Hope you have a good fright!”

Photo by Aaron Edwards


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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. man…. this one’s a whopper. your McD joke reminded me of a SURVEY about what was the most frequently asked question in the world. One of the candidates was “would you like fries with that?”…the crown came when the surveyor walked up to McD and said, “i want fries”… and the counter guy asked… you guessed it… “would you like fries with that?”

  2. Hilarious!!

  3. ROFL !! Really, how do you come up with such funny stuff.
    Thanks for the laughs! 😀

  4. Madhu Kopalle says:

    I thought you were losing it of late.
    But this one is good.
    Idea for hanging Leonardo’s work is
    hilarious and original.

  5. Great humor! What else will save us in these bleak times except an occasional laugh? Especially if it’s gallows humor.

  6. Hilarious! Thanks for making my day.
    (via email)

  7. Hilarious,
    …and dont ever ask someone if they are in the ‘pink’ of health.

  8. Gaurav Karunakar says:

    Super stuff! Here in India girls are sending pink underwear to that ‘moral policeman’, Muthalik, for Valentine’s Day.

  9. Absolutley hilarious!

  10. awesome post..really good. specially liked the part where we are to put our best foot forward but how do we do that since both are feet look the same!!! awesome!!!

  11. Thanks for cracking me up on this bloody Tuesday morning. I seek your humor for refuge from the dreary work days.

  12. simply LOVE ur work. go melvin!! 🙂

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