Hello, I was hoping someone would help me out with this interview/company selection question.

Almost ten years ago, I started a business. I was exceptionally successful but was burnt out after five and sold it for just enough to get out from under it.

I took a job for a company in the same field because the person I was going to work for was great. After a month, a string of promotions left me working for someone awful. I went from calling the shots to having a guy who literally patted me on the head in front of the entire office.

To get out of that, I took a temp job. After six months, I was given a letter of recognition for exceptional work when the project shut down as expected.

I started another little business just to pay the bills. After about two years, I shut that down to move out of state.

Over the past two years, I have had four jobs. I asked a lot of relevant questions and on all four was mislead. I'm certain I was outright lied to. The ethics of the establishments were evil. The effort to rob customers was so pervasive, I left each of them. With every job, I learned and asked more questions but there was just more lies.

In my last job, I went back to my original trade. I took the job based on all the great things they said and, most importantly, I wanted to work for the guy I was to be working under. Within a month of my hire, he gets promoted and they're wanting me to take his position. I didn't want the job for a number of reasons. The thing that gets me though is that the owner of the company came out to a site to interview me. All told, I had three formal interviews and one informal meeting with different levels of management which was very strange for the job.

So the offer of promotion comes through and I tell the super who I came on board with "This was in the works from the beginning wasn't it?" He doesn't answer. So here I am getting the short end again. I interviewed for a trade position not a supervisory position. Even without interviewing for it, I could see that it would of been too difficult considering the culture.

I turn it down and tell them that I'll hang out to see who my new boss is and if I'm not compatible, I'll be moving on shortly after.

All's well and fine. The person they were forced to bring in wasn't ideal in any sense of the word except for a pulse. I went ahead made plans to move out of state and gave notice. My old super apoligized for the situation, I got a letter of reference.

This is about two months ago. Now, no one from the company returns my calls. I have a letter which is nice (I think).

What should I do? I can't be hirable by any decent company with this laundry list. (Which reminds me. One of the managers when I turned down the promotions says "well you can't go around with another short term job on your resume." What kind of people do these things?)

How do you explain two years of garbage for work history? It's not like my resume's getting me any interviews.

Any help from those who've endured this book would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

ashdenver's picture

This is probably not the best advice you'll get here so take it for what it's worth ...

* working on projects including X, Y and Z for companies A, B and C

AaronJ's picture

Yeah, I've thrown that sort of thing around a little. For my businesses, I have a file cabinet filled with documentation. I don't know how I'd support such a claim for the last two years...and I don't know if I really want to take that route.

I'm thinking that I'm destined for self-employment for the rest of my life. Though, I don't know how anyone can do it and make a living without working eighty hours a week. Taxes and costs that are all but required have always run over 50% of gross after materials, supplies and labor. It just doens't pay to even bother.

As a kid growing up in a factory town, no one ever mentioned that employers would lie to get you to work for them. It's just so far outside the realm of my values, it never occurred to me. It makes no sense. I'm totally up front that the reason I walked from other jobs is because of bad fit that could of been discovered had these questions been answered accurately.

I guess this is why country folk get taken when they go to the city!

Mark's picture
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I'm sorry, but it's too hard to make a recommendation here without knowing what you do.

Further, comments like you "can't be hirable" and "garbage", and the company was "forced to hire" make me think you're not seeing - and therefore not communicating - this situation as clearly as it could be.

Could you share a little more? Why the location moves?

And why is the company's not returning calls a problem? The "nice letter - is that not good enough?

Would like to help.


AaronJ's picture

Thanks for your time.

Question one: My trade is swimming pool contruction and renovation. Those first three jobs were sales.

Regarding comments: (With the intent to expose my understanding...which is admittedly limited.) "forced to hire" because I'm familiar with the field's demand for skilled people (at certain times of the year.) This guy really was the best available, but he was bad. I mean bad. You could see it in the interview that he just wasn't with it. When asked a question, he'd stare at you blank. After an uncomfortable time, he'd look into the distance. Then he'd answer the question but it'd just be in a way that the interviewers (I sat in for the technical questions) looked at each other a little dumbfounded.

I use "forced" because instead of growing or improving, you could tell that there was going to be problems from the start but there was no one else. I figure one could say that they weren't "forced" to do anything...but I'd kind of think of that as a change of definition...and would only require being "forced" to change positions in the story. Seems to me that they're forced to hire that guy if they want the best that was available...or they're forced to change some practices. Either way, something's forced if they want to stay in business.

Now that I write that and reread that part of the question, are you getting at my negativity about the situation? Like maybe I might be a little more productive if I spent my time finding the positives, I wouldn't be guaranteed negative results as I am now? If that's what you're saying, I can get on board with that. Makes a lot of sense. Tremendous sense.

Question two: Location moves. Brother, I am a hopeless romantic who's recovering from stupid decision making. Left home town because she wanted to move and I figured "why not?" We were very unhappy with the new place. Total culture shock. We saved up and moved again to a location that was a little more consistent with our maturing values.

I think it might be relevant. I want to go home. Come hell or high water, when the lease we're in is up, alone or with company, I'm going home. This is a great area, but I'm not going through another Christmas making out cards to people who I love and can't see. I made a terribly foolish decision...but I had to do it. I'm so much better for it...but I have to go home. I'm at the age where loved ones are starting to pass.

Question three: Is a nice letter good enough? I don't know. I just assumed--I mean, when I hired guys I would have--called the author of the letter. Isn't that how the background check works?...or was I violating etiquette to do that?

I forgot how revealing open ended questions were. Thanks.

Mark's picture
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Well said. I think we'd get along just fine. :wink:

I have two questions that are completely irrespective of any of the previous exchanges:

What do you want to do, and where do you want to do it? :idea:


AaronJ's picture

Hey Mark,

Thanks. It's funny how easy it is to get the gears turning in a different direction.

To answer you question, in a perfect world...I would sew. I would single-handedly launch a revolution in shirt making that demanded proper shoulder lines and arm lengths. The world would come to know who should wear a pointed collar or a spread and I would make anything in between and beyond to accomodate the appearance of those who didn't fit the standard. Yes, I'd sew...and people would feel better about themselves because they never knew they could look so good...

For fun (and more work which I love), I'd teach martial arts a few days a week. I have all my stuff to start a little dojo.

My perfect world would be a dilapidated little epicenter of crime...where the crack-cocaine moves like a rock slide and you have to wade through stray bullets to smell the pollution...Detroit, MI. Actually, I'd be thirty miles out from Detroit where it's some of the most beautiful country God blessed us with.

People always said "the ocean...don't you want to see the ocean..." I'd respond,"Why, you think it's going to look different than the lakes? Have you ever seen lake Michigan or Superior?" "Well yeah, but it'd different when it's the ocean!"

No it's not. The difference is that no one stands close to you when you're on the beach of the lakes...and if you stand too close to them they give you a dirty look. We don't have mountains back home which I'll miss...but we have the U.P.--eh?--where there's enough snow you can build a mountain.

Home, my friend. That's where I'd be.

In the meantime, next to sewing, my next love is sales. Nothing makes me happier than making people happy...and putting on a show...When I start to shake it, because I'm sincere, people have to buy from me...and I want them to buy from me because I really have their best interest at heart.

Well, I guess that's the dramatic long of it. I want to go home to MI and I want to sew, but I'd be very content selling forever and just sewing as a hobby next to martial arts.

Mark's picture
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Move to Detroit, and either find a job that pays very low bills so you can sew on the side (these jobs don't require annoying questions regarding job history), or live with someone else for a while and eat oatmeal for 2 meals a day, and sew...while selling what you make.

I'll order 5 shirts right now, and 10 more if I like them. Your competition is Brooks Brothers custom.

Tell me where to mail the check.


AaronJ's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]Move to Detroit, and either find a job that pays very low bills so you can sew on the side (these jobs don't require annoying questions regarding job history), or live with someone else for a while and eat oatmeal for 2 meals a day, and sew...while selling what you make.

I'll order 5 shirts right now, and 10 more if I like them. Your competition is Brooks Brothers custom.

Tell me where to mail the check.


LOL. Thanks, Mark. You've given me exactly what I needed the first time I jumped in the implied--atleast perceived implication--"What the hell are you waiting for?"...and you pointed out the same conditions I created last time I made it happen...roommate and lowest cost food (I rotate rice, oatmal and pasta...and some eggs for protein!)

Shoot, you buy fifteen shirts, and you ain't got to mail nothing...I'll be at your house measuring for Brooks Brothers prices!

Seriously though, I've done this before. I'm not a rabbit trying to attack a tiger's meal...or mom'n'pop crying because WalMart came in and they can't conduct business the same old bad way...No, BB and their direct competition not only make a beautiful product, but they have branding. The only way to compete on their field without that reputation is to outprice them or out brand them...Give the appearance of superiority in being small...but you have to be top-notch for that...I'm not there by any means. The quality of my work could compete, but [i]I[/i] don't have the quality in terms of website (the BB site has to be the most beautiful site I've ever seen) and store front...or back...or upstairs:)

Here's my niche (I share it openly rather than keeping it a secret until it's let out by customers because I'd rather see an explosion in the quality of clothing by free-market entreprenuers (sp?) and risk competition), BB and the rest are using a misnomer. They're not "digital tailors." They're selling semi-fitted clothing...Which is huge, for sure...because it's better than what's out there. However, it's not the best...and until they set up local shops in every single community, they're not going to sell the best because it's not truly tailored...truly fitted...I guess in this instance, you might say "shirtiered" :)

They give you the option for a spread or pointed on their website without saying "hey, dippy, read this before you click: Which collar suits me best." Even if they jumped some hurdles and arrived at the point of a significantly more-custom fit, how are they going to help you decide between the dozen generic collars between the extremes? How are they going to help you decide how close that collar joint should be? How are they going to adjust the collar's drop from back to front to accomodate your body?...How are they going to make you the man that every turns their heads when you walk in the room...Or! Be the guy no one really notices walk in the room because you don't like the attention, but when people do look, they're impressed but can't tell why?

Mark, I've seen the light...I have the niche and the experience to bring it...and that's what I'm about to do.

Thank you so much.

AManagerTool's picture

How [u]do[/u] you decide what kind of collar suits you?

garyslinger's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

[quote="mahorstman"]I'll order 5 shirts right now, and 10 more if I like them. Your competition is Brooks Brothers custom.

And once you're settled in and ready, I'm in for some shirts too.


WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

I never knew. Looks like I need some shirt advice too!

James Gutherson's picture

Can I suggest a small 'MT' logo emborided in the cuff. Something subtle, like white on white.

AaronJ's picture

You guys are too generous. Seriously, when I started sewing about five years ago, I was just patching holes...and maybe I made a custom pouch for my tool belt (LOL. It was awful...but I learned a lot from it.) I started trying to alter my own clothes to fit better...From there I started using patterns.

What I found is that even the best pattern, including the ones developed off your personal measurements (when limited to four or five measurements), are a starting point. To overcome the lack of proper fit, BB and the like add extra material to compensate for imperfection...which frequently is a significant imperfection in itself. The number of measurements required and the "sense" required (in the absence of a properly developed set of equations) to overcome variations like how you hold your shoulders--rounded to the front or erect like a soldier--makes internet transactions based on the measurements currently in use an improvement over store bought, but if you want something that's going to make you "pop," when you walk in the room, you have to go to the next level.

Unless you're one of the very lucky few whose body their patterns (whether you're buying a shirt or a pattern for a shirt, the problems are the same) are based on, you need another fitting after you get the shirt...and even then, alteration will be very limited before the investment to alter exceeds the cost of bespoke.

So what's a guy to do? Me being very sensitive to the effect of seemingly minor lines on appearance and not finding patterns that fit my needs (ti te tee), I developed a system to make patterns. (There are other systems, but they have weaknesses...that comes out in over the internet purchases.)

If I sold over the internet, I would sell the same mistakes others sell. I aim to start a revolution...

In regard to selecting collars: Wide head, spread. Long head, pointed.

9/10 you'll look just fine following that advice. However, if you're one of the many who don't have just this or just that, you need something between a full blown point or spread.

For example, spend an evening watching Fox news. Start with Cavuto and you'll notice two things. First, he has a very soft looking face. He's a normal guy who's about fifty, sixty pounds overweight who'd "look" alright if he had the right support...However, he chooses a hair style that further exacerbates the chubby curvature. That's bad...but then he goes for the kill by wearing a pinned collar. He does double duty damage with it. First, he adds curved lines at the collar with the pin to draw more pudge out...But It Also! Narrows the collar moreso like a pointed causing a widening appearance of his cheeks!

Now this guy has a money-making recipe that I don't know...maybe being extra pudgy looking than need be is part of it...But I want to be pretty...and everyone, no matter what can look good if they have the right lines and balance.

Next, O'Reilly comes on. O'Reilly wears a shirt that's custome made for him...Look at that collar. O'Reilly's a big guy...I think he's 6'5" or so. He's huge. Being that size, at 6' myself I know, your head is commensurate with your body. If he wore something out of the store--same as me--witha standard collar, he would have problems. His head is wide and long...and this is where the custom collar demonstrates it's power. O'Reilly has a collar that is bigger than anything you'll find in the store...and it's neigher pointed or spread...It's one of the hybrids I called generic earlier. It balances the two attributes.

There's more to that collar than meets the eye...but I'll save you the bandwidth.

Finally, you have Hannity and Colmes which is beautiful for our illustration. Hannity has a thicker build. Colmes is narrow. With the info I've given, watch and see what the effects of collars are. You watch that show for a week and see you'll (apparently no one gives them direction on how to dress because there's no consistency) see the effect on appearance as those guys change collars. Pay special attention to Colmes. He'll come on one day with a full score pointed, the next will be a bull bore spread. You'll be shocked.

Or...just go to the store and pull a few of each off the shelf and try them on. You'll see the difference.

Color has an effect, pocket size, yolk size...everything plays into it...but, if you're not wearing a jacket...dont' wear white...Please.

TSY1512's picture
Training Badge

Aaron - Do you also make women's shirts? If not now, how about in the future?

Just asking because I'm also a fan of Brooks Brothers shirts. The standard non-iron fitted shirts for women are my favorites. Brooks Brothers custom shirts would be a splurge for me, but definitely something on my wish list.


dhkramer's picture

[quote="AaronJ"] ...but, if you're not wearing a jacket...dont' wear white...Please.[/quote]

But...I like white.

AaronJ's picture

They're more complicated, but I have...By the sounds of it, I'd be foolish not to do something a little more generic until I'm full bore on bespoke...

"but I like white..."

LOL. So do I, but I didn't make the rules. Go with color if you're not wearing a jacket.

davidleeheyman's picture
Licensee Badge

I think you'd really enjoy [url=]Ask Andy[/url]. I found it when I was considering getting some tailored shirts and a suit in Bangkok and wanted to understand what to ask for. In the end the whole thing overwhelmed me and I grabbed something from Men's Warehouse. *duck*

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

A nice thread for Christmas time. Well done folks.


dhkramer's picture


"but I like white..."

LOL. So do I, but I didn't make the rules. Go with color if you're not wearing a jacket.[/quote]

Look, I'd like to wear a jacket, but I'm in California, and wearing a suit here is like wearing a tuxedo in New York.

Who did make this rule of which you speak?

6 out of 6 replies on yahoo answers say white dress shirt without a jacket is fine for business casual.

Mark's picture
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All by yahoos, apparently. The Wisdom of Crowds rule has important limits that most people don't get. On the internet, they can't tell you're not a dog.

As a general rule - though it is a FASHION and STYLE rule - not an etiquette or gentleman's rule - white shirts are not recommended without a jacket.

On the other hand, there are HUNDREDS of such rules. Fashion is complex, and quite frankly a bridge too far for most.

I would be fine with a junior person wearing a white shirt without a jacket..and certainly that's true in California.

The people who made the rule are all patriarchs and matriarchs of families worth billions and who are generally in favor of noblesse oblige. But perhaps most importantly, the people who AGREE WITH and LIVE BY the rule are the ones who exert extraordinary influence over career paths, promotions, and power in large organizations.

They may not be "right"...but the rules they make matter, whether many of us know it or not.


AaronJ's picture

[quote="dhkramer"]Look, I'd like to wear a jacket, but I'm in California, and wearing a suit here is like wearing a tuxedo in New York.

Who did make this rule of which you speak?

6 out of 6 replies on yahoo answers say white dress shirt without a jacket is fine for business casual.[/quote]

Mark gave you the professional's perspective. I'll add the nobody-who's-concerned-with-appearance perspective.

In regard to the yahoo people, be cautious who's advice you accept...if someone will not be facing repercussions for their decision, my experience has been that they don't put the most consideration into the question.

When I want advice, I find an expert. (Hence, I arrived at MT for job hunting advice...I didn't seek out fellow job-seekers to give me the inside track on HR...I sought HR people.) Even with that, I'm still cautious about the advice...Although, with the help of Mark--which I'm extremely greatful for--I'm laying out the groundwork for breaking into a market I've been thinking about for a couple years and I'm going back home...I didn't accept the advice wholesale. I adapted it to fit the factors that weren't expressed...but in the end, no matter what, it's me. I always run advice through my BS detector...and the first sniffer is asking "who's the source?" If I don't know or they're suspicious, all other sniffers are on high alert.

I'm not suggesting you do, but have you looked into light weight, light color suits? Are you outside a lot...if not, couldn't you carry your jacket while outside? I really don't know, I'm just curious.

Who made the rules? As Mark mentioned, rules of style are numerous. Without going further into theories of style, I'll also offer my perspective as it relates to the subject at hand...which doesn't demand much from anyone.

Like your choice of collar, colors have an amazing effect on appearance. The rule/statement "don't wear a white shirt without a jacket" is because you have so many options in color to make you look better that you're really doing yourself a disservice by not choosing a shirt that costs the same and takes you from looking three stars to looking four stars.

The question isn't "who made the rules." The question is "Do I want nice skin tones to come out?" "Do I want the color of my eyes to work for me?"

As I think Mark alluded, no one's going to snicker behind your back because you chose white. If you walked by me, I'd shrug and remember that the revolution is only beginning...I might even pass you a card.

Yosithezet, thanks for the link! That forum is great!