Advice for Jacob

D. E. Larsen, DVM

“There is a young man out front who is wondering if you are hiring anyone,” Sandy said. “My guess is he is fatherless. At least, he has never had any discussion on job hunting. We are open for the next couple of appointments. Why don’t you go out and help him out a little.”

“Okay, it will take me a couple of minutes to finish up treat this cat, and I will be out,” I said.

When I walk out to the reception area, Sandy introduced me. I could tell that she was determined to take this kid under our wing, even if it was just for a few minutes.

“Jacob, this is Dr. Larsen,” Sandy said.

I walked up to Jacob and waited a moment for him to extend his hand. When he did not raise a hand, I reached out with my hand.

“Good morning, Jacob,” I said. He did take my hand and gave a limp shake, trying to avoid direct eye contact. “What can I do for you today?”

“Aw, I was wondering if you were hiring anyone?” Jacob said, shuffling his feet and looking more at the floor than at me.

  “We don’t have a job today, but we are always willing to keep a resume on file for future openings,” I said.

“Okay,” Jacob said as he turned to leave.

“Wait a minute, Jacob,” I said. “How long have you been looking for a job?”

“I have been looking after school for several weeks now,” Jacob said. “But nobody is hiring right now.”

“I have a few minutes right now,” I said. “Why don’t we step into my office for a few minutes, and I will go over a couple of things with you.”

I lead Jacob back to my office and move a stack of books from the guest chair.

“Have a seat,” I said as I cleared a small space on my desk for a notepad. “They say that a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind. Or something like that. Mine is always a mess.”

Jacob sits down but doesn’t respond to my drivel. He is looking at the corners of the ceiling as if he is checking for cobwebs. Probably doesn’t have to look too hard.

“Jacob, if you have been looking for a job for three weeks and you haven’t found anything, you are doing something wrong. I want to solve all your problems in the next few minutes.”

“I guess that would be good,” Jacob says.

“I am going to take notes, so you just have to listen,” I said. “Can you do that?”

“Yes, I am a pretty good listener,” Jacob says. “I have three sisters, so I don’t get much of a chance to say anything.”

“I understand that,” I said. “I am going to give you a list of instructions when we are done, but before we do that, let’s cover a couple of basics. The first is handshaking. When you meet someone, every time, you extend your hand to shake. Even if it is a lady. You grab their hand firmly like you would if you were going to help up off the floor. Then one shake is adequate. But just as important, you couple that shake with direct eye contact. You try to make sure you can remember what color their eyes are. If it is the first meeting, you introduce yourself before you let go of their hand. Got it.”

“I think so,” Jacob said.

“We will practice that before you leave,” I said. “Then second, you need to hand them a resume. You can get a book from the school library that will tell you how to write a resume. At your age, it doesn’t have to say much. But it does have to say your name and address, and contact information. Maybe say what your interest are and your best classes in school. Don’t say you are a hard worker. You need to show that. And you need to show that you will show up for work every day and that you will be on time every day.”

“How do I show those things?” Jacob asked.

“You need to consider you already have a job,” I said. “That job is finding yourself a job. You need to pick out three places in town where you would like to work. It would be good if you had something specific to offer those places, but that is not vital. You pick three places, walk-in, and ask to talk to the boss if possible. If you can’t talk to the boss, talk to someone. Shake their hand, introduce yourself and look them in the eye. Then you say you need a job and you would like to work for them. And you hand them a copy of your resume.”

“How do I know if they are hiring?” Jacob asked.

“It doesn’t matter, you say,’ I need a job, and I would like to work for you.’ Then you listen. The boss will say we don’t have a job right now, but they will keep your resume on file. You say, thank you, I will check back.”

“On day one, you repeat that process at those three places that you picked out. Space out your time, so you are not rushed between the places. Then on day two, you check back. You say, ‘I am just checking on that job.’ They will say there’s nothing yet. And then you check back on the other two places.”

“Aren’t they going be bothered by my checking back?” Jacob asked.

“You check back, at the same time, at each of those places, every day. Every day for at least two weeks before you consider changing places. If they tell you not to come back, you still come back, ‘just to check.’ One day, you will walk into one of those places, and someone will have not shown up for work, or was late, or had called in sick, and the boss had seen him heading down to the river to fish. That day, you will have that guy’s job. I can almost guarantee you will find a job in those two weeks.”

“So why are you helping me?” Jacob asked.

“I am helping you because Sandy thinks you need help. Sandy is your ally. You need to recognize those types of people when you are job hunting because they will bend the boss’s ear on your behalf.”

“Okay, I will try this for a couple of weeks,” Jacob said.

“Here are my notes. You read them over and prepare a resume before you start. If you need any help with the resume, Sandy can help.”

Jacob stood to leave.

“Now we need to practice the handshake,” I said. “You take my hand and pull me up out of this chair.”

I held out my hand. Jacob took it, gripped it firmly, and pulled me up out of the chair. 

“See, that is a firm handshake. Many men my age will judge you instantly on that handshake.”

“Okay, thanks,” Jacob said.

“Jacob, what color are my eyes?” I asked.

Jacob finally looked me in the eye. “Blue,” he said.


It was just over a week later when I noticed Jacob out in the lobby. I went out to see how things were going. He extended his hand.

“I just wanted to come by and say thanks for all you have done,” Jacob said. “I have a job down at the auto parts store. It happened exactly like you said it would happen.”

“That’s great, Jacob,” I said.

“Mom said that you taught me stuff that a father should teach a son,” Jacob said. “My father died when I was six years old. Thanks again.”

Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

2 thoughts on “Advice for Jacob

  1. This touched my heart. It is so easy to help someone but we so often pass up those opportunities. You probably changed that boy’s life forever. Thank you for taking the time talk with him. Indeed you helped where he no longer had a father. Thank You.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you Sandy, and you, Dave, for being there for that boy. There is an old saying, “Give a man a fish he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” You taught that boy how to fish when his own father could not. A man doesn’t have to be dead either, not to be able to help his children.

    Liked by 2 people

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