Polishing Apples and Looking for Work

By Bob Presley

A young man asked an old, and very rich man, “Sir, how did you accumulate all that money?”

The old guy fingered his expensively tailored, worsted wool vest and said, “Well, son, it was 1932, at the depth of the Great Depression. I was out of work and down to my very last nickel. I invested that nickel in an apple and spent the entire day polishing it.  By the end of the day, that was the most beautiful, delicious looking apple you could imagine.  I sold that apple for ten cents, doubling my investment.”

“The next morning, I used that dime to buy two apples, and spent the entire day polishing. At the end of the day, once again, I sold those apples for ten cents each, increasing my wealth to 20 cents.  I continued this system for a month, at the end of which I had accumulated a vast fortune of $6.40.  Then, a life-changing event occurred.  My mother-in-law died and left my wife five million dollars.

You might well ask, “What’s the point of that crazy story?”  Here’s the poin:  If you’re unemployed, unless your mother-in-law is really old, and very rich, you’d better get busy polishing apples.  The Job Search Survival Team will show you how.

Through the process of buying, polishing and selling those apples, what was this depression-era young man involved in doing?  Right.  It’s called marketing.  And, if you are currently unemployed, the product to be marketed is you.


When you go into a store to buy, a suit or dress for example, what’s your concern?  You’re thinking, “Is this a good quality product?  Is it well made by experienced craftsmen? Is it a good fit for me?  Is the price right?  Is this suit going to make me look good? ”

When you interview for a job, that employer’s thinking is very similar. “Does this applicant have good skills?  What previous accomplishments give evidence of that?  Does he/she have good experience in this field?  Is he/she a good fit for the opening we have?  Is the price right?  Will I get a good return for the salary, training and benefits I will invest in this person?  If I hire this guy, will his job performance make me look good?”


In a successful job interview, you must give the potential employer solid evidence that his company will benefit by hiring you.  That’s called marketing.


In selling anything, the product features are important, but merely reciting the features won’t convince most people.  In any marketing campaign, we start with product features, but we don’t stop there.  We also want to communicate to the prospective customer how those features will benefit him or her, creating a desire to buy or, in this case, a desire to hire.  And, like a 30-second TV or radio commercial, you don’t have much time to gain attention and make your point.

Here’s how to polish your apple:


First, do your homework. Before you make the call, educate yourself concerning the company, their industry and requirements of the job position for which you’re applying.  Get a good understanding of the company’s needs and wants.  Then plan, in advance, how you will emphasize your skills, experience, accomplishments and personal attributes, presenting those as the answer to the company’s needs.

Lower barriers and create trust. Unless an employer is comfortable with you as a person, you are not likely to get the job.  No matter how good your job skills might be, you must first sell yourself, and then sell the job-related skills you offer.


Differentiate yourself from the competition. Tell them what makes you a better choice.  Elevate yourself from the status of a commonplace commodity to a one-of-a-kind rare find. But, do that carefully.  Nobody likes a braggart.  Don’t exaggerate.  Don’t oversell.


Make Yourself Memorable.  Influence what the interviewer remembers most about you.  In advertising, we don’t try to tell the audience everything there is to know about a product.  We emphasize, and drive home, our message about those product features that will fulfill the customer’s needs.  In like manner, by demonstrating your knowledge of his industry, and your understanding of his company, tell the employer what you can do to satisfy his needs.

If you’re unemployed, and interested in learning more about how to polish your apples, that is, how to make your experience, skills, accomplishments and personal attributes more attractive in the job search, there’s a group of volunteers in the Sugar Land area who can offer you lots of valuable advice.  And, their service is free of charge.


In response to the problem of increased unemployment during these hard times of recession, several volunteers in the Sugar Land area have joined forces to do whatever they can to help their jobless neighbors.  They call themselves The Job Search Survival Team.

Participants are offered instruction on everything from development of their “elevator speech”, to networking and telemarketing skills, researching prospective employers, the writing of their resume, job search planning, interviewing and other skills related to finding a job.  The entire curriculum of classes can be completed over three successive half-day sessions, which are conducted each Wednesday morning.  Classes are repeated for the benefit of new participants, who may join the group at any point in the process.


Upon completion of the suggested class work, each participant is then encouraged to join an ongoing “Job Search Support Group”, which affords him/her the opportunity to discuss, network, share job leads and gain support and encouragement from other participants.


Sugar Creek Baptist Church has donated the use of its LYF Center, 13444 Southwest Freeway, just south of Highway 90A, and next door to Bally Fitness Center. The weekly meetings are held each Wednesday morning, and are open to anyone wanting to learn ways to make their job search more effective.  Pre-registration is not necessary. Doors open for registration at 8:30am, the Job Search Survival classes and the support group are conducted from 9:00am till Noon.


For more information, email the Job Search Survival Team at:  jobsearchsurvival@gmail.com or the website http://www.jobsearchsurvival.com

About the Author – Bob Presley

In a professional career spanning more than 40 years, Bob gained extensive experience in radio and television communications, advertising, sales, sales management, marketing and business coaching.  He retired from CBS Radio in 1997 as General Sales Manager of CBS-owned Houston radio stations, KILT and KIKK.  In addition to his Job Search Survival duties, Bob serves as a SCORE volunteer and teaches a Bible class at Sugar Creek Baptist Church.  He and his wife, Coeta, have 2 children and 2 granddaughters.