1166 How to Apply for a Job
A lot of employers these days are checking for padded resumes. It’s part of the job creators’ main goal, not creating jobs.
It makes no sense to tell them you graduated from Harvard if you only spent three semesters at Moote Pointe Community College. But there are some things you can do to burnish your employment application. (Note, application not app.)
It pays to understand the function of what we used to call personnel departments, which have morphed into human resources departments.
The function of personnel departments is to follow procedures and rules. Generally, they have no clue about what happens under their roofs.
It also pays to understand how employers evaluate applications. Usually, it’s by algorithm. So when you combine clueless and computers, what you get is a foot in the door. A real person won’t see molecule one until the gate keeping computer passes your application to them, especially in larger companies.
Computers are almost as rigid as rule-following personnel workers, but they’re easier to game.
First rule: don’t lie outright. But if you’re in any number of fields, primarily sales -- anything where commission was or could be part of your income -- you were self employed even if you had a full time commitment to one company at a time.
As such, you can list your employment as CEO or chairman or president or any other title you choose, because that’s what you were.
Don’t go overboard. Computers don’t like terms like “emperor” or “grand wizard” in places where you might ordinarily find “salesman” or “floor scrubber.”
Second Rule: The computer demands references, so give it references. But make them impossible to contact. Why? Because computers don’t call references or write or e-mail to them.
If you get to the personal interview stage, you can always say your references were outdated and here is my revised list. You thus have filled out the form to digital satisfaction.
How do you make those references hard to contact? Easy: supply names that are misspelled by a letter or two, preferably the first letters of first and last names. Thus Jim Dandy (real) becomes Tim Mandy. Make sure the names scan well. No strange spellings.
Supply a phone number you know hasn’t been in use for a while.
Again, you’re doing this to satisfy the requirements of a gate keeping computer. Automatic forms need something in every box.
Third rule: game the “test.” Big companies love tests. They can be scored electronically. But computers don’t read essays, they read blackened circles and checked boxes, so that’s how tests are formatted.
Companies generally ask questions that lead to a preconceived “ideal” employee. This fictional being is both a “team player” and a “self starter.” He or she puts “customer needs first” and also puts heavy emphasis on you not stealing paper clips or flash drives or bananas. So when answering questions like this, make sure you make it computer-clear that you’ve never even picked up and pocketed a penny on an employer’s floor.
Then there are those forms that state a situation (say, “if you know another employee who is slacking off, you report him to your supervisor, blah blah blah) and then gives you a series of possible responses starting with strongly agree to strongly disagree.
If the situation has anything to do with ways to help make a sale, always check “strongly agree.” If it has to do with your taking home printer paper, check “strongly disagree.”
For more vaguely worded statements, stay away from the extreme responses. But never check “neither agree nor disagree.”
Do not try to paint yourself as that “ideal” employee, because by definition you can’t be. Just settle for something close.
Some other tips:
--Be honest about your previous pay.
--Be realistic about your salary requirements. If you can type in “negotiable,” do so. That gets you wiggle room when you’re called in for the interview.
--Don’t lie about your ethnicity.
--If you can fill the thing out on your home computer, do so. The tests are long and fatiguing and if you need to take a break or spread the effort over a few days, it’s easier at home.
--Be honest about your available hours, especially if the company does business around the clock. (If you’re willing to work overnights and weekends, that gets their attention.)
Follow this advice and you’ll get the interview and maybe even the job. Your prospective employer probably will be a phony and maybe not even know it. So be a phony right back if you need to be. Remember, they got where they are by being sneaky and amoral while posing as benevolent. You can, too.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
© WJR 2013