February 25th, 2010



In the last three jobs I've had, I have been a part of the hiring process . For about eight years, I've sorted resumes, interviewed, collected references and generally been the first point of contact for candidates. I’m the person who looks at your resume and decides if you go in the interview pile or in the recycle bin. Here’s the thing, if I pick you out of the pile, I have to explain to my boss why I did so. If I put you in the bin, I don’t have to tell him anything. Make it easy for me to explain, and you help yourself get hired.

My most recent experience has made it clear that there are some people, some qualified, intelligent people, that are totally fucking themselves over when it comes to getting hired. They are fucking themselves so thoroughly, so soundly, so completely, that it’s like they took all their hard earned qualifications and dumped a pile of shit on them. "Here," they say, "HAVE THIS SHIT PILE. I PROMISE THERE ARE QUALIFICATIONS UNDERNEATH" Let me tell you right now – shit piles go in the bin and I do not think about it or feel sorry for anybody.

So, as your friendly neighborhood information sharing blogger, I’d like to take a few minutes to discuss a few points that may help you not to stab yourself in your own eye the next time you apply for a job.

I shall title this:


1. The Much-Discussed Motherfucking Resume (from heeeellll)
  1 to 2 pages. If you just graduated from school – one page. ONE PAGE. Fucking fit it in. ONE FUCKING PAGE. It really isn’t that hard. There are a bunch of goddamned templates out there on the internet. Fucking google it and copy paste to your hearts delight. One page. ONE .


  It is an academic position. Which, unless it is an academic position I DO NOT FUCKING CARE WHAT CLASSES YOU TOOK. Don’t care. Really. If you have skills from those classes, write them down in another section labeled “SKILLS”. Also, I seriously do not care what grades you got in those classes no I do not.

  You are like, 35+ and you have lots of experience. Then go ahead and do two pages.

  If you have to, for some god damned dumb ass reason that is EVEN NOW hurting my eyes, have like a five page resume that has everything you ever did for every job you did on it, write page numbers on them, so that when my Director drops them on the floor (WHICH HE WILL) I can pick them up and reassemble them in some semblance of order.

  Education First. If I don’t see your education front and fucking center, I’m going to assume you don’t have any. Which is fine, but, you know, if you have it, list it first. Don’t list high school if you went to college. Come on.

  GAPS IN EMPLOYMENT ARE BAD – Think about it this way, who is going to make the final decision on you? It’s going to be some senior executive, likely from a privileged background who went to fancy school and who has always worked because of his ability to “pull himself up by his bootstraps” and he thinks that anyone out of work can’t possibly be “trying” or whatever. When you are out of work, volunteer someplace doing something, even if it’s only for a couple hours a week. Then put that under EXPERIENCE. You don’t have to say you weren’t paid unless they ask. And, in my experience, they’ve never ask. 

  Tailor to the job. Really. Yes, I know it's obnoxious. My director spends about 20 seconds looking at the resumes I pick out for him. And he’s busy. And it’s 6:00pm and he’s thinking about the huge project we are working on which is the reason we need to hire someone else and not the fact that you once worked at a job doing a bunch of things that are unrelated to anything we’d like you to do JUST CONFUSES HIM. Read the fucking job description that I put up, and then tailor your goddamned resume to fit the position. PLEASE don’t confuse my boss. It makes everyone cry. Making the office cry gets your application shoved in the bin because we don't like to bring up bad memories.

  At the last job we were hiring for, we wanted someone with HTML skills - fine – well, a bunch of people sent in resumes that had Java and C++ on them but no HTML – which seemed weird to me, but we called in a few for an interview, turns out they fucking know HTML but they didn’t put it on their resume. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? TO YOURSELF? They nearly got shredded for that. And by shredded, I mean I put resumes in the fucking shredder because they didn’t have the skills we listed. Maybe those folks did have those skills, but if you don’t list them, we won’t fucking know, will we?

2. Your Stupid Cover Letter 

  Lots of people don’t write these. Which is dumb – unless you don’t really want the job. You don’t want the job, fine, cool, take your chances and just send in your stupid five page 14 point font comic sans resume. If you write one of these things, you should know that I am going to read it, the executive is going to skim it, and you will need to spend a couple hours on it. NOT FAIR? I know. It’s not fair. But still.

  Do NOT write general letters. Take some time, do a little research on us and direct your letters to us. If you have a friend or know someone that works for us – good. If you can show us that you can use google to look us up, you should freakin’ do that. Yes, it takes more time, but it makes a difference.

3. Interview: Even if the office seems casual, wear a fucking suit.

  There was this totally great lady that once applied for a job a couple years ago at my last office and she showed up in an old sweater and slacks. It made me really sad, because otherwise, she was perfect, but my very picky boss at the time perceived her as “sloppy”. Here’s the thing, lots of offices are getting more and more casual – but when you are interviewing, you must not be casual, you must be more formal, you must look shinier than everyone else who is applying for the job.

  When they think about the four or five people they interviewed, they are totally going to judge you on appearances. Not fair? True, it’s not fair. I’m not saying the best looking person always gets the job, but the best dressed always has a leg up on all the others. Suit. Even if you have to borrow or rent it. Just get a motherfucking suit.

4. Enthusiasm - be energetic, friendly, enthusiastic, and ready to go.

  When you get to the interview stage, basically it means that they think you are qualified for the job. At this point, you just have to prove that you are going to be decent for us to spend 7+ hours a day with. No one was booted out of the interview faster than one woman who came in with a grumpy attitude. I kept thinking “WHY ARE YOU SO ANGRY?” To this day, I have no idea.

  If you aren't good at interviews, fucking practice. Get a friend, and have them ask you all kinds of questions –from the screwball to general questions about your resume. Practice your handshake. My workplace right now has advice for hiring officers ONLINE where EVERYONE CAN READ it! If you googled us properly, you could look up the QUESTIONS WE WILL ASK YOU. Lots of big companies have this. And lots of hiring officers pull questions from online too – pull a bunch of questions from online and just sit down with a friend and come up with answers on the fly.

  Yes, you should be ready for the whole “What’s the worst thing about you ?” question. Nearly everyone asks a variant on this. This question has not just one, but several correct answers. AND HERE THEY ARE:

      - UNRELEATED TO JOB ANSWER: “I don’t call my mother enough. I should call her more.”
      - THE ANSWER EVERYONE USES: “I work too hard!”
      - THE WHAT I LEARNED ANSWER: “Well, in my last job, I tried to take on too much by myself, but then I learned to ask for help and now I am so awesome it hurts me, physically, I have to see doctors about it.”

  When you apply for a job, and then they e-mail you for some kind of follow up, you have 24 hours before they think that you are sloth of the Amazon jungle and put your resume in the bin and pretend they don’t know who you are when you call.

  Be nice to the receptionist. At all of the places where I’ve worked, the boss asks the receptionist “So, how did he treat you? Was she polite? Friendly? Charming?” A good impression with the receptionist goes MILES. After all, she could conveniently LOSE YOUR PAPERWORK if she doesn’t like your attitude and the boss will (I promise, they are busy) forget they ever met you.

5. Don't be afraid to ask for more money - really, ask for it - but only AFTER they offer, not before.

  You can always ask for more money than the initial offer. I have never seen a job pull the job away if someone asks for more on the first pass. Just ask, and likely, the will come back to you with a yes, or with another number that’s not your number, but more than their initial number. The likely hood of negotiation after this is pretty small, but you should always ask for more on the first pass. If they made you an offer, it’s because you are their favorite. You are their favorite for a reason. If they can’t give you more, they will say that, and then the ball is in your court again.

I hope that this was helpful. This is all based on my experiences hiring people in three different jobs, but everyone’s mileage may vary.