How Not to Get a Job

from NYTs

What do a fragrance designer, New York City cop, bed-and-breakfast manager and youth hockey coach have in common?

Each of them recently applied for an account director position at my public relations firm, along with 500 others whose experience and skill sets ranged from vaguely on-point to off-the-charts irrelevant. Auto collections manager? Home health aide? Visual merchandiser? Count them all in.

It’s not that my postings on Indeed, LinkedIn and other career sites weren’t explicit in outlining desired qualifications. I added instructions urging candidates to contact us only if they had backgrounds in journalism, P.R. or law. There was nothing to suggest I was looking for a fiscal benefits analyst, emergency medical technician or brand ambassador, but they showed up anyway.

In part, the disconnect stems from a revved-up labor market that encourages job hopping and inflated credentials. It also reflects the vast online jobs marketplace, where restless applicants shoot off their résumés like one of those T-shirt cannons at a football stadium, firing without aiming. Not a single candidate bothered to look us up and refer to what we do in the cover note. Instead, they all invoked grand boilerplate statements meant to impress the hiring gods.

More here.

Posted in Careers and tagged , , .


  1. job market. As the millennial generation and those after it enter the work force, the attitude in regards to finding employment has shifted drastically, proportionate to the implementation of ever-increasingly omnipresent technology. As the article mentions, people now apply to jobs simply for the sake of applying for them on the basis of how easy it is to send out numerous applications. This notion, however, is prevalent in far more fields than the job market.

    Throughout my experience in high school and my (albeit limited) experience of college, students often join countless clubs simply to say they joined them, or to pad their resumes. Students would be involved in six or more programs, only half of which actually pertained to the field of study they would likely be pursuing in college. This is detrimental not only to the student, but to the club itself as well.
    As mentioned earlier, students will (more often than not) join excessive amounts of clubs so as to pad their resumes so as to appear to be superior candidates to the schools they are applying to (in the case of high school students). This over-commitment to various programs can be highly detrimental to students. In my experience, I have known peers whose mental health has been negatively affected on the basis of overreaching in terms of their day-to-day schedule. There oftentimes would simply not be enough hours in the day to do all that needed to be done in their academics, their multitude of clubs, and in their own personal lives. I have seen students’ grades suffer simply because their over-commitment to sports teams and student organizations take up far too much of their time.

    This is not even to mention the negative effects over-committed students have on the clubs they join. More serious student organizations such as student government, or DECA (or the equivalent; in my high school this was the competitive business club) have serious time commitments that they are quite up front about. Students will often take up involvement in the organizations with disregard to the rigor of the program, and then inevitably drop out. This can (and does) greatly affect the quality and productivity of the organization itself.

    • The first line should read, “This article speaks to many different aspects of the attitudes of the coming generation in regards to the job market.”

  2. I found this article very interesting and relevant today. I believe it comes down to several favors, one being a qualitative vs quantitative approach by job seekers. That is, many believe that the more job applications/resumes you get out there, the better your chances of receiving a call back; this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The problem is, as this article pointed out, is that there is a decentralized system that allows you to go all willy-nilly and easily blast your resume to a large amount of employers/job posting at a swipe of your finger. Each and every resume should be tailored to that position, job or skill-set; cookie-cutter resumes (and cover sheets) DO NOT WORK. Second, as the article mentioned, “Fluff” and jargon that is within your resume in an attempt to impress a recruiter/hiring manager can be quickly seen through and off to the “no thank you” pile your resume goes. I read another great article from Workopolis on this subject, and it mentioned that nearly 98% of job applicants for a position are eliminated at the first resume screening; leaving only 2% to actually make it to any type of interview (phone or in-person). It is vital that you curtail your resume and job experience to that exact position that you are applying for. If you have leadership or management experience, relate that experience to the position you are seeking and don’t over sell it (keep the fluff out). Ensure that you read the entire job posting from top-to-bottom, then read it again; when you’re done, read it again. If you don’t meet the qualifications, education, experience or any other aspect of the job – don’t apply. Aimlessly throwing your resume at every position that you think you “kind of” qualify for, may end up hurting you. The online software company Bullhorn conducted a survey of nearly 1,500 recruiters/hiring managers and found that 30% were turned off by applicants that applied and were not remotely qualified; of that 43% said they have blacklisted candidates from other jobs as well, by suppressing their names in future resume searches.
    When writing your resume, and applying it to the position, focus on how will make this hiring manager’s life easier; you should avoid solely focusing on your achievements. Ultimately, this company/hiring manager has a void, they are looking for someone to fill it and want to do it at the most cost effective approach that doesn’t involve a burden to the company – they want someone that can come in and ‘hit the ground running’ and offer the biggest cost-benefit. Make that you! You need to leave an everlasting impression on that manager. One technique that I have employed – with success, is a follow-up email/letter. Thank that hiring manager for their time, for the opportunity to meet with you and that you are EXCITED (in many more words) to be a part of and to contribute to their already top-performing team. Set yourself apart!
    Another great point that this article made was that recruiters/hiring manager are using social media to find out who you really are, what your personality is like, what you do in your personal time and who you are outside the professional setting. Shannon Blog covered a very similar article (this-is-what-recruiters-look-for-on-your-social-media-accounts) that was a very interesting read. Some may call this an invasion of privacy or an invasive method, but what we put out on public domains are out there for everyone to see. A few adjustments of your privacy settings will help this and remember… DON’T POST QUESTIONABLE THINGS!

  3. Allan Ripp’s “How Not to Get a Job” is a great article for me as a job seeker to see from an employer’s point of view about the job searching process of today. Ripp is absolutely correct from my perspective about how impersonal the job search is, how people have identical cover letters and resumes for employers, and how often people switch jobs in today’s society.
    To begin with, Ripp is correct in stating that the job search is very impersonal. The majority of companies searching for jobs are published on websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed. These sites make it easy and accessible for job seekers to apply for, by doing very little research before-hand. The easy flow of applications does make it seem “simple, fast and prepackaged…to feel inauthentic and impersonal”. I was surprised to read that Ripp looked through the majority of the resumes, because I have been told that many employers use algorithms themselves to condense the candidates down to a narrow bundle to look at, making it even more impersonal. I understand that Ripp wants a candidate that is authentic and creates personal cover letters, so he should try to go to some career fairs, where he can meet people in person so he can decide if he “want[s] this person sitting across from [him] or along for a client meeting”. Going to job fairs will be more beneficial for Ripp to meet candidates instead of using social media. I would not have very good luck if many employers are looking at social media because I do not have and social platforms that express my daily life, so they would not find a better picture of who I am.
    Along with the impersonal job search online, cover letters and resumes begin to blend in with each other. As a student I was taught to use key words and phrases in our documents that will be picked up by algorithms through employers or have eye appealing words that pop out when an employer reads over one. This is why the “the waitress who described her duties with the clarity of E. B. White” wrote the way she did. She used key words and statements that sound a little over-the-top for her job, however it seems to raise her credentials. This is why resumes become “one size fits all”. People expand their vocabulary to make their job have greater abilities that give the impression that this candidate can switch and transfer across the entire job field, making it again impersonal for the employers.
    The large pool of candidates online, along with the impersonal factors make people switch careers so easily in applications. The potential candidates are so large on these internet sites, which make me feel that my resume may never get looked at, so I may browse for more job openings and apply for ones that I feel are not in the spectrum I want to be in, or have the credentials for, but the application process is so easy that it is worth a shot to apply anyway. Many employers want experience on a resume and as a college student, I find many of my peers going to vast amounts of internships to look well rounded for when they apply for full-time jobs when they graduate. Job hopping is just a way for those to expand their resumes to write down that they can handle every job in the market. All in all, Ripp is correct that the job process is becoming less personal and I think he should go to more job fairs then in the future to find candidates, even though there will be a lesser pool of applications because the people there take a step further away from their couch to mindlessly apply to jobs using their inauthentic resumes.

  4. You can be anything you want to be, but doesn’t mean you should. In today’s world, members of the workforce simply shift from job to job, not relevant to their professional careers. With the advancement of technology, companies post jobs online that attract thousands of applicants who don’t necessarily fit the profile, but they apply because of how easy the process is. On the employer’s side of the application process, the decision making on how to approach these applicants is a struggle by either using algorithms for buzzwords on resumes, monitoring social media accounts, differentiating applicants by means of applying/making contact, or individually analyzing each and every resume. Each of these ideas of approach have their own fault, but organizations are at a loss on the magnitude of applicants that truly fit their occupational needs.
    As a millennial, I embrace the lack of hardship in applying for jobs online. However, I do go the extra efforts to stand out of the way of applicants by keeping appropriate social media accounts, contacting the companies I’ve applied for by personalized means, and used concepts within the job description that are associated/similar with my current occupations. The barrage of applicants in competition for a position is truly a barrier to overcome. I emphasize with the workers in this article hoping to switch to a different professional field, but another means of action they should consider would be advancing to a better position within their field. This provides less stress on the employers cycling through resumes, and makes individuals within that professional field have a better chance of getting hired.

  5. The job market is very hard to get into in this day and age. To get a job a person has to be cutting edge and cream of the crop. To get a job a person has to be determined and driven and cannot think like a person who has already lost. Part of getting a good job is preparing properly by going to a good school and accepting opportunities when they present themselves. Another trait that is needed when looking for a job is patience. Usually people do not start at the top of the pyramid job seekers have to take failure with a grain of salt. I found this article to be quite comical being that none of the applicants were qualified. People should choose their future jobs based on what they are passionate about. If people graduate and find that they do not enjoy their job they should pursue a new undergrad that makes them happy because then their job will make them feel fullfilled.

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