It wasn’t the best date in the world. Who talks about their jobs on a date? Me, apparently. I was fascinated how the hiring process worked, and she was in Human Resources. On a semi-related side-note, some guys really struggle with why they can’t get a girlfriend. At this time in my life my dating clothes could be best described as “business casual”. So hot. But thankfully I failed these dates so I could later meet my wonderful wife.
I’m going to try and convince you that you should fib on your resume and feel great about it. I’ve talked to several hiring people, worked at small companies where everyone is involved with the hiring process, and used these methods to get the interview on the vast majority of all applications I’ve submitted.
I never intended to be evil. It doesn’t feel great suggesting that you… fib. But the more I found out about the hiring process, the more disillusioned I became. Once I found out how to get the phone interview consistently and succeed in the in-person follow up 75% of the time, then I REALLY hated the hiring process. It’s completely rigged, and I’ll show you how to beat it.
Human Resources Girl confirmed what I already suspected: she simply matches the words on the application to words on the resume and passes along the resume if it matches those words. The manager you’ll be doing work for never sees your resume before HR does. Zero people actually read it. Word matching game.
Copy words from the job posting onto your resume get past HR and in front of a manager.
Most people try to use big words or spice up their resume. Don’t. Use the exact words and acronyms on the posting. Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V. If you don’t get called for interviews, it’s because you’ve failed this step. If you have all the words on your resume that they have on their job listing, there’s a huge chance for at least a phone interview with HR. Don’t worry about later steps in the in the process yet. No interview, no job. Work on getting the interview first.
What’s that? You’re saying that you have no experience in Blue Widget Systems like the company wants? Don’t worry, that doesn’t matter. Usually. Here’s why.
How a job listing gets made
Jamie has been working at a company for 5 years. Jamie decides to leave the company. The manager needs to replace Jamie, so they have Jamie list all the tools used on the job.
The manager gets the list of tools and programs and puts on the listing:
- “Needs 5 years experience in the following:”
Why 5 years? Because Jamie was there for 5 years.
Did Jamie have 5 years experience all those things listed on the posting? Hell no, Jamie was hired as an intern out of college. But now everything that Jamie has ever touched needs 5 years of experience. It doesn’t matter that one program could be taught in 5 minutes because it’s rarely used. “5 years experience” is what you’ll see on the resume.
This leads to stupid situations like requiring 5 years of experience for technologies that are 2 years old. I have gotten these jobs easily because everyone else was too afraid to list the impossible. They got filtered out by HR in the word matching process. I didn’t.
So the job listing includes unreasonable experience on almost everything. Just to make sure he didn’t miss anything, the manager also includes the OLD job listing that has been floating around since the 1980’s. “Needs 5 years experience in Lotus Notes and Gopher“.
Since Jamie had the job as an intern, the starting wage is exceptionally low because that’s what Jamie got. So they expect to pay you like an intern but you must have 5 years experience in everything.
And finally come the nice-to-have’s that the manager just sticks on there. MBA. Foreign languages. Charity work.
The ultimate result is a job listing that not a single person on the planet is qualified for, not even the previous employee. This is why you shouldn’t feel bad about fibbing a little bit.
It’s all bullshit anyway because the manager is going to hire a “good culture fit”.
What the managers actually hire for: Will you make their lives easier?
I had gotten the suit from the Goodwill. I think I got two suits for $35 because I was broke as hell. They were tacky looking and the sleeves were way too short for my arms so I kept them hidden under the table. But as soon as I got into the interview, the hiring person sighed with relief and smiled: “THANK YOU for wearing a suit. I can tell you’ll be great, let’s get the details out of the way”. The HR person didn’t care about any credentials I had. All the other people applying for this job couldn’t even do the bare minimum and dress nicely. The HR person ranted about how the other candidates came dressed in T-shirts. But by even doing the slightest preparation, I set myself apart from the crowd. By being prepared, I made HR’s lives easier. That’s why they instantly approved me.
Next up, the manager.
Mangers generally don’t have a clue as to how you actually do the job you’ll be doing. This is why it doesn’t really matter that you don’t know the things you said on the resume. You have to know enough to pass their bullshit detectors and be at least somewhat useful when on the job, but you don’t have to be the rockstar you claimed to be.
Small talk is the most important interview skill you can have
Plenty of people have skills. But plenty of people are also insufferable assholes. Since your manager will be spending 40+ hours per week with you, they are far more concerned about your asshole tendencies than your work production. If your skill level is a C- but your attitude a B+, you’re hired. But probably not if it’s the other way around!
Have a sense of humor, smile, and try to make the interview fun and comfortable. Complaining of any kind = NOT FUN.
Meeting your future co-workers
This is going to be the hardest part of the process because some of those lies you told may come back to bite you. Or they might not. It’s hard to tell. Your future co-workers actually do the job, unlike the manager and HR person before them, so it’s harder to bullshit them. So between the time you submit your resume and get the interview, you need to study. Study a LOT. You have to be able to speak intelligently on the things you said you did. Read industry articles and current events so you can use them in conversation during the interview.
Fortunately, your future co-workers are just like your manager. The most important thing for them is to weed out assholes.
Learning how to tell funny or interesting stories about past projects is way better than trying to impress with knowledge
Prepare 3-5 stories beforehand to use in interviews. These stories shouldn’t have a “bad guy”. They should be filled with everyone trying to do the right thing but it just didn’t come out right. The stories should end with “In hindsight, I learned…”.
I like telling people about the things I learned when working on White Castle’s social network. It gets people laughing and sets me apart from other candidates.
Congratulations, you got the job
Remember all that stuff you said you knew? Yeah, now you have to actually do it. You have between a few weeks and a few months to actually learn how to do this at an acceptable level. Your co-workers and manager will forgive mistakes during this period and charge it to the transition. Fortunately, a few weeks/months is more than enough time at most jobs. If you can’t learn your job in a few weeks/months, you aimed too high.
Something went wrong
Maybe you bombed the interview. Maybe they fired you right away. Maybe you aimed too high and applied for brain surgeon. Perhaps you could have studied more. Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself in interviews: you need a job and embarrassment is part of the cost. I’ve had interviews stop immediately when I tripped their bullshit detectors. Oh well. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.
The important thing is that this method worked far better than not. Because once you start gaining experience and adding new skills you become more valuable in general. This method is also a way to keep learning and stay current with industry trends. A lot of people just stop learning new things yet magically expect to get paid more. That’s not how it works.
I hope I’ve convinced you to lie like a dog on your resume
- Is it fair to get rejected by an HR person just matching words? No.
- Is it fair to get rejected because you don’t have 5 years experience in a 2 year old system? No.
- Is it fair to get rejected because you don’t know Technology X when they are hiring on personality anyway? No.
The job application process is broken. It’s so broken that lying is the way to go. You have a choice between unemployment, working a job you hate, or getting the jobs you want. I want you to live the life you wish for, and I think you do too.