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More Myths About Job Hunting Debunked

October 4, 2012

(Look how impressed she is with what this guy just told her about his company.)

Let’s be honest here folks; there is a bunch of nonsense on the internet about how to get a job. Most of it is put out by people who have experience looking at other people’s resumes and interviewing, but very little of it is from people that actually make hiring decisions. Reason? Because people that make hiring decisions are all very different people, and there is no recipe for getting a job. They either like you, or they don’t, and very rarely is it because you are the most qualified, skilled candidate. Human resources, on the other hand, is a group of people with a homogeneous mindset. They have general rules and criteria for weeding out and selecting candidates based on corporate policies or prejudices about what makes someone employable or unemployable.

Every so often I come across a bit of wisdom on the internet about how I should present myself to a company; how I should present my experience, education, dates, names, places, etc. And usually I come across a bit of trash. For example, the idea that I should be truthful with a potential employer is ridiculous. Case in point, and this story comes from a reliable source, is when you have gotten fired from your previous job for no good reason. The story goes like this:

A young Engineer was hired by a small company and tasked with designing a structure. But since the Engineer was unlicensed and no permits were obtained by the company, the Engineer was in violation of all of the ethics she was taught during College. Instead of just quitting, however, she informed the authorities of the project, and was later fired by her employer. The employer make it look like the reason for termination had nothing to do with the real reason, so she was basically out of a job and had no legal recourse.

Now imagine that the Engineer is seeking future employment. Human resources people will tell you that she should be up front about her previous situation. She should, they say, come right out and tell them everything. Then, when the previous employer is contacted for a reference, he really won’t be believed if he says something negative, because of the awful position that he placed his employee in. Hogwash. What will happen is that she will be immediately disqualified for the position. They may string her along, but eventually she will get one of those “we decided to pursue other candidates that more closely match our needs” letters.

Think about it this way. You have interviewed 12 people for a position. They are all relatively similar in experience and education. Some have highlighted important skills for the position. Some had personalities that wouldn’t fit in your organization’s culture. Some were too old, and some were too young. But there was this one who said her previous employer coerced her into doing something unethical, and she was eventually terminated for refusing to cooperate. Do you see the problem? No one from the HR department will pass this person along to the hiring manager. It’s too much of a risk and potential liability. There are too many doubts swirling in the mind.

What the Engineer should do is simply say that she was let go. “Laid-off” is the correct terminology I believe. When HR contacts the previous employer, he will not be very forthcoming with his information. He may even only give dates of employment, which is a win for the job-seeker. See how much more easier it is to not be truthful? The truth is complicated and hard for people to swallow. A good story, on the other hand, is made to be easy to digest.

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