7 ways to not get a job

Written by Verne on August 10th, 2007

Every so often, my creative marketing agency does a call-out on various job boards and forums to bring in some new talent to work on upcoming projects and initiatives. Whether we post on design-specific job boards like FSw Jobs, Krop, or FlashinTO, or on more generic boards like CraigsList, we always seem to get a nice pool of respondents. However, like anyone in HR can attest to, only a small handful ever end up actually being considered.

The ones that don’t make it past the cut form a nice collection application faux-pas. Some are mind-blowing. Some are sad. Some are just plain funny. In light of one of our recent call-outs for creative talent, I thought I would shed some light on some of the things that get an application a line by-pass… to the garbage. Here are 7 ways to not get a job.

  1. Don’t fulfill the application requirements.
    About 30% of applicants that applied did not bother reading the application requirements and thus submitted incomplete applications. Yes, your resume and your portfolio are required. Not whichever one you happen to have handy.
    Lesson: Read the requirements carefully and make sure you provide everything that is necessary. Unless, that is, you get a kick out of filling up the Deleted Items folder of the recruiter.
  2. Don’t meet the job requirements.
    Naturally, applicants can be ambitious. I do encourage taking leaps and tackling challenges, but no amount of ambition in the world will make you a considerable candidate for a job that requires someone local to Toronto when you’re situated in Neverland.
    Lesson: Be honest and realistic. If you don’t meet the requirements of the position posted, don’t waste your time applying, and don’t waste the space in the recruiter’s inbox.
  3. Spell the company’s name wrong.
    Okay, granted, there’s always been some confusion around the spelling of our company name. But if you’re serious about working for us, show us that you’ve taken the time to read at least one line from our website and picked up on the correct spelling of our name. This one calls for an auto-delete in my books.
    Lesson: If you don’t take the time to find out how to spell the company name, then why should the company spend the time to consider you? Do your homework and know who you’re applying to.
  4. Use an unprofessional email address.
    sexXxy_aZn_babie_ang3l_69@hotmail.com didn’t get the job. And neither did anyone else with an unprofessional email address. I’m even on the fence between considering emails coming from a Hotmail or Gmail domain, but I can guarantee that your forum screenname won’t get you very far in the working world.
    Lesson: Get yourself a professional firstname.lastname email alias, or even better, get yourself your own domain. Hosting providers today make it very easy and affordable for anyone to have their own domain these days. Invest in yourself and give the recruiter one more reason to consider investing in you as well.
  5. Host your portfolio on geocities.
    This one needs no explanation. If you’re applying to a web designer position, you can bet that your geocities portfolio won’t even gain a click-through.
    Lesson: Get yourself a professionally hosted website to give your work some credibility.
  6. Ask if the job is still open without sending your application material.
    We appreciate your consideration for not wanting to send in an application if the job wasn’t still open, but in reality, even if the position was still open, we’d likely not have the time to respond with a “Yes, submit your application”, especially if there’s no indication that you’re worth that extra work. Harsh? You betcha.
    Lesson: Unless your application is contingent on the answer, if you’re going to take the time to submit a question regarding the position, submit your application with it. You’re up against hundreds of other applicants, don’t make it more difficult for the recruiter to see your work.
  7. “I’m intrested.”
    Yes, we actually received an application with just these two words (spelt exactly as shown, too).
    Lesson: Don’t do this. The body of your email application should at least contain a quick introduction of who you are and what your qualifications are. And make sure to make use of spellcheck. :)

And there you have it – a quick list of application hall of lamers. Some things to keep in mind. Some things to definitely avoid.

Leave me a comment if you have some horror stories of your own to add to the list!

13 Responses

  • Satish

    To think we went through the trouble and changed the logo just so they could spell it right the first time :).

    I’m putting my detective hat back on (like I did with your Non-traditional Marketing post)… I’ve added sexXxy_aZn_babie_ang3l_69@hotmail.com to my Windows Live Messenger to see if someone with that ridiculous of an e-mail really exists. Any bets?

    Great list btw. The one I would add is when outsourcing agencies (again from places like Neverland and Neverneverland) “apply” for positions when it’s clearly a gig for an individual or for a long-term contract position. And on the other extreme, seeing folks that want us to bring them into Canada and give them a full-time job and what not. Yikes.

  • Phillip Rhodes

    Wow, it’s 2007 and there are still people judging people by completely irrelevant criteria like their email address? What a riot. Your competition LOVES that, since they’re probably smart enough to judge people by their abilities and skills – not some completely arbitrary and meaningless standard like email address.

    sexXxy_aZn_babie_ang3l_69@hotmail.com might have just been one of the hottest young up and coming superstar designers, and you just let (him|her) walk away to the competition due to your shallow thinking. At least you have the benefit of probably never knowing how (he|she) turned out, so you can continue to tell yourself “nah, we did the right thing.” Ignorance is bliss, after all.

  • Verne

    Phillip – I appreciate your perspective, and it definitely has its value. The problem is that acquiring talent is about more than just raw design skills. We look for well-rounded individuals that are able to think critically on their feet and represent our organization with the utmost professionalism. This is not an uncommon criteria among companies.

    Using an unprofessional email address like the fictional one depicted in my post shows that the candidate hasn’t put enough effort into presenting themselves in the most positive light, which gives the recruiting company little incentive to believe they’ll exert any more effort as part of their team.

    The world is full of great designers. But it’s the ones that can apply those skills most effectively against the market of young go getters that truly represent talent. Given that, I hope you can appreciate my perspective and why no. 4 made the list.

    Thanks for the comments! :)

  • Phillip Rhodes

    [quote]We look for well-rounded individuals that are able to think critically on their feet and represent our organization with the utmost professionalism.[/quote]

    I’m not sure I agree that using a “non professional” email address necessarily means that the individual in question won’t do those things though. My own personal email address is a bit quirky by “professional” standards, but nobody at $WORK has ever questioned my professionalism.

    Presumably if your hire somebody they receive a new-employee@yourdomain.com email, no? If so, and they use that for their work communication, I don’t see much correlation between these things. Now if they were expected to use their personal email for correspondence with customers I could almost see the argument. Depends on who the customers are I guess. It’s similar to how I would wear a suit to a meeting with a customer if the customer was a large, traditional, east-coast based bank, but would probably wear jeans and an Iron Maiden T-shirt if the customer was a Web 2.0 startup from CA. :-)

  • Verne

    I couldn’t agree more with your example of dresscodes, and I’d likely follow the exact same pattern. On that same note, I’d also wear a suit to my interview with a new company, and leave the jeans and tshirt at home.

    It’s just about first impressions. I share this lesson with everyone because I can attest to it being used in the workforce. It is what it is. And it’s those who adapt to our world’s silly rules that make it, and it’s those that don’t.. who don’t.

    I think it’s great to consider all applicants generally – but when you’re sifting through hundreds of them, you tend to need some kind of a filter. You can keep the unprofessional email address, and hope that the recruiting company doesn’t care. But why take the risk?

    Thanks for the follow-up, I appreciate you adding in your 2 cents. ;D

  • giz lau

    haha, funny enough – last year, i worked at an employment agency as an employment counsellor. i did one workshop a week on “how to get a job” – resume and interview skill building.

    you’d be surprised at some of the stuff i saw – some of the resumes i had to fix up or even start from scratch – some of the responeses that we got from employers — and etc :)

  • Verne

    Care to share some lessons or anecdotes Gizelle? :)

  • Garry

    As the President of one of our school’s clubs, I had to assess the resumes of people applying to positions on our council. I agree your list covers some of the common ones in a web company setting. However, I would like to share a couple of pet peeves when it comes to reviewing applications:

    1) Not changing the name of the company they had applied for prior to the current application in their template cover letter.
    - It indicates a lack of professionalism and attention to detail.

    2) Run-on cover letters that don’t discuss the skill set required as stated in the job description
    - The purpose of writing covers letters is to present yourself in a manner relevant to the job to which you’re applying. By rambling on about irrelevant activities or experiences wastes the reader’s time and leads the reader away from the qualifications of why you should be the candidate for the job. The skills/attributes should be presented in a clear and concise way.

    3) Poorly formatted resumes
    - Again, this belongs under the professionalism category and, perhaps, competency in formatting in Word or coding, the latter being a more graver blunder, given the nature of a web media business.

    However , I take different perspective on those who lack the proper job qualification. One term, we required a person who was adept at coding and updating the website. Coming from a smaller organization, we had a limited pool of marginally qualified candidates. In the end, our incumbent web manager was able to train the person up to competency and they fulfilled their duties very well. In this situation, it would lead me to believe that if you’re close to being qualified, just apply; at the very least, you’ve completed your duty as an applicant. Whatever happens after will happen. :)

    Verne is right; spellcheck is a useful tool! Please take a minute to use it.

  • Anna

    Hilarious post Verne. I’m going to add one more item to your list.
    Send a resume that is 6 pages long.
    Lesson: If we can’t scan your resume in 10 seconds, its not worth our time.

  • Peepers

    You guys are whack.
    You just need to be talented, if you can make a company millions of dollars.
    You email address could be assfuck@fuckme.com.. they dont give a fuck.
    Honestly anyone who has to put on this big show to get a job – is just a hoser.

    If you work for a real design studio, they could careless. Its only the up tight and stupid design agency’s that care about that stuff. But graphic design for cheese balls anyways.
    90% of the industry is just jock and weirdo’s.

    So if your not talents, just give up because your going to be producing shitty work that no one will ever care about.

    Pickle Twist

  • John Taylor

    Great blog. Do you know of any relevant marketing forums or discussion groups?

  • N97 ohne Vertrag

    Hey! have you already noticed: Already available for Pre-Order in Spain -> Nokia N97 for 450?

  • Gert Bichler

    And there were still so many issues that have not been blogged, yet.

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