Advice for job applicants

I’ve been really busy this week, and haven’t had time to prepare another blog post, so here’s some borrowed content for you.

This is from a good friend. She works for a company I won’t name, and is in a position where she does a bit of hiring — or at least, filtering through the CVs that arrive in response to job ads.

Dear Applicant, I’d like to interview you, really I would. You are interested in the role; you have invested time in applying, maybe you are visualising yourself working with us, chatted to your friends about it. I’ve looked through your CV, I can see your background and qualifications, I can see why you think it might work out. I’m sure you could make a contribution. But I have a pile of CVs here and I have to cut them down.

So here’s why I won’t be inviting you for interview.

Maybe it’s no covering letter. Has someone told you a covering letter is old fashioned? Have you applied for lots of jobs lately and can’t be bothered? But your covering letter is a chance for me to see how you put a piece of content together, as well as how your experience fits.

Please don’t give me a CV that says your objective is to gain a role in journalism, or event management, or PR, or editorial, when you are applying for a role in Marketing. It makes me think you don’t want this job. I work for a great company, we’re doing exciting things and I want someone working for me who is thrilled to be here.

Please don’t tell me you have a keen eye for detail. This is a very risky sentence to write – it pretty much guarantees a typo in that exact sentence. Instead, demonstrate your keen eye for detail. Give me a CV with no errors at all. Get someone ruthless to go through it and spot everything. WordPress is not Wordpress or Word Press. My company name only has one A in it!

Don’t list your mother as your referee.

Don’t list what you’ve been endorsed for on LinkedIn, it’s bogus. My friends keep endorsing me for stuff I know nothing about (thanks friends!)

Don’t explain in the covering letter how the job is really below you but you will accept it as long as the salary is OK.

LastPass is not a software platform that makes me want to hire you. Just give me the software you can actually use and that might be useful.

If it’s your secondary school results, or more than 10 years ago, I don’t need the detail.

So here’s what I’d like you to do. Tell me what you can do for me. You’ve got my detailed job ad and position description – give me a couple of sentences talking specifically to that. Have you got the skills and attitude I need, have you picked up the main points in the job ad, have you had a quick look at the company website.

Oh, and you’ll never guess what I do with the applications that begin “Dear Sir”😃.

(Reproduced by permission)

  • Footnote: by default it’s impossible to spell WordPress with a capital W but no capital P when publishing in WordPress. Turns out WP automatically corrects it. There’s a plugin or fool the software to override this behaviour.
  • I don’t normally accept blog posts from other people. I certainly don’t accept them from the astounding number of marketing types that write to me offering me blog posts on topics I have no interest in.


A bit over a year ago I stopped wearing a tie to work, mostly because nobody else at work wears a tie.

When you wear ties, they can be the distinguishing feature in your work attire. When the tie is gone, it’s harder to get away with, for instance, wearing white shirts every day.


So I’ve bought a bunch of different coloured/striped/checked shirts. Stocktake sale time is a good time to stock up. Van Heusen do quite a nice “European” cut, which is a bit slimmer than their normal “classic” slobby look, but not so slim every belly bulge shows.

I’ve got mostly blues, I have to admit, though recently I’ve branched into a few other colours; for instance a couple of hopefully-not-too-dull greys, one in lavender, one that is white with stripes of pink and a couple of other colours. Groovy.

Why today is a holiday

It’s Labour Day today in Victoria, marking the reduction in working hours during the 19th century to 8 hours, and the relaxation of working conditions, which in the 1840s were strict:

Conditions of the time were governed by the Master and Servant Act. Employees in Australia in 1840 who left their employment without permission were subject to being hunted down under the Bushrangers Act. As little as one hour’s absence by a free servant without permission could precipitate a punishment of prison or the treadmill.

Wikipedia: Australian labour movement

Thus this monument at the top of Russell Street in Melbourne marks the achievement of 8 hours work, 8 hours recreation and 8 hours rest.

8-hour day monument, Melbourne

8-hour day monument, Melbourne

If it were created today, it’d probably be called Work-Life-Balance Day or somesuch.

And it would probably be something more like 7.6 hours work, 2 hours commuting, 6.4 hours housework, babysitting and recreation, and 8 hours rest.

The lifts

Lift buttonsThe other day some colleagues were having a little rant about the lifts, which in recent weeks have been performing badly.

I blogged about this ages ago — in many buildings the problem is not the position or size of the lifts, but how they’re programmed. Evidently in 13 years, not much has changed.

Apart from simply responding to the call button, lifts should have a few basic assumptions programmed into them:

Before 10am, and between about 1pm and 2pm, lots of people will enter office buildings and want to go up, so the lifts should default to the ground floor.

The ground floor is where most people enter, so the system should not assume that because one lift has responded to a call, it can cope with everybody entering. More lifts should respond, and they shouldn’t make people play that game of waiting for the first lift to depart before being able to press the call button again.

It would also be useful to have lifts default to the non-ground floors (perhaps evenly spaced, and even ignoring unoccupied floors) at peak exit times such as between 11:30 and 12:30, and after 4pm.

Optionally, they could get a little smarter, for instance learning the patterns in the building, which floors are quiet and busy at which times of day.

Really, how hard could it be?