Don't Argue With the Hiring Manager!

Even in this current economy where companies are hiring as fast as they can (and that can change quickly), being unethical AND obnoxious in a job search is lethal for your search AND for your career. Being snarky, snide, or obnoxious does not pay.


Sure, companies do dumb things at times, because they are run by humans, who tend not to be perfect. But calling them out on it won’t change them, and will not help you there.


To illustrate, here’s a story, from the summer of 2019. This originates from a hiring manager (the HM, as I’ll refer to him here) who posted to a job search group email list as a cautionary tale. He gave me permission to post this here as long as I made some changes in industry, so he nor the candidate could be identified, which I have done.


The HM and candidate had the email exchange below. The HM received this reply to a question he had about an applicant's experience. IMPORTANT: The applicant had stated on their application they had 2 years of experience in each of the required areas of expertise.


Their email exchange, begun by the hiring manager:


Subject: Clarification on experience


Hi [candidate],

Reviewing your resume, I don't see any evidence of [technology #1] or [technology #2]. Can you enlighten me where you gained that experience?


To [Hiring Manager]

Subject: Re: Clarification on experience

Well unfortunately, I have no industry experience with these methods so I can't enlighten you on my experience; but I can certainly fabricate it if it makes you feel any better. Experience, really? All you need to know is the technical jargon that is the scientific language, and the general aptitude to learn a new skill. Well that's how I feel about it anyway. Good look [sic] finding your perfect candidate.


That candidate was immediately dropped, as you might expect. Who wants to hire someone without the necessary time spent using very specific skills, especially if they out and out LIE and say they are willing to continue lying?! Would you want this person on your team, with, for example, tight deadlines and high levels of regulatory compliance necessary?


Of course not. Unethical, argumentative people are not considered serious candidates. And if your industry is a small one, word will get around about avoiding you. On the contrary, if you do a good search and are hired, once you’re inside, you can make the case for how job requirements should be adjusted.


So EVEN IF you think what the employer is asking for is not valid for the job, EVEN IF you think what they say they want for the position is not really needed, EVEN IF it’s accepted industry-wide that “knowing technical jargon” is all you need, you DO NOT insult the hiring manager or their company. You behave as an adult, answering application questions truthfully and professionally.

Or you don’t apply there at all.

Networking for the Shy

If you’re a shy or introverted type of person, or you become that way in some situations, you probably feel in the minority in our extrovert-dominated culture. And you’re being advised to “network, network, network” in your job search, but your image of this is that you’re going to have to completely change your personality to do so.


Not so! Sure, it does help if you are sociable and initiate contact, but even extroverts get the butterflies. So what can you, the shy or introverted person, do?


First: Your mindset

Remember that networking DOES help you get around hurdles in your job search, so doing some outreach will only help you. Remember what it was like to learn how to drive, and how awkward it was at first? Yet you badly wanted the independence and status it would give you, so you went through the pain of learning and practicing, and got good at it. It’s the same with networking: a bit awkward at first but after a few tries, you’ll feel much more comfortable.


Some things to do

  1. Start small, building one success on top of another. Don’t start by thinking, “I’m going to walk right up to Jack Welch and introduce myself”, but instead, choose another lone person in the room and approach him/her. He/she will be grateful and will probably greet you warmly! Approach groups only if you are expected to or if you know someone in the group.
  2. Focus on the other person. Ask them questions and really listento the answers. If the other person isn’t working right now, what are some of their target companies? If they areworking, what do they like most about their job? How did they get to this point in their career? What’s new and exciting in their field? If it’s horrible weather out, take advantage of it and comment on that, as an icebreaker. If you’ve read something recently that they’d be interested in, mention it and follow up with them with a link to the article.
  3. Volunteer to work at the sign-in table at events. This way you’ll get to meet everyone as they come in, one-on-one.
  4. Join small groups or committees, whether they’re job search-related or not. You never know who you’ll get talking with and who might say “Get me a copy of your resume”.
  5. If you find that someone wants to meet another person in the room and you know them, introduce the two of them. They will be forever in your debt.
  6. Follow up and stay in touch. Catching up with a contact at your next professional organization meeting is an effective (and efficient) way of staying in touch.
  7. Publish an article or make a speech. Sometimes people feel all right about speaking if their notes are prepared, so if that’s the case for you, do it. Afterward, people will approach you to talk. Publishing articles will also generate speaking engagements.

So give those a try, and let me know how you do!

The Latest About ATSs (Applicant Tracking Systems) and Your Resume

Most ATSs (Applicant Tracking System) work by analyzing the HTML behind the content in your Word resume. (That’s one reason I strongly urge people to NOT use any kind of "resume template", but that’s another topic for another time.)

It used to be that any aberration in the code, such as a page break or image or table, would not only make the employer’s ATS system freak out, it would reject your resume altogether. And you’d never know.

Over time, however, ATSs no longer freak out. They still will not read those parts of the resume, but now they don’t dump the whole resume like they used to, in most cases. So it will ignore an image, like a bar chart, in your resume instead of ignoring the whole resume. (Tip: be sure to include narrative of that bar chart, telling us what’s in it, in American English.)

For those who obsess over keywords they "must" use in their resume, and obsess over having an ultimate ATS-friendly resume, I say "Good to try to be 'matchy-matchy' but instead, NETWORK with others at companies that interest you so you can be nominated by them to 'get inside'."

Over the years, THAT’S the approach I’ve seen work, Internet or no internet, ATSs or no ATSs. 

For much more from Joanne on Applicant Tracking Systems, see her videos on YouTube. And see her other career guidance in her newsletter here on this site, and in,, and LinkedIn 

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