Gratuitous advice for job applicants

In various roles I’ve been employing people for the last 20 years. This has mostly been via some really dull public service processes that are designed to do the following:

  • frighten the life out of prospective job applicants (or bore them to death);
  • waste as much time and paper as possible;
  • encourage the hopeless to apply and even protest decisions in the interests of fairness; and
  • generate unproductive work for people with nothing better to do.

In most cases applicants need to be assessed in terms of a too-long list of badly written selection criteria. I know that everyone is going to say that this is really my own fault, but usually it is easier and quicker to just leave what is already there alone because the process of re-writing them adds another year to a very long process depending on what language is currently in vogue with the HR crowd. But really, in my experience the selection criteria don’t matter anyway. There are several things that do matter and they are the things that make you want to hire someone if you are lucky enough to get someone who has all or most of these traits applying. So, for what they are worth, here they are:

  • A decent tertiary or other relevant qualification (which in most cases just indicates an ability to learn)
  • An ability to communicate in various ways – writing, online and in person
  • A real or genuine and engaging personality
  • An obvious enthusiasm or passion for whatever field it is you want to work in
  • Some original ideas and a creative spirit
  • Some evidence of the application of your skills

Regardless of the long lists of selection criteria we all have to deal with in interviews, in my experience, those are the real things I’ve looked for when hiring people and when you find someone with all of those traits, you throw the selection criteria out of the window.


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