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Book Review: What Does Somebody Have To Do To Get A Job Around Here? by Cynthia Shapiro
Review by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.

One of the several day jobs I had when I was working my way through college at night was as a counselor at an employment agency. It gave me a lot of insight into the bag of tricks organizations use when hiring. From the wording of ads, through the screening of résumés, to the interviewing of candidates and the final selection processes, there appears to be an intricate game in process. About half of the rules of the game seemed to be hidden. Many of the rules seem quite bizarre.

Later, after I became a psychologist, I was fortunate to get more information from clients who worked in H.R. or were responsible for hiring in their organizations. Not to mention that I was able to see it from the other side: clients who were going through job search and interviews. Both sides are stressed and confused by the processes.

So, when I came across Cynthia Shapiro's book, What Does Somebody Have To Do To Get A Job Around Here?, I read it with great interest, and eventually, delight. The basic principles don't seem to change much, but the bag of tricks has expanded and more hidden rules have been added. However, Shapiro has the game nailed. She knows how it's played and all the right countermoves.

Here are the three most important things you will understand from the book:

1. You are not being considered for hire, you are being considered for elimination.

The hiring management is inundated with hundreds or perhaps thousands of résumés. Their first job is to get them scanned and trash all but a few.

In many organizations, your résumé will probably be scanned by a computer that is programmed to recognize both favored keywords and keyword spam. It will be eliminated before it gets to a human scanner.

Even if your résumé makes it through the scan and you get a phone interview, the phone interview is designed to eliminate you from the next step: in person interviews. At every step in the hiring process, there is some technique at play to eliminate you from consideration. You can't know you've got the job -- regardless of whether or not they tell you to your face that the offer is in the mail -- until you get the actual offer letter and start date.

2. Nobody tells you the truth.

It isn't safe for anyone in the organization to tell you the truth. (And the people you talk to may not know the whole of it anyway.) After all, not all the criteria used for judging you is completely legal.

You may think that organizations are bound to hiring practices that recognize such niceties as equal opportunity employment. It is actually next to impossible to prove they are violating legal principles. Unless someone says to you that you didn't get the job because you are a pregnant woman or because you are gay, there is no way to demonstrate that's what happened.

(In fact, people have been told the truth to their face and been unable to prove it. I had a client who worked for a university. She was just a part-time instructor teaching one class. She wanted to teach an additional class but was told that there were men with families that needed the job more than she, and not to bring it up again, because she wouldn't be considered.)

And, assuming that there isn't any legal funny business going on, if you remember that the purpose of the process is to eliminate unsuitable candidates, you will understand that the hiring management are not interested in helping you do better, they are just interested in getting on with the next candidate. It's easier and faster to blow you off with bland excuses than coach you to be a better candidate. Besides, it's not their job to help you.

3. The rules of the game are hidden, but you can find them and make them work for you.

The subtitle of the book is "44 Insider Secrets That Will Get You Hired."

The rules of the game may be hidden. Secret. But that's the whole point of the book. Shapiro tells you what they are. Not only do you get the rules of the game, you get the "how-to's" that help you play by them and win.

Getting hired may be a political game, but with Schapiro's book, you may be able to level the playing field.



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