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1. How To... Interpret Recruitment Ads
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1. How To... Interpret Recruitment Ads

When deciding which position to apply for, it's important not to aim your sights at an unrealistic level. If your total academic achievements comprise one GCSE in Leisure Services Management (Failed, pending appeal) it's pointless applying for the post of managing director. You would obviously be vastly over-qualified.

To improve your recruitment chances, it's often useful to speak a language other than English - such as, for example, the language used by people who compose recruitment ads (generally those sacked from the job of estate agent on grounds of being too cunning and overmanipulative).

Clearly, the point of job ads is, like Lonely Hearts ads, to make a disappointingly small package sound like a highly desirable partnership prospect (when all the advertiser really seeks is someone willing to be totally screwed in his company). Unlike Lonely Hearts ads though, employers are legally forbidden from specifying that their ideal candidate is a slim, blonde, 18-25 year old with huge tits. This is considered discriminatory language, so the phrase "vivacious" is generally used to convey the same prerequisites. (Not to be confused with "outgoing personality", which means someone who won't go to a tribunal if unfairly sacked).

Understanding ads is simple, though, once you've grasped the basics. "Basics" being, obviously, a term referring to the 50 pence-per-hour you will earn if you don't actually sell anything. Similarly, "includes company car" does not signify a gleaming BMW provided for your own personal use - it's merely a shorthand form for "Chair And Roladex".

The ability to work well as part of a team is almost inevitably going to be required (unless applying for the position of striker at West Ham FC), as is a Sense of Humour. The reason for the sense of humour will become clear when you are told what "salary negotiable" actually means (even Mo Mowlam couldn't negotiate anything more than what nine-year-olds get in India for sewing footballs).

Salary is, naturally, a vital part of the job description. A position offering "Full Benefits" is one which pays so little that you have to continue signing on at the Dole office in order to survive (otherwise known as "a job with plenty of Security") and firms describing themselves as "small and friendly" are inevitably using the terms in the same unlikely sense that owners of enormous slavering Rottweilers do (your co-workers will either snarl menacingly whenever you approach their territory, or rub themselves against your legs in a disturbingly sexual fashion).

Above all, do not get downhearted if you are an inarticulate, poorly presented, surly and incompetent individual with no technical skills and a personal hygiene problem. You may not find that perfect job to suit your abilities, but you can still earn a six-figure sum per annum simply by sitting at home addressing envelopes. This is called blackmail, and can be studied via correspondence course by sending an SAE to: The Unabomber, c/o United States Penitentiary, USA.

Next week: Improving your Qualifications (or How To Lie On Application Forms).

Debbie Barham

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