The easiest assumption to
make is that only a moron could ask for such unobtainable experience.
The best thing to do in such a situation is to carefully see if this
assumption is true. The first approach to take is to see if this is one
of those companies hooked on "buzz words". VB was a hot buzzword in
1996. You may find that the initial interviewer, especially at a large
company, was coached to look for certain buzzwords. Their coach may be
the hiring manager. Be patient with this person, as this person will
determine if you talk to their coach (read as grant you a second
interview) or not. Think of this first person as a talent scout,
someone you really need to impress.
Getting back to the ad that wanted 10 years of VB experience. The ad
may have edited by someone who saw "10 years of BASIC programming..."
and "...Visual BASIC a plus". The editor took serious liberties
shortening the ad.
How you are able to send your resume can say a lot about the
position the company, why the position is open, etc... If you are
sending to a P.O. box with no company name, there may be a good chance
that the position is being opened because someone is going to be forced
out. You may be replacing someone who took a counter offer! (Discussed
elsewhere in this book - Quick Summary of that chapter No, NO, NOoooo!)
Also if the advertisement seems vague, lacking direction, the company
feels that the person they are trying to replace may looking through
the help wanted ads as well.
If a company is fairly with the times, the company will advertise
more than one way for you to send your resume. If you e-mail the
resume, also send a copy via snail-mail. You never really know how your
resume will appear on their computer, especially if they do not specify
a file format. Fax modems tied directly into the computer send better
images than fax machines, which must first scan an image from a paper
Many old books on how to find and get a job are begging to be
revised since the World Wide Web has become a part of main stream
society. Web sites can say a lot about a company, sometimes more than
what the company wants to say. Web sites can give the trained eye clues
to how in touch with technology the company really is. Web sites that
act as product brochures are a sign that the company at least has a
clue that the Web has some value. Web sites that are updated with
company news bulletins, stock reports and links to relevant information
contained on other sites indicate a company that understands our ever
changing society. Companies that make an effort to make their sites
interesting and different everyday feel they need to appeal to the
general public. Sites that remain fairly static are either aimed
towards a target market or show that the company is not quite up to
speed with the late 90's. Companies that advertise opportunities on the
Web could fall into 2 categories - those who realize the Web's power
and those that see the Web as a paper's replacement or sibling.
Companies that understand the Web will keep the site current with
the company's needs, while out of touch companies may advertise
positions which have been filled for weeks and even months. If a
position description appears and disappears frequently, the company
It's up to you to figure out what is the case. For
an overly simple rule, general help ads will appear frequently while
specialized help ads should appear less often. This depends on the type
of company. A software development firm will need many programmers
while a factory, museum, etc.. should need a programmer less often.
Note what level the company tends to hire
members of the general public. Software firms hiring programmers as
customer service reps but never as engineers may have a policy on
filling upper level positions from within the current staff. Companies
that frequently hire outsiders at any level may be less inclined to
offer promotional opportunities, leaving you in a dead end position. By
watching the want ads, one can learn much about a company despite their
best efforts to control their image. Places with high turn over will
try to look like growing a company, but by doing a little extra
research you can see through the illusion. A company will also let the
knowledgeable "help wanted" reader know if the company promotes from
within or looks outside when filling the upper ranks.
When reading an advertisement, take the time to read between the
lines. When studying a company, look not only for their literature, but
look for that of customers, competitors etc... Looking at competitors'
literature will give one a better idea of the industry and possibly how
the prospective company ranks in that industry. Knowing who your
company's customers are will give you a much better idea of the
company's role in their industry.
Even if you are not looking for a job, read the help wanted ads. The
help wanted ads will let you know what skills are in demand in your
local area and in your career field. Reading between the lines will let
you know which companies are growing and which companies treat their
employees like crap. Watch for your company's ads as well, as to see
what's happening in other departments. Granted a press operator may not
move into an accounting position, but a supervisor or team leader
position may pass such an individual. If such an opportunity for
promotion was opened to the outside before being offered to you, it may
be time to start looking to leave. If other workers were offered the
position, take it personally. If all your coworkers were passed as
well, your company may be looking to change the way it does business or
replace its workforce.
At best, you may be a victim of a glass ceiling, as you can no longer be promoted up the company ranks. In any case it's good to keep looking at the ads. You can see what skills in your field are really in demand and which ones do not interest employers. You can get a feel on which companies are growing and which ones just can not hold help. You can keep an eye on your company if it's looking to the outside.