Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Expect Employer Perceptions to be Wonky

Consider what will happen when an employer views the image to the right. I will lay you odds that they will see an upward-pointing triangle that appears a shade or two brighter than the surrounding area—in spite of the fact that the triangle is not there at all! Imagine that!

And I have some awful news: the same thing happens when employers read resum├ęs and other marketing documents. They take the tiny flecks of data and fact that are sketched in these documents and they hallucinate entire stories to connect those facts. Employers simply cannot imagine that isolated facts don't go together the way that they think they should and if an applicant’s facts match an undesirable pattern in an employer’s head then the applicant has just come to the end of the job application process as far as that employer is concerned. No doubt about it.

You might be wondering if there is something that might be done. I think there is, and it relates to my sloppy definition of the problem. I left out the fact that the elements in the image (first described by Kanizsa) are carefully arranged. Put briefly, if you as the job applicant or career developer don't arrange the facts about the applicant into a creditable, coherent story then the employer will do it for themself. Unfortunately, as a matter of fact, in spite of our best efforts they often do it anyway.