First published on LInkedIn January 15, 2020

You may not like viewing it as a game, because it’s important to you. After all, your life and those of your family may depend on your ability to bring home the bacon. Job-seeking is not a game to you, and it may be hard to hear that there are rules you do not understand. 

Before we take a look at some of those rules, let’s look at some of the assumptions people make about job-seeking.

  • You’ve got a great resume because you paid someone to write it for you.
  • You’re quite good at what you do. 
  • Hard work is second nature to you, and you’re always willing to learn. 

Well, I don’t know how to break this to you, Bubbie, but every job-seeker in the marketplace, says the same thing. Why wouldn’t they? They all want the job, and they all have to stand out. Let’s take a look at some of these rules. Because once you know the rules, then you can start to break them! 


Recruiters work for and get paid by, the client, not you. They have to locate and then screen the best candidates they can find. You should hope that you are one of the best because, more than likely, they only get one or two candidates to submit for the job. Even if you are the best, you may be out of their price range, so you can’t be presented. 

Once you have been submitted, you are competing with candidates put forth by any other recruiters. If you are selected and placed into the job, then the recruiter gets paid. That’s why the next sound you hear after telling a poor-quality recruiter that you are neither interested nor available is a click. Recruiting is a numbers game. Don’t waste their time if you’re not making them money! To understand why recruiters are this way, check out LinkedIn Jobs and see how many applicants some of these jobs have. They can easily reach into the hundreds. No matter how good you are, there’s always someone better. If you accept that, you had better find another way to stand out. 

So what’s the rule with recruiters? Be kind to them, and they might be helpful to you. After all, they’re trying to make sure you’re going to be a good fit with your co-workers on your new job. 


The web is filled with job boards, all offering great advice on how to get a job. Unfortunately, much of this advice is conflicting. Resumes, in particular, are often a great source of this conflict. The rules of the resume game are that you should have a standard resume, whatever that means. They may tell you to format it differently, but overall the content is pretty much the same. Statistics vary, but pretty much the word on the street is that every recruiter spends between six and ten seconds viewing your resume. Can you imagine how boring it is to look at a hundred resumes that all look grotesquely the same? Can you say cross-eyed? 

Here’s the rule that I’m going to ask you to break at this point. Ignore the professional resume writers that you see on Job boards. If you really want your resume to stand out, check out Liz Ryan with her Human Voiced resume on LinkedIn. 

The ATS (Automatic Tracking System): God’s Gift to Recruiters

While recruiters want to hear from good, quality candidates, this tool has the opposite purpose. It has been designed with the singular goal of forcing every applicant to give up and run screaming into the night. If you complete the process, you have demonstrated not only perseverance but the uncanny ability to forgo rational thought and grind away until the process is done. 

Why do I say this? Because Automatic Tracking Systems are based on Artificial Intelligence in its earliest stages. Unless you have a standard resume in a standard format, the ATS will not understand what you have done to make yourself stand out. Then you will be forced to waste a great deal of time correcting what the machine failed to interpret correctly.

The rule here is to avoid the ATS at all costs. Find a way to get your resume to the hiring manager or the recruiter. Research on the company website, or LinkedIn or pick up the phone and schmooze a receptionist into helping you out.

Job-seeking Rules Are Meant to be Broken. Are You Game?

Every company wants the best person in every job. They simply don’t want to have to interview hundreds of people to find that person. You may be the best person for the job, but you may also be a lousy job-seeker. Looking for work is a sales job, and your resume is a sales tool; it doesn’t get you the job, it gets you the interview. But those thoughts are for a whole other article. You can get started on them here.

So go out and break some rules!