Looking for a job? Please tell the truth in your resume

We recently had an opening where I work for a casual (3-4 days a week) developer. Someone mid-ish level that could handle creating custom WordPress websites without too many problems. It’s the first time that I’ve been on the employers side of the process, and it sure was an eye-opener!

The first problem we had was applicants. No matter how many times we said “Must have at least 3 years commercial experience in developing custom WordPress themes and plugins”, because that normally means that we could find someone that had 6 months or so, there was only around 20% of applicants that had actually used WordPress before. There was about 5% that had actually done some programming in it before…

Add to that the people that were looking for full-time work when it’s put out there as casual, those that live in different parts of the country and wanted to work remotely (we don’t do that), but the worst was that we got around 20 applications from people living overseas looking for a job in this country hoping that we would sponsor their employment.

Out of the pile of crud that I waded through, we ended up with three applicants that didn’t sound too bad. One that did some websites for himself, but only had a very small portfolio of mostly cookie-cutter theme modifications. One that was (on paper at least) good at programming, but didn’t know a whole lot about WordPress and was mainly involved in back-end development before. Finally there was one that had a couple of examples, but was just out of “technical institute” training.

The first one seemed the best, and came across well in the interview. He said that he knew PHP, had worked with WordPress for about 2 years, had done custom work, knew about SQL and cPanel and all of the things that we needed, so he ended up getting the job.

And that’s where it fell apart.

As soon as he started working, I could tell that he wasn’t fast. After two days he started to ask me questions about how things worked, and it became painfully clear that he didn’t know anything about PHP at all. This dawned on me when he couldn’t understand what an array was or what it was for. For someone that told us that he could do the job, it was… disappointing, to say the least.

As you can imagine, he lasted about 2 weeks until we could get through some of a small backlog, but after that we couldn’t give him anything more than a basic HTML layout to do, so we had to let him go. It was terrible for him, and bad for us because we’ve wasted all of the resources that we’ve put into the search on someone that just couldn’t do even 5% of what he said he could.

So to everyone out there looking for a job, please be honest. I’m not saying don’t talk yourself up, because we all need to do that, but just don’t list something on your resume and say that you can do it in person if you can’t. You will be found out, and it will come back to bite you.

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