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Examine the expectations and inferences underlying selected job positions. Consider timely topics in career preparation and the struggle for fulfilling employment. Analyze what could be improved in either situation. If this blog reminds you too much of work, then peruse my namesake blog for lighter fare.

Fuck UWM and all universities! UW-Milwaukee and their brethren are mediocre. Click banner ads on ClixSense instead; it's a better use of time than a college education in the UW System.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Want to Be a Film Director? It's a LOT of Work Breaking Into the Field!

Update: The "Dara Says" Team has regrouped to try again! Their new goal of £3,000 ($4,748) is only 2.31% of the original target and hence is far more feasible. A few new perks exist, such as a replica of the character Jack's backpack stuffed with assorted film items the Director's Cut -- with background scenes which didn't quite fit into the narrative -- in exchange for £30 ($47.58). You may donate here until April 21.

I made the above GIFs by changing the color of the original logo in PhotoShop and then ordering the different-colored layers in ImageReady.

Original Article: For every big-budget Hollywood director, there are hundreds of film school graduates working outside the film industry due to the difficulty of breaking into the field (much like the heavily gated jobs in public policy and government administration, but that’s for a different post). The film maker’s dilemma goes beyond the typical quandary of supposedly “entry-level” jobs requiring several years of relevant experience (such as the notorious problem of not being taken seriously for a “corporate” job despite having years of freelance work experience). How extraordinarily difficult is the role of budding auteur?

It’s as challenging as raising over two hundred thousand dollars for a professional production. Despite being pocket change for a Hollywood studio, a modestly budgeted film (in the low six figures) costs the equivalent of a half decade’s wages of the everyday worker. Although commercial studios have the resources to fund dozens of such micro-budget films in a given year, few are approved as pilot projects due to the politics of parent companies, screenwriters’ guilds (unions), actors’ guilds (also unions), stagehands’ guilds (more unions), and established directors. If a screen writer wants his or her story to meet celluloid in this lifetime, then traditionally the only option has been to find some wealthy patrons who fancy being listed as the film’s executive or associate producers.

The advent of “crowdfunding,” or soliciting money from the general public via the Internet, has many believing the middle class may collectively fund those projects overlooked or spurned by wealthier individuals. This sounds good in theory but often fails in execution: whereas a well-monied patron may be convinced by an appeal to his or her particular fancies, a thousand or so less-monied donors need to be appealed to before the identical funding goal may be achieved. That means a lot more work in both market research and advertising!

In that sense, finding one or several wealthy patrons continues to be the only feasible means of bringing a film from concept to execution. The fidelity of that performance will depend on how much technology is needed to bridge the filmed reality with the produced fantasy of the narrative; how much may be budgeted for travel and permits; and the extent of editing necessary to match the presentation with the film maker’s imagination. And that’s for an independently produced film -- a production in any of the major studios will feature much higher labor costs due to the aforementioned unions of the various non-directorial staff.

But rest assured, none of the funds donated to Vasco de Sousa’s nascent film Dara Says will go towards the overvaluation of labor produced by unions. It goes to 13 non-union production staff, costumes for the actors, and high-caliber equipment to ensure the audiovisual elements of the film are as professional as you’d find in a major studio. You may read the budget summary for greater detail.

Who is Vasco? He’s a kindred intellectual with whom I corresponded on the soon-to-close LinkedIn Answers forum about various critical thinking questions such as what I fancy my job would have been if I had lived in a different historical period or geography.

What is the premise of Dara Says? It is a wry humor film about the realistic highs and lows caused by the bittersweet relationship of two working-class flat dwellers. Although filmed in Wales, its narrative could transpire in almost any region of a given Western country. The trailer and storyboards reveal a snippet of the plot: the girlfriend finds the boyfriend’s email account password in his diary and then checks his account, only for him to arrive home from work and infer immediately that she has been snooping (due to extra fingerprints on his diary cover and the URLs of his emails in the browser history).

Donations are accepted through February 20, 2013. Because the sidebar on the landing page enumerates the “thank you” rewards for donating at certain amounts of British pound sterling, I’ve conveniently converted those numbers into U.S. dollars:

Minimum donation:  £5 = $7.93
                  £10 = $15.87
                  £25 = $39.68
                  £50 = $79.36
                 £100 = $158.73
                 £200 = $317.46
                 £500 = $793.65
              £999.99 = $1,587.28
               £5,000 = $7,936.51
              £32,415 = $51,452.38
Total cost of project: £129,600 = $205,809.52

Although the project has achieved only £420 ($666.66) or .003% so far, all donations are refunded if the total of £129,600 ($205,809.52) is not achieved by February 20. The above conversions are based on the exchange rate of $1 per £0.63, or $1.59 per £1, ascertained as of this writing at the CNN Money® Currency Data page.

I’m interested in where the narrative goes because it reminds me of a very similar situation which I observed between acquaintances almost a decade ago. For the sake of privacy, I have changed their names in this anecdote.

“Miles” and “Bethany” were in the same school year that I was. They were friends in high school but became really involved with each other in college -- but not involved enough for Bethany’s liking. She grew suspicious of Miles’ fidelity because he chose to enroll at the community college in town and work the video store job at which he held seniority while Bethany left her hobby supply store job to enroll in a university in an unfamiliar city over 50 miles away.

Miles demonstrated his devotion by driving 100-mile round trips at least twice monthly satisfy their longings. It was always Miles who pulled the long hauls and spent hundreds of dollars on gas over the course of a year, but insecure Bethany needed more assurance and demanded Miles transfer to her university to be near every day. Miles acceded and joined Bethany on the campus before summer’s end.

However, this would only deepen Bethany’s hysteria as she had even more opportunities to monitor Miles. No longer could he mingle with his friends without her in the same room! Bethany’s need for control was so intense that she chastised Miles for – Gasp! -- having other friends who just happened to be women! Such restriction was eerily reminiscent of the puritanical prohibition of speaking with members of the opposite sex. While it’s not always a good idea to do so, one should not be subject to such a broadly impactful ban on freedom of speech and assembly.

That jealousy-fueled domineering wasn’t quite enough to deter Miles – it would take an act of genuine treachery to dissuade him from the harpy he adored. By winter of that year, Bethany proceeded to send me a message from Miles’ email boasting of how she learned his password by looking at his keyboard enough times when he had naively failed to distract onlookers during login. I responded back to ask why she bothered to check his account. Bethany admitted that she distrusted Miles because he was “talking with another woman after class” but that she could not find emails to or from her in Miles’ account.

Being familiar with how much of himself was poured into serving the never-satisfied Bethany, I forwarded her emails to Miles’ other email account to show him the incriminating evidence. Miles acknowledged receipt and thanked me, saying he needed to “work things out” with Bethany.

They split less than amicably by month’s end. The departure had to happen sooner or later because their relationship had the archetypal pattern of a secretive partner habitually manipulating an open and honest partner; if Miles had enjoyed such manipulation, then he would have remained with Bethany after the revelation of his violated privacy.

Befitting of an abuser of trust, Bethany’s grades declined too low to continue at the 50-miles-away university, and she transferred to Palooka University. She never landed a job in her desired field of international business, either, whereas Miles went on to become a beat writer for a county newspaper following his graduation from the journalism program. Sometimes karma is evident -- other times it is not -- but in this case it was!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Waithood: Not only for the Middle East and North Africa

Lexicographers at The Middle East Youth Initiative have coined the term “waithood,” or waiting for adulthood, to refer to the period of unemployment and living with one’s parents encountered by many young adults, especially male university graduates. This situation starkly reminds me of my own lot: multi-skilled in writing, statistical calculations, graphical editing software, and several web markup languages, yet severely underemployed.

Context is the primary difference between their situation and mine: whereas most of their peers are underemployed, many of mine have somehow secured employment in their field, although there are a few in my network who have resigned to working two part-time dead-end jobs which might reward them with an assistant manager position if they don’t burn out after five years. Because I cannot vouch for my peers (especially when they are shy about disclosing their secrets to success and out-presenting their peers at job interviews), I’ll speak for myself.

At first unemployed for a year after graduation, I then ran half the operations of a pizza place on tipping wage and now work occasionally as a technical assistant when I find statistics-related opportunities. Such white-collar deals are always short-term gigs, of course -- and as people who’ve applied to full-time staff web developer positions will tell you, freelancing and brief stints of internship-style work do not constitute “corporate” experience no matter how long you’ve been doing it.

There seems to be no end to this experience abyss due to employers requiring experience in a comparable firm (“corporate experience”) before they’ll hire; and yet, those other firms require the same before they’ll hire. It’s freelancing for life! Maybe add a few more internships if you drop another load of money to enroll in yet another ultimately futile degree program. (Do you think the employers’ attitudes towards the job applicant will change just because of another degree? No way!)

This begs the question as to how anyone gets a corporate web developer position in the first place: freelancing and internships don’t count towards experience, but somewhere in the incumbent’s past, he or she accrued years of “corporate” web development experience before being hired to such a position. If anyone has insight on this, then please comment below.

Dec. 7, 2013 Update: I've since procured formal recognition for my prior three years as Market Research Analyst. I'm still one to hawk my own properties, however -- the opportunity cost is minimal.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Suggestion for Tweaking the LinkedIn Skills Endorsement Algorithm

Many of you maintain a LinkedIn profile. Towards the end of my Taleo Universal review, I mentioned how very well LinkedIn exports your profile data to those ATS which permit LinkedIn to do so. Also, LinkedIn Jobs enables the user to apply to third-party vacancies in a matter of clicks by allowing upload of another resume to compliment the resume-style information on your profile. (It should be noted that many organizations posting to LinkedIn Jobs are now requiring applicants to apply on their own company website anyway, or else the applicant will not be a candidate -- check the vacancy details to make sure!)

However, some LinkedIn functions perform sub-optimally: the “Skills & Expertise” feature began as a cluster of word bubbles comprised of up to 50 skills to improve the number of keywords for which a user search would return his or her profile. LinkedIn then allowed “endorsements” or binary affirmations by first-degree connections for each skill and tweaked the search algorithm to factor these “yes/no” bonus points in its ordering of users in search results. That is an adaptation of the search engine convention of raising the order of pages having more inbound links than others, although it is unclear whether LinkedIn weighs endorsements from particular users more heavily than those from others. Such complexity in ranking would be similar to the Google innovation of ranking and averaging inbound links into a factor to be multiplied against the rest of the Google Page Rank algorithm.

The issue arises when LinkedIn encourages users to abandon current skills, many of which are already endorsed many times, with new skills having only one endorsement (the event which triggered the suggestion). For example, LinkedIn keeps on telling visitors to my profile to endorse me for "Budgets," but that is already on my profile under "Budgeting," which upon mouse-over parses to "Budgets" within the standardized LinkedIn vocabulary. (I chose "Budgeting" as one of my 50 skills before LinkedIn standardized its skill vocabulary.)

However, LinkedIn does not scan which definitions a person's skills parse to, only the unparsed text as displayed on the profile. So while someone searching for profiles having the skill "Budgets" will find my profile in the search results the same as he or she would while searching for "Budgeting" (due to LinkedIn translating them into the same term "Budgets"), the LinkedIn endorsement suggestion algorithm is poorly designed and consequently does not detect synonyms for those standardized skills in its database.

So why don't I retitle the skill "Budgeting" as "Budgets?" Because LinkedIn allows for deletion and addition, but not for editing. Therefore, I would need to delete the skill "Budgeting," losing three endorsements in the process, and then add "Budgets" to accept an endorsement for a “new” skill (to which the displaced skill already parses anyway).

Conversely, I’ve asked connections to endorse me for currently listed skills, such "Budgeting," and to ignore whatever “new” skills LinkedIn suggests, such as “Budgets.” I have all the 50 skills which I want to display and cannot sacrifice prior skill endorsements to include a replacement.

Be as vigilant when reviewing the blue box of newly endorsed skills which LinkedIn says you haven’t yet listed; chances are you already have a much-endorsed synonym for the skill in your skills list and that it parses into that “new” synonym-skill appearing in the blue box above your profile headline. Don’t accept the new endorsement unless you have a bunch of space remaining on your skills list for redundant skills.

It would be like listing the same job on your LinkedIn profile twice but with slightly different titles; your recommendations for the same employment position would be divided among your electronic representations of that same period of experience unless you tediously asked each recommender to make certain to click on the other position as well.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cover Letter for University of Louisville Web Developer

I found the position below on January 8, 2013. I’ve copied the vacancy description verbatim, and all errors therein are those of the organization posting the vacancy at URL:

Posted: 11/15/2012 Job ID: 28777
Title: Web Developer /Technology Specialist Intermediate

Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Visual Arts/New Media, IT/Graphics Design, Instructional/Educational Technology, or related field and two years professional experience, preferably in higher education, association or customer-focused environment. Must have demonstrable experience creating and maintaining multiple web pages and sites, combining a graphics perspective with navigation and programming skills.

Knowledge of web creation software, CSS, HTML, Java Script, PHP, MySQL, and supplemental multimedia software is required. Working knowledge of open source CMS software such as Plone as well as custom developed web applications is highly desirable. Must have working knowledge of online marketing tactics and applications including email engines, Google analytics, blogs and creating landing pages.

The University of Louisville's Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning seeks a visionary web developer who is energetic, team-oriented professional capable of handling multiple projects in a high energy department. The web developer position is responsible for the design, maintenance and continual improvement of the Delphi Center's website and its effectiveness in attracting and motivating internal and external visitors.

The position interfaces with all departments and aspects of the Delphi Center in maintaining the web presence of the unit. The web developer works within the Delphi Center's Marketing Department to ensure successful promotion of both internal education programs and external revenue generating programs through strategic use of the website.

The position also ensures compliance with accessibility, branding and copyright guidelines of the university. The position requires a self-starter who can work independently, establish the highest standards of performance, set and meet deadlines and collaborate with a diverse staff. Please attach cover letter, resume and at least 3 professional references with application. Salary is commensurate with experience.

I applied through the ATS provided in the link but found that poor man’s Kenexa does not permit the upload of cover letters or references -- quite problematic when the vacancy requires those! Therefore, I sent the following email to HR with my attachments and concerns:

Hello, UL!

Although I applied for the position Web Developer / Technology Specialist Intermediate (Job Id: 28777) via the Applicant Tracking System, the same would not permit upload of a cover letter or references.

Therefore, I have attached the aforementioned cover letter and references with my resume for the position. I hope to get the ball running on fixing the ATS so others won't distract you from what is assuredly a busy day.


Joseph Ohler, Jr.

Attachments: Joseph_Ohler_Jr_Web_Developer_Resume.doc, Joseph_Ohler_Jr_UL_Web_Developer_Cover_Letter.doc, Joseph_Ohler_Jr_Professional_References.doc

I will post an update when HR responds. Neither a person nor an ATS ever gave me notice of any decision beyond confirmation my application was received. So while they never said "yes," they also never said "no" -- much like United Council when I applied for Executive Director last summer, coming strongly off my independent budget review.

Although sending a direct email greatly increases the chances the cover letter will be read, most organizations do not consider out-of-state applicants for positions lower than executive or “C-level” management. I wrote the cover letter anyway to stretch my writing muscles as I am wont to do. Irrespective, I hereby present my cover letter to the world for personal gratification.

January 10, 2013

Dear University of Louisville:

I notice your Shelby Campus web developer position has been vacant for almost three months, or else the vacancy would have been “routinely removed from the jobs portal around 7:00 p.m. [any of the preceding] Monday[s].” By what fantastical hubris do I apply to the nigh-unfillable vacancy without coming across as an Icarus pining to pilot the Chariot of Phaethon?

Three of my five years of web development have been within the higher education sector. I imbue every project with a mythical mélange of accessibility-oriented design, technical coding acumen, methodical debugging techniques, and comprehensive gathering of client needs prior to commencement.

Although I hear you proclaim, "University bookstore experience is retail, not higher education," I assure you that ten score times as many HR screeners have exclaimed, "University bookstore experience is higher education, not retail!" Existentially, either statement is valid depending on your biases and on which statement serves your need of filtering particular candidates.

I take the dialectical approach in that materially, I have fulfilled the myriad duties of web developer in a higher education milieu by coding, while physically located on a university campus in a students-only role for the same, all manners of HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, and SQL in conjunction with the use of a content management system widely used by universities (Missouri Book Systems’ Insite) -- for the express purpose of earning revenue to sustain university operations while directly serving faculty, staff, and students (teleologically speaking).

I developed Atlantean foundations in design and coding while managing the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Bookstore website, responsible for processing $2.4 million annual revenue. I have since mastered the Herculean feat of integrating CSS, HTML, JavaScript, SQL, PHP, and embedded multimedia to create multifarious websites for clients who became gladdened as by the Elysian Fields! I am proudest of the website because it is the most ambitious and unique project I’ve undertaken on the odyssey to excellence.

Tons of mortals have reached for your Golden Apple but failed to answer the Riddle of the Employability Sphinx -- of how s/he will obviate your needs. If your three-month-old web developer opportunity remains posted as a fiction, then may the Don Quixotes among job seekers gallop unfettered to your illusory vacancy and smash gratifyingly into the windmill of reality! As our meta dialogue confirms, I am privy to your prank. Read my reviews of your position and other officious opportunities at:

Schedule a time to chat, or do not -- your job vacancy has become a plaything for the gods!


Joseph Ohler, Jr.
Enclosures: Résumé, Professional References

Joseph Ohler's Affiliate Click-for-Cash Program

Sunday, January 6, 2013

“Taleo Universal” Applicant Tracking System is Unqualified to Assist Job Applicants

While applying at a corporate job board yesterday, the website redirected from its namesake corporate domain to the dreaded TALent Exchange Online (TALEO) applicant tracking system (ATS). However, this page offered a new option for 2013: the “Taleo Universal” job applicant data repository.

I was initially intrigued that one of the Big Three ATS providers (the others being “Brass Ring” and “Kenexa”) would finally issue an app which permits central importation of data into all the subdomains of that ATS. After all, the prevention of mass resume blasts was one of the reasons why different firms licensed applicant dropboxes (databases consisting of user-created records) at different subdomains within the same ATS provider rather than host their repositories within a single, collective database.

What motive did Taleo have in making it easier for applicants to distribute their data to its client companies? One would presume additional profit, although there is no charge to use Taleo Universal; perhaps the aggregate characteristics of applicants are disclosed to marketing partners, although the end-user license agreement (EULA) explicitly states the personally identifying information of applicants will not be shared with anyone outside the human resources (HR) department at the organization(s) applied to.

Could a potential motive have been mercy towards those applicants who spend hours re-typing or re-pasting information into the same ATS form at different companies? If so, then the program’s implementation would never imply this!

Taleo Universal is an abominable abortion of an application -- read on to learn why. The program’s execution obscures any magnanimous intent so as to effectively mock the applicant as he or she ends up correcting mistakes caused by an extremely error-prone upload resume function. One is better off manually typing or pasting into each data field because at least you see everything as it happens rather than have to check for data transposed during the upload.

The job vacancy website of the company to which I was applying redirected me this log-in page:

That is a screen capture of when I logged back in after an unfortunate ejection -- more on the reason for that as we read on. I should note that if you enter "" into your browser, then it redirects to the error page here. Clicking “sign up” takes you to the namesake screen:

When you pass the sign-up page, you will be directed to either:

  1. A "prop" creation screen if you signed in at the main page; or
  2. The “resume upload” screen if you signed up at a third party’s redirection page (omitting the “prop” page).

Because I found this page only after attempting (and finally swearing off) the rest of the data population process, I chose a deprecating term which aptly describes the "Taleo Universal" application. There is only one "prop," or searchable hashtag of up to 32 characters, allowed per user to describe the (theoretically only) position sought.

You progress to the “resume upload” page after passing the “prop” screen. If you are redirected past the page without creating your tag and later want to create a “prop” hashtag (however unlikely after reading this review), then sign in here. Conversely, if you are stuck on the “prop” page and want to skip creating a hashtag, then click here.

The “resume upload” screen follows and is where Taleo Universal really falls apart. Whether you upload your resume like I initially did or paste your entire resume into the text area like I did the second try, the data will be scrambled into a nonsensical order (at least in the eyes of the human reader). Also, notice the Gumby knockoff hoisting that barbell -- the weight is probably inflatable.

The message atop the next screen is a flat-out lie: you’re not “almost done” because either Taleo Universal scrambled your data upon form population or you’ve skipped the resume upload and are manually entering your myriad data. Whereas the prior screens took perhaps three minutes tops if you’re not making screen captures, this data review screen will take the average applicant at least fifteen minutes.

A few minutes passed as I marveled at the jumbled data and made screen captures of the mess. I then left the swapped data in the fields (all mandatory, of course) so that I could save the session to have enough time to correct the data.

So what you do you think my resume looked like before upload? Below are screen captures of my data before importation:

The data being shuffled among random fields like a roulette wheel wasn’t bad enough; the race against the clock to fix the data before my session timed out brought my attention to another SUBSTANTIAL problem! Notice the lack of a normal “save” button which lets you remain on the page; the only button is “save and continue,” which is VERY problematic because it immediately submits your data to the third-party dropbox (of the organization to which you are applying)! The courteous ATS provides such a button or at least a lengthy time (twenty minutes) to expiration because session timeouts are common when using secured data entry forms.

Taleo Universal rudely provides neither by having only a de facto submit button and a session timeout period of no longer than ten minutes. This forces a situation of three choices:
  1. Type like a secretary on speed, rapidly tabbing between your word processing document resume and the applicant form to verify at a glance the snippets you enter match those on your resume, occasionally copying and pasting into lengthier data fields such as those asking for job accomplishments;
  2. Take your time to double-check for completeness, accuracy, and absence of typos, thereby guaranteeing a session timeout; or
  3. Treat yourself with dignity by doing yourself the favor of skipping this crummy excuse of an ATS and telling your acquaintances why they should avoid Taleo Universal.

After the above experiences, I chose Option Three.

I do have a few additional screens for informational purposes: the screen below is the Taleo Universal home page. It goes by “Talent Exchange” here and by “Universal Profile” on some third-party websites which redirect to this domain, but they’re all Taleo Universal, much like each country has multiple names (“Old Scratch,” “Krampus,” etc.) for its concept of a devil.

Did you notice how all the people waiting in line inside that home page graphic are identical, even with the same haircut and dark cyan hue? All except for the green guy -- in the first panel of the graphic on the "promote yourself" page, he looks like a disingenuous @$$#ole politically sanitized stooge, just like the hacks misguided developers who programmed that horrible, horrible "Taleo Universal" program!

You are better served by an ATS which has a "populate profile with LinkedIn" function, which works ten times better and debuted almost a year prior to Taleo Universal. I could write another blog post about how flawlessly LinkedIn ports your information to those Applicant Tracking Systems which allow it, but "flawless" is all that needs to be said. Compare the "import LinkedIn profile data" function to a different algorithm of directly uploading or parsing a text area of pasted resume, and most readers will agree.

At this rate, Taleo Universal will become notorious for being less wanted than an unqualified job applicant. Much like the aforementioned job seeker, Taleo Universal sends an email begging for validation:

I have not and will not click! The only way Taleo Universal could be worse is by including an overlay menu to mess up the tab order, or the sequence in which focus is passed among elements on a web page when the visitor presses the “tab” key. That sequence is usually the order in which elements are output onto the web page. I always test tab order when reviewing an ATS because it is critical for individuals who either find themselves without a mouse or otherwise have limited arm mobility and hence utilize a keyboard almost exclusively.

Web developers sometimes change x-y coordinates and layer order via directional and “z-index” style sheet modifications. It is important they also change the “tab-index” property to reflect this updated position so that users are not subjected to warping a screen or two away from the next logical tab destination. Therefore, the addition of such a broken tab order would expedite Taleo Universal’s descent to the all-time bottom of ATS programs.

Beyond its Universal program, Taleo could further stick it to job applicants by partnering with McAfee Antivirus! Such an unholy alliance could function like this: McAfee surreptitiously installs into the user’s browser as part of the Taleo user agreement such that refusal to install McAfee constitutes refusal to scan uploaded documents or manually entered data, thereby disqualifying the applicant who refuses such installation as part of the EULA. Taleo-McAfee would be a truly treacherous, terrible twosome!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

ATS Blocks Cover Letter for "Web Content Writer"

I assembled a targeted resume and wrote a compelling cover letter in response to a vacancy for "web content writer" advertised on LinkedIn Jobs. I sailed through the applicant tracking system (ATS) until the final question, "Do you live within commute distance of Cambridge, MA? (Long-distance candidates / relocations will not be considered.)"

Neither the location nor that residency requirement was mentioned in the vacancy description, and hence I would not have bothered if such foreknowledge were had. The question therefore produced two options:

  1. Lie to pass the ATS, and then have to explain to the phone screener why I live in the Midwest and not in Massachusetts; or
  2. Admit living outside commute distance and risk immediate discard by the ATS.

I chose the latter and was notified of the rejection the next day. However, I am not one to let a good cover letter go to waste; here it is for the world to inspect!

January 2, 2013

Dear [NAME from LinkedIn]:

[BRAND] and I have a LOT in common! We are:

  1. Best in their class;
  2. Desirably hip; and
  3. Criminally overlooked!

As web content writer, I shall educate the ignorant plebeians as to why [BRAND] products are the best anyone can buy, irrespective of their station in life. My fit for the position rests upon my proven knack for catchy copy and unique key phrases. I also incorporate accessibility-oriented design, technical coding acumen, and comprehensive gathering of client needs prior to commencing a new project.

I developed strong foundations in SEO and content management while managing the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Bookstore website, responsible for processing $2.4 million annual revenue. I increased revenue by more than $24K through a combination of email marketing and greater use of statistically rare terms in titles, headings, image captions, and inbound link tags. This approach combined standardized tags for ease of search while using unique terms for more detailed queries.

I have since founded my own ecommerce business,, and raised over 80,000 home page views from ground zero while sweeping the first SERP for namesake searches. This feat is quite impressive for a business which had no name recognition (due to not existing) and never sends unsolicited emails.

I also maintain a Zazzle store featuring my own tee shirt designs. Each product page is optimized with SEO-boosting tags to dominate the first SERP for relevant search results. But what does this mean for you? It means I have a turnkey slogan for you! Are your ready?!?

“Don’t be dull -- get [BRAND]!”

You’re welcome, you’re welcome!


Joseph Ohler, Jr.

Enclosure: Résumé

Joseph Ohler's Affiliate Click-for-Cash Program

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Inspirational College Admissions Application Essay (for the Returning Graduate)

Dear Admissions Board:

In this letter, you will learn why I’m a fantastic fit for [UNIVERSITY NAME]. Although this is a written document and not a speech, I’ll be sure to repeat this main idea because I read such a simplistic structure is what rocks your socks and niggles your knickers.

You may have noticed my prior degrees from Palooka University. Can you imagine the discouragement of applying to jobs in your field of study, never getting an interview, and then acquiescing to applying at unskilled labor jobs, only to find the HR managers do not acquiesce to an interview? Where is the reciprocity of rewards for “bettering oneself” at college? Thus, if employers see me as a professional student, then damn it, perpetual campus life I shall live!

Yes, I am a college graduate returning to college -- not to gain additional “knowledge and experience” which employers value about as much as a dirty rag, but to live as a professional student! After all, I’ve only used up half of my federally insured $120,000 student loan cap; why not leech -- I mean "live" -- off subsidized debt for as long as possible? I do recall being taught explicitly in my philosophy class that morality and ethics are relative -- and there’s no law (yet) against being a lifelong student debt borrower.

You may ask, “What is the utility of repeating the university experience?” Imagine the possibilities: making another run for student president; telling students why their studies are futile; even a chance at non-competitive employment by way of students-only jobs! At last, the dignity of employment!

So why am I checking out [UNIVERSITY NAME] rather than Palooka University again? I’m seeking to enroll in your lackadaisical university because it’s close enough to where my parents live, and hence I may conserve rent money while minimizing distractions from studies. I suppose you won’t like that, however, because this means I’ll drive to and from campus -- thereby producing greenhouse emissions! Oh well, I can buy a carbon credit when I land that first professional job!

In this letter, you have learned why I’m a fantastic fit for [UNIVERSITY NAME]. Although your campus is near, I can always take long-distance courses if not admitted -- online universities are gaining currency and might just someday put you out of business -- or out of state tax dollars.

I hope you won’t hold it against me for being savagely honest, as a renowned poet once wrote, “Truth is not always beautiful.” Either way, don’t fret -- you’ll get some other chump’s tuition money if you don’t get mine.