Social engineering your job application.

So how do you increase your chances of actually getting an interview? I’m tempted to say “don’t suck” but the golden rule of advice is “Tell people something they can implement” so I’ll give some guidance around some social engineering techniques you can use to make your application more attractive.

So how do you increase your chances of actually getting an interview? I’m tempted to say “don’t suck” but the golden rule of advice is “Tell people something they can implement” so I’ll give some guidance around some techniques you can use to make your application more attractive.
The usual provisios are: If you’re super qualified and totally l33t, you likely don’t need any of this advice. If you are a Python Developer with 8 years of experience in large scale servers , then you could send in an application consisting of your current job title written on a beer mat.

This advice is for you if:

  • You’re junior enough and need the boost.
  • If the job isn’t a great fit and the employer/recruiter needs convincing.
  • If you’re switching up sectors and your experience might look a bit weird.

Basically, if your CV isn’t going to leap off the page saying “hello, I am the person”, you might need this. (Read it anyway though, I need the page hits for my ego)

Social engineering is, basically, brain hacking. It’s using information about a person or organisation to manipulate them into doing what you want. Manipulate, I feel, is very harsh. It’s not like you’re getting them to do something they don’t WANT to do. You’re just doing a bit of intel to boost your application’s chance of success.

Read the job advert.

OMG, Seriously, actually, really do read it. About 50% of applicants into my job ads have basically no chance of getting the job because they’re about as qualified to do the job as I am. Imposter syndrome is a thing, yes, so I don’t want to dump on all the people who lack self confidence. (*raises hand*)

But if you don’t have a minimum of 50% of the skills on the advert, you are not a match. There’s lots of arguments about this point and it’s a whole other post (at some stage) giving out about how terrible job adverts are.

SAYING THAT, read the intro, look at the company and what they do. For example, if the company’s main product deals in processing large amounts of data in the cloud and you have exactly 0 experience in cloud technologies, this is not for you. However, if they are an in-house B2B finance application and you currently work on a desktop application for accountants, then that’s relevant experience.
What I’m saying is, turn on the logic centre of your brain. Imagine if you had to phone this company and talk down the phone regarding your application. If you had to do that, instead of hitting [APPLY], would you still do it? (social anxiety not withstanding). Even imagining writing a cover note can either manage your expectations or talk you into applying for a job you initially thought wasn't a good fit.

Research their current employees

Check out who on Twitter is saying they work for that employer. Scope out LinkedIn - their company page should lead you to a list of employees. See what levels people were hired in at, what kind of companies they came from. That should give you a good idea of what they're looking for.

Seeing if people had the skills on the spec you have in hand before they started in the same job will give you some perspective on how flexible the requirements are. You'll usually see that there's a lot more flex than you ever thought there would be.

Research the company’s career page

Now you’ve found a job you want and you know you got those skillz, you need to add a cover note.(Adding a cover note isn’t always needed but if need this info, you’re not the candidate with 500 ignored InMails from thirsty recruiters. You need a cover note.)
What is the company most proud of? It’s going to be something. Their page will be all “We’re invested in training!” or “Career advancement!!” or “Flexibility for your family!”
Chances are, your application will be first read by someone in HR or the Recruitment team who has drank the Kool-Aid in regard to this mission statement.
Providing your general outlook matches with what the career page says (and if it doesn’t, this might not be a culture to suit you, FYI), talk about it your cover note/bio/achievements.“I’m ambitious so Bastard Inc’s mission statement of stabbing your way to the top really resonated with me. In my last position, I was promoted after 12 months when I stabbed my supervisor in the lift after our morning stand-up”

Case study:

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

I basically googled “python developer New York jobs” and this is the first non-agency one I found. So I’m not accused of shilling some random company, I’ve removed the company name.
So their mission statements are oriented towards hard work, team work, and investment in their product. For context, this is a tech incubator, primarily doing blockchain stuff.

If you're applying into this job, you'll need to emphasise the "we", demonstrate innovations you've personally worked on in previous roles, and show that you plan to work hard. It really seems like this is a work all hours kinda place! Culture and team fit is important to them too, so display some of your personality - it'll make whoever reads the application want to talk to you. Extra-curricular activities in the blockchain realm or other "new" technologies would also be excellent to include.

Tailor your CV to fit this job in particular.

Yes, it totally sucks to redo your CV for every job. However, you want to leave your current job where you are required to refactor legacy PHP for 12 hours every day so suck it up. Read through the required skills. Anything relevant you have done, write it up in achievement form. These should be demonstrable improvements or projects completed in terms that matter to a business.

Refactored 10,000 lines of legacy PHP, improving page load speed by 75%
Closed 800 tickets a day by deleting customer accounts from system if they had any typos in support requests

This isn't an exhaustive guide and there's a lot more you can do - scope out the Head of Development, see that they're into tabletop gaming, mention that in the hobbies section of your CV. Follow target companies on Twitter to get an idea of how they present themselves publicly. Unless you're only applying to, like, a handful of epic jobs - this is proba.. definitely overboard. I don't want y'all creeping out your future employers, like.

I just want to give you a few handy tips to give you the assist.

Best of luck out there! :D DO NOT GET ARRESTED AND BLAME ME. If you end up in a tree outside a potential employers house, I did not tell you to do that.

If you're looking at a job and wondering if you're a fit - feel free to hit me up on and I'll take a look and tell you what I think.