Comedy meets fiasco in spy application

VCAT backed lawyer for outsourced resumé for ASIO job

My all-time favourite resume writer story. This is from The Age in 2018. I will make comments on it in the next blog.

“A lawyer who paid an online resumé company $600 to write her a job application for Australia’s spy agency, has successfully sued the business after it misspelt ASIO and used someone else’s name to apply.

Jobseeker Susan Cole, aged in her 50s, filed a 136-page complaint with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal against 1300 Resume after missing out on her dream job because of a CV she says was “littered with errors”.

Ms Cole hired the company, which specialises in government job applications, in early March to rework her resumé and write a selection criteria response for a position in the graduate lawyer program at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

After a series of unsuccessful attempts at landing a job, the Master of Laws graduate said she bought the company’s gold-level application package looking for the edge that could get her over the line.

“It was a mystery to me,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.”

However, what she ended up receiving did not match her expectations, prompting her to take the company to VCAT.

“To have such a poor quality, I just could not believe it,” she said.

In its defence filed to the tribunal, the company described Ms Cole as trying to “make a profit out of her experience”.

Before the legal dispute, Ms Cole sent through some documents to help the company write her application, including a previous CV. She asked that her order be completed a day before the ASIO applications closed at the end of March, as she was going away on holiday. She organised to pay the company in instalments.

With the deadline approaching, the company sent the material back in time for Ms Cole to lodge her application online. But as she was running late for her trip, Ms Cole said she did not have time to check their work before uploading it.

When she returned, Ms Cole proofread the documents for the first time and realised that the wrong name, “Danielle Garcia”, had been written at the bottom of the resumé.

Another error referred to ASIO as ASIC, which is the acronym for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

She was also unhappy with the formatting of the CV and that the response to the graduate position’s selection criteria was 400 words over the limit.

“I have spoken to the ASIO recruitment team and they have confirmed that the system will automatically delete any words after it reaches the maximum,” Ms Cole said in an email to the company a week later.

“I am devastated, as I would have liked to progress to the next stage.”

Ms Cole was entitled to two job applications under the package she bought, however she did not use the second.

In response, 1300 Resume owner Monique Thompson acknowledged that there had been errors in the documents but said they could have been fixed “in five minutes”.

She said that job outcomes were not guaranteed and that Ms Cole had a new professional resumé for future applications but was refusing to use it.

“I feel she is trying to be nasty and make a profit out of her experience which is unethical and wrong,” she wrote.

Ms Thompson told The Age that she had worked in the resumé-writing industry for more than 20 years and that her company had many repeat customers and referrals.

“I’m a proud person and I’m really good at what I do and it makes you feel like crap,” she said. “Something like this has never happened before.”

Ms Cole filed a string of emails, text messages and job application documents to VCAT supporting her claim. She is planning to take the matter to a higher court if the refund is not paid.

“I’m doing this out of principle,” she said.

In awarding Ms Cole a partial refund of $450 plus her application fee of $62.70, VCAT member Danica Buljan agreed that 1300 Resumes had failed under Australian consumer law to provide services with “due care and skill”.

Ms Buljan wrote in her reasons that Ms Cole had received a corrected CV, “albeit later than she originally requested”, and that 1300 Resume was “entitled to some recompense for the services it has provided to her.”

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