Hiring Tips for Idiots

14 Jan

Since July, I’ve hired five people. Hiring has been part of my job for well over ten years, so it’s with a relative amount of confidence that I’ve deduced that soft economy has bred a new type of job seekers: Dumb ones. Wait –  that might not be true – there is probably proportionally the same percentage of dumb job seekers as there was in the past, it’s just that I’m running into these people more frequently than I have in the past – both because there are simply MORE folks looking for work, and because *dumb* job seekers are spamming employers with their resume, applying for positions that they aren’t remotely qualified to hold.

For example, I’m hiring for a seasoned account director with 8+ years’ experience selling strategically to C-level titles at Fortune 1000 companies. I’ve received resumes from multiple former professional hockey players with limited sales experience (to be fair, this *was* in Minnesota) and recent college grads with absolutely NO work experience (one actually tried to persuade me that his lack of experience was nothing his *attitude* couldn’t overcome).

Even people with good experience have managed to demolish their chances with poorly written cover letters. In just the past week I encountered the following:

“An honest, trustworthy and reliable street fighter, you won’t find a harder worker or a smarter worker.”

Did I mention this is a SALES position I’m hiring for? Is street fighting supposed to be a *desirable* thing – or is there something about the Chicago sales market that I haven’t figured out yet?

I shared this cover letter excerpt on Facebook, and one of my Chicago friends commented, “Now that I know he’s from Chicago, I call Bull$hit. Any Chicago street-fighter knows when he pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way!”

Tip of the hat to my friend Brian for letting me know that this guy may have possessed mad skillz, but his street cred probably wouldn’t take him very far.

Another applicant sounded good, but his energetic use of quotation marks and his odd, self-invented phrases made me wonder if his “qualifications” were enough to land the “job.” This is lifted from his cover letter, verbatim:

“I am more than willing to ‘carry a bag’ as well – whatever it takes to reach the ‘goal’.”

Out of curiosity, I *did* check Urban Dictionary to see if either of these were sexual euphemisms. All I could find was the obvious, which was that goal means – to quote UD – “’I scored’ when friends ask what happened with a girl.”

On second thought, maybe I need to re-word my ad if people think there’s a chance they’re going to “score” if I hire them?

Even when people make the paper cut, they can still (and often do) hang themselves in the interview. A few weeks back, I interviewed a woman in-person with whom I’d had several productive phone conversations.  I asked her to give me an example of how she productively worked with a team to reach a goal. She went on a tear that made Hillary Clinton sound like a contender for Ms. Congeniality. I think she must’ve seen the apprehension on my face because she wrapped it up by blurting:

“But don’t be worried. I’m not always that tough! In fact, for the most part, I’m a real pussy.”  AWKWARD PAUSE  “… Cat.”

And who says this has been a completely bear market? Meow.

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