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Wednesday, July 18th, 2001

how NOT to get a job

I’ve been doing some recruiting lately. The process looks like this: I write up a job description, post it to a website or mailing list where qualified candidates are likely to see it, and then wait for emails to come in.

The job description lists specific requirements for the position, and instructions for candidates to follow. Some of the skills requirements are identified as non-negotiable, because although it’s a nice theory to “hire for attitude and train for skills,” small companies often don’t have time to train for skills, especially when the option of hiring for them exists.

In the place where I list my contact info, I request that candidates send a plain-text (ASCII) resume. I do this for three reasons:

  1. my email program manages attachments poorly, so I hate receiving attachments
  2. most people send Microsoft Word files, which are a common vector for viral infection
  3. Approximately 25% of candidates eliminate themselves from consideration by failing to follow simple instructions, saving me valuable minutes of work

This is background info for the remarkable tale of The Applicant Who Was Smarter Than Me…

The other night I received a 17k email in response to my job posting. Attached to the 17k email was a 34k Word file. This is generally a bad sign, but I’m a sucker for personal narrative, so I began to read.

Contained in the 17k email were seven arguments, crushed together like vertebrae after a surfing injury, which dissected my job posting and argued just about every line as being unfair or poorly-considered in some way. Had this been a job posting for a position on a debate team, I’d have responded with an offer letter, forgoing the interview process entirely. Alas, this was not the case.

The candidate argued that his Word-file attachment was justified because Word is “the best tool for the job.” He then instructed me to download StarOffice, which although free and useful, doesn’t run on my Mac. Also it’s an 80mb download.

Next he admitted that he hadn’t worked on enough PHP/MySQL websites to qualify because he hadn’t “hopped across 16 different jobs in 3 years,” as if that is the only way to gain meaningful experience.

Next, the candidate ranted on for 50 lines about why our database software is inadequate. He assumed we’d been blinded by the hype, and that we’d done no testing to determine if this software would perform as we needed. He ignored the fact that we’d been in business for three years on this same database platform. He committed the sin he accused us of committing, in fact: without any basis for judgement, based strictly on hearsay, he concluded that our chosen database platform was inadequate for our needs.

Interesting case, these critical/analytical types who don’t appear to own a mirror.

posted to channel: Personal
updated: 2004-02-22 22:49:16

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