Culture · Her Views

5 ways to lose the perfect job applicant

I’ve done a lot of job hunting over the last year. With the national unemployment rate near 10%, and closer to 14% in California, there are lots of people giving advice to job-seekers on this subject. Clearly it’s a buyer’s market. Yet the poor employers bemoan their fate, reviewing 300-400 applications for one job and no good way to distinguish between them.

Well, I regularly check between 15-20 internet job sites, follow job-tweeters on Twitter, and have joined job groups on LinkedIn. And I’ve got some advice for you “employee seekers.” Here are five ways you may actually be shutting out the perfect applicant.

1. Require resumes to be posted in text. Frankly, if you’re looking through 300 nondescript, intentionally depersonalized documents,that’s just… dumb. Let applicants upload PDFs and see more of their personality: formal, informal, creative, unusual, professional, careless or just plain dull. Layout is an obvious and very helpful way to distinguish between resumes. For example, from my resume you could tell I’m clever and creative as well as extremely qualified. And now you’re just a little bit curious… aren’t you?

2. Insist – in all caps, of course – SALARY HISTORY IS REQUIRED TO BE CONSIDERED for the position, without posting your own salary range. We get that you’re looking to eliminate some of those text documents and numbers help, but here’s the thing. You could shut out the perfect, most qualified, best-fit applicant based on a cursory glance at the numbers. And hello – numbers are the most flexible part of the equation at this point. Plus, posting a salary range allows potential applicants to opt out, saving time and trouble for both of us.

3. Cloak yourself in absolute anonymity. Provide no contact information – web site, email, or phone number, because of course you want nothing from us except our qualifications. And salary history. But again, while you may not want to answer calls about where you are in the process, you could be missing out on informative conversations and perceptive questions that might help bring someone to your attention – positively or negatively.

4. Never – ever – communicate with applicants. You’re incredibly busy and couldn’t possibly acknowledge all 300 of them. And we just love sitting at home sending resumes out into the ether and never knowing what happens to them. But remember, you posted a job and invited people to apply. At the absolute minimum, common courtesy would suggest you send an email notifying applicants when the position has been filled. It’s not that hard – you’re getting most applications by email anyway. I could easily help you set that up. If you had my resume you’d know that.

5. Honestly, I could only think of four. Try to think of it as doing more with less.

2 thoughts on “5 ways to lose the perfect job applicant

  1. My personal pet peeve? Firms that require a 4 year degree for entry level positions. I understand it’s an employer’s market right now, but as one with over 30 years experience, it’s frustrating to be eliminated from consideration. A Bachelor’s degree does not guarantee knowledge. I know many college graduates who cannot form a coherent sentence without spelling or grammatical error.


  2. #4 Happened to me recently. It took 4 emails and 2 phonecalls for me to fins out that my application had been received and that the position had been filled. However, I was encouraged to apply again should another position open up.

    At the risk of sounding off as conceited, I am convinced that I would have done an awesome job for them BUT now I have a lousy impression of the company and won’t re-apply if another position opens there.


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