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Recruiter for a Day: Would You Hire You?

September 20, 2012
by Dave Ellis, YouTern

You feel your resume was perfect (even your mother proofed). Your cover letter came from a template you found online (you have every confidence it was the best of the bunch).

And yet… you don’t get called in for an interview. What could have happened?!

To answer this question, let’s make you “Recruiter for a Day”.

As a recruiter you must hire the best person possible – any failures will result in negative consequences for you, and your company. Using real examples from resumes received by YouTern recently, what hiring decisions would you make regarding these applicants?

Inappropriate Information or TMI

You receive the following data on a resume:

  • Date of Birth: 19 Jan 1979
  • Sex: Male
  • Nationality: Indian
  • Marital Status: Single

What do you think? Does the volunteering of this information – that a recruiter is not allowed to ask in an interview – in the interests of “transparency”… or is it just TMI?

How recruiters think: The unfair truth is that discrimination does exist. This is why laws have been enacted that prevents our recruiting colleagues from asking such questions about marital status and ethnicity. This information would probably make most of us uncomfortable… and “uncomfortable” is not a great first impression.


Write and pitch press relesases intended to reach out to community members”. (emphasis, mine)

What do you think? Does this typo get overlooked as “it happens all the time”? Or does this lack of attention to detail eliminate this candidate from consideration?

How recruiters think: We recruiters are looking for the best candidates; especially in a difficult economy we have more than enough applicants from which to choose. We are also overwhelmed with our workloads – and need to weed out candidates as quickly as possible. Most important, know that word processor spell-check features are readily available and quite accurate… yet for some reason there are typos on this resume?!

One other note: During your day as a recruiter, nearly every candidate will tell you they have “great follow-through skills” and “attention to detail”. Do typos indicate this to be true? What else did they throw on the resume that isn’t true?

Resume “Spray and Pray”

You are looking to hire an Intern for your company – which is most definitely  not a graphic design agency or firm. However, you receive a resume from an applicant with the following objective statement:

“To gain a position or internship at a Graphic Design firm…”

What do you think? Has this person read your carefully crafted job posting that outlines the available position? Have they done enough homework to be considered a serious candidate? Have they made any attempt to tailor their resume to this specific opportunity?

How recruiters think: If a candidate doesn’t tailor their resume to align closely with your needs do you take a chance and overlook this? Or does this as though the candidate is blindly sending the same cover letter and resume to every online position they find? As a recruiter, don’t you want to know that candidates are genuinely interested in your position – and have done their homework – before seriously considering their application?

Not a Good Fit

In this example, the position for which you’re hiring is an entry-level social media position… the job description clearly states the requirements, which include some basic digital media knowledge, and that the responsibilities are… “entry level”.

You receive a resume that includes this title:“Public Relations Director: Jan 2007 – Current”. Another title on the same resume indicates that the candidate has owned their own company: Co-Founder and Marketing Manager: April 2005 – Current.”

Yet another resume you receive indicates no social media experience, but the candidate has listed these skills: cleaning after butcher and Babysitting: infants & children”.

What do you think? Why would a PR Director and Co-Founder want to work an entry-level social media position? Why would a butcher-assistant-slash-babysitter expect you to take their application seriously?  Would you interview these candidates? As an extremely busy, (and more likely) near-overwhelmed recruiter, do you want to – do you have the time or energy – to “just give them a chance”?

How recruiters think: If we spot some sign of potential (talent, fit, attitude…) many of us recruiters are okay with interviewing candidates who are slightly under or over-qualified (emphasis on “slightly”). If the candidate is far from qualified on either end of the spectrum, however, perhaps the candidate should have thought twice about clicking that “Apply Now” button. They aren’t just wasting their time, they’re wasting yours.

These are just a few examples from a handful of resumes received at YouTern – and thousands of other companies. Each is a challenge for the recruiter – and, in our recruiter role reversal exercise, a challenge for you.

Before you next apply for a job, take a couple moments to review your resume and cover letter to make sure the information is appropriate, that it meets the position’s requirements and is absolutely typo free.

Look at your application not from the candidate perspective… but from the experience you’ve gained as “Recruiter for a Day”.

Then ask yourself…  would you hire you?

For more information about our partner YouTern, please visit:!

About the Author: Dave Ellis is an original member of the YouTern team and instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). Dave serves as YouTern’s Community Manager and Content Manager, and enjoys his role as the company’s overall “Man Behind the Curtain”. In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals. Follow Dave on Twitter!

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