[Some bloggers cleverly carry a theme from one post to the next. I’m not into that. Honest: I wasn’t looking to flow the theme from Pissing on the applicant into today’s post. Toilet paper just kinda backed up into the system when JaneA posted a comment on Readers’ Forum: HR’s #1 job: Poisoning the well?]

Businesses that are hiring are so intent on gathering as many resumes as possible that they forget “more is not better.”

Over at the Wall Street Journal (that paragon of Job Board Journalism), Mike Michalowicz touts his method for diving into the resume dumpster. When Michalowicz posts a job, he tells applicants to include — word for word — a certain sentence from his ads in their job applications. Then he lets an e-mail filter find the applications that include the magic sentence, and he deletes the rest.

“I only consider applications that contain the sentence, which cuts the number of résumés I have to look at by upwards of 80%.”

Nice trick. He wouldn’t need it if he’d stop solicting thousands of applications by posting job ads.

Employers like Michalowicz have themselves to blame for the “overwhelming response from unqualified applicants.” If you ask to have a dumpster full of resumes delivered to your e-mail bin, you’ll get them. Job boards like Monster.com, CareerBuilder, TheLadders and even the WSJ’s very own job board are ready to charge you for garbage delivery. You get what you pay for.

Then I noticed that Michalowicz is “the author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. He is an advocate of a business philosophy by the same name.”

I believe it. Toilet paper resumes seem to fit right in. More feels better.

I pose this question to Michalowicz and to every employer (which I believe is the majority of employers) that consider recruiting and hiring a pain in the ass:

If you can ask job applicants anything you like — including asking them to include this sentence in their submissions: “It is with my utmost respect I hereto surrender my curriculum vitae for your consideration.” — why don’t you just ask them to tell you how they’d do the job profitably?

You’d have a lot more fun reading those submissions once your e-mail filters cleaned up the mess you made when you flicked open the sewer valve. Or, you could avoid the resume sewer altogether. And you’d get a free bonus: You won’t have to wipe.


  1. You know I’ve startled more than a few potential employers by saying, “can I describe to you how I would do this job?” which is preceded by the question, “what’s your measure for success for the person you hire for this job six months and a year from now?”

    If I can’t get an answer to the first question that makes sense, the interview is doomed.

    Beats decorating the manager’s office with TP.

  2. I agree, Nick. I think the job boards are doomed. Well, not the job board itself because there might be too much inertia behind them. I guess that is what Monster et al are dependent upon. Years back, I was about to kill one of our company’s best products which was being replaced by a newer model. The issue was how do we maintain service, support, supplies. One of our board members told me, that no matter what you do, someone will continue buying the outdated and inefficient product. I am told, by friends who are still at THAT company, that customers are STILL asking for this old product. So job boards most likely will not die. Their outdated business model…pay to post WILL. Slowly and now more quickly than ever, companies are finding our pay per click model at our job search engine LINKUP.com vastly more efficient. It is free to the job seeker and we present ONLY jobs from company websites. The job seeker is sent DIRECTLY there, there is No FREE ever for the job seeker. http://www.linkup.com.

  3. Volume is vanity, profit is sanity. Thers’e an old joke about a bible salesman: he says ‘I lose 25 cents on every one I sell, but I make it up on volume.’

  4. If you’re looking for employees who are considerate of others and hygienic, I’d suggest that the buried pearl in the ad be ‘don’t forget to wipe’.

  5. This bit from the article really jumped out at me:

    “Most important, business owners want employees who will do as they’re told.”

    Um, yeah, right, ok. Good luck with that. Those types of employees are the ones who will drive the company right off a cliff because a blind owner told them to do so.

    I would have thought that owners would want employees who would make money for them. I know, it’s a crazy idea………

  6. @Chris:
    Or they are so used to be micromanaged that they won’t even think of taking independent action when it is necessary, such as when something urgent and important comes up, and Mr/Ms Micromanager is absent.

    I saw that happen once at a place where I worked, many years ago. I seem to recall that there were a few unhappy customers as a result, which is not usually regarded as a good outcome.

  7. The problem isn’t merely the attitude. The problem is that these employers buy into the “job board mechanism.” They lock themselves into that broken-down car that doesn’t go — then they pride themselves on “optimizing” the experience of sitting in one spot “reviewing who comes along.”

    Wnat to really recruit? Get off your duff, out from behind the pc screen, and go FIND the people you want in person. That’s what your best competitors are doing. That’s where the best hires are.

    I just can’t get over it. The first “cut” of applicants is those who make sure to include a nonsense sentence in their application.


  8. “Most important, business owners want employees who will do as they’re told.”

    Evil translation: “I want employees who never object, never complain, never suggest how to do anything better.”

    Well, I don’t want a stupid, narcissistic manager.