DESPERATELY WANTED! Job Applicants Who Aren’t Stupid

I’m looking to hire an additional recruiter for my team – business is brisk, we are growing, blah, blah, blah.

We’ve been in business 31 years, profitable all 31 years. Part of that profitability is we don’t overpay for talent.

That is a good way of saying we’ve been very good at hiring entry-level college kids and turning them into very good recruiters. Basically, I have some upfront investment into teaching them the trade, and that investment pays off in the long run.

I hear that there are millions of people out of work. What I don’t see are people who actually want to work to get paid. I wrote a job description, qualifications, etc. and put it up on one of the Big Job Boards to see what I would get.

Here’s the job description:


Technical Recruiter:

What the heck is a Technical Recruiter? We find great talent for our client companies. You need to be part private investigator, part blood hound and part jealous girlfriend – basically you will be using the training we give you to out out and find Rock Stars – the best of the best – in the fields of engineering and Information Technology.

You spend a lot of time on the phone and on the Internet tracking down and networking to find these types of folks. Then once you find them – you put them through the 3rd Degree on why they might be good enough to get passed onto to our client. It’s a fast pace environment and every day you never know what you’re going to run into.

Why this might be for you?

    1. You’re smart (i.e., you have a Bachelor’s Degree – no, a real bachelor’s degree, not one out of the back of an airline magazine)
    2. You’re are self motivated (Look, we don’t want to babysit you, we’re busy – you need to be able to push yourself)
    3. You can take rejection (Recruiting isn’t easy – you spend all day tracking down the perfect candidate and they tell you to take a hike – that’s life – time to put on the big boy/big girl pants)
    4. You’re a networker (this means you have probably have more than 1000 Facebook/Instagram/Twitter Friends combined – and most actually know who you are and haven’t blocked you)


Ok, Let’s recap – here’s what you need to work here:

    1. Smarts – Bachelor’s Degree
    2. Motivation – I want to be successful, and willing to do more than show up and wait for someone to give me a trophy
    3. Business sense – we negotiate and sell all day – that’s the real world. We sell people on why they should want to go to work for a company, and we sell the company on why they need the person we have. It’s fun!
    4. Guts. Yeah, that’s right – you are going to have to pick up the phone and talk to real people that you don’t know – pretty scary, right? – you mean I just can’t text them? No.

This a Big Girl job – business cards, you’re own phone extension, 1 hour lunch breaks. Welcome to the show. We expect that you’ll actually work

Article Continues Below

If you send me your resume and you don’t have all the stuff above – we might ridicule you publicly on our blog. The End.


Seems pretty straightforward right? You need to be outgoing and have a BACHELOR’s Degree – and probably a sense of humor. If you don’t have that, don’t send me a resume.

Guess what I got from my ad?

  • Some 19 responses with resume.
  • Of the 19 – 6 had a bachelors degree (No, having 82 credits towards a bachelor’s degree does not constitute you having a bachelor’s degree).
  • Six (6) were female, 13 were male – 4 out of 6 females met the requirement, which tells me females are less stupid than males.
  • One female was currently a licensed attorney with her JD, which tells me all I need to know about that profession right now.

We don’t have a jobs problem in this country; we have a candidate problem. People are mostly stupid. Employers don’t want to hire stupid people.

So, I’ll ask you – my overly smart and snarky readers – was I clear enough on my “Job Descriptions and Qualifications” on what I was looking for?

This originally appeared on the blog The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


38 Comments on “DESPERATELY WANTED! Job Applicants Who Aren’t Stupid

  1. “4 out of 6 females met the requirement, which tells me females are less stupid than males.”

    The sample size is too small for coming to this conclusion. Having said that I understand your frustration. I too face the same challenges everyday.

  2. You know, you may want to consider spending more time proofreading your job postings, and less time blowing out snarky and condescending blog posts. I guess I could overlook the various grammatical errors in the post if I was hunting for a job, but the misused “you’re” instead of “your”  in the second-to-last paragraph would indicate to me that the employer doesn’t really have their act together, and I would decline to apply for the job.

    1. I think the design of the job description and your response just accomplished exactly what he is looking for. You just self-selected out, saving him time to dive deeper with candidates more likely to be a culture fit and recoupe that training investment over the long haul.

      See the lion hiding in the grass…

    2.  CT –

      Sorry, I’m not an English major – never tried to play myself off to be one – and I’m also not the editor of TLNT – who usually catches my grammatical mistakes.  I’m an HR Pro who thinks HR Pros/Hiring Mgrs who select out great talent for simple grammatical errors as short-sighted and missing the bigger picture. But that’s just me.


      1. As the editor of TLNT, know that I saw this error and left it as is. The reason? I felt it was important to reproduce the ad as it originally ran “as is” with warts and all. I wanted readers here to see it as job seekers originally saw it …

      2. You don’t need to be an English major to use 10th grade level spelling and grammar skills. Considering you place such high importance on a degree you might consider acting as if having one made some kind of difference. Meanwhile there are people out there with a GED who have more sense than you. You start off your post by pointing out that your company isn’t willing to pay well for highly qualified candidates and finish your post by complaining that you aren’t getting any highly qualified candidates and yet somehow you don’t see the connection. I guess they didn’t have any courses in economics in whatever college you got your all important degree from. What’s really amusing is by pairing a bachelors degree requirement with your desire to pay bottom dollar, you are cutting your own legs out from under yourself. Did it occur to you that the people you are targeting have student loans that need paying off? That perhaps they don’t want to work for peanuts and for an employer who fails at the job she is trying to hire for? You are a recruiter and you can’t even recruit for your own company? I feel sorry for your clients. Perhaps you need to walk yourself down to a library and figure out what you missed while wasting money on your degree. One final thought, you might want to consider a little concept called gender discrimination. Disqualifying more than half of your applicants based on their reproductive bits says volumes about you, but there is also a legal problem there as well. Something to consider. Best of luck.

  3. The bolded stuff is pretty straightforward, but the added comments are flat out condescending to Generation Y. It seems like you expect them to fail. If I’m a highly desirable candidate, I can probably find similar postings that don’t come off like a shark feeding. Why would I pick yours?

    There is talent to be had, you just need to make the position – and work culture – appealing to them.

  4. I love the ad, and it would definitely make me want to work for you, Tim!

    The candidates aren’t being unreasonable, though.  There are certainly employers out there that don’t actually disqualify candidates based on the contents of the job description.  If I’m an applicant, and the job looks this good, there’s no downside for me to apply (except for the slight risk of public shaming, in this case).  Maybe you’ll eliminate me based on having no degree, but maybe I’ll get lucky and that was the part you didn’t really mean! 

  5. You needed to include a salary range. Also “Big Girl” job is insulting to women, who knows what the men thought about it.

  6. My question is, “How is that ad working for you?”

    I have also experienced challenges with hiring smart, hard workers. It is not just a Gen (insert letter) issue though. It cuts across age groups and wage classes. The “dumbing down” of America is not only sad but threatens our ability to compete in the world market.

    On the other hand, I have seen some pretty amazing people. I encounter workers daily who want to make a difference and work hard. My wife oversees a supply chain internship for a Fortune 100 company and I am always impressed with her students.

    The trick is how do we attract more of the latter and less of the former. Your ad comes across funny to me*** and may reflect the brand you want to develop as hip, cool place to work. However, it does not seem to attract the people you want.

    Bottom line is the ad did not achieve the results you wanted. There are great fish out there so you may want to switch lures.

    ***I do have some compliance concerns:

    1. How is a degree a BFOQ requirement for this position?

    This is worthy of a discussion in light of EEOC rules on disparate impact. Besides, if you have a way of turning straw into recruiting gold then you why not look at people who have the chutzpah to apply despite lacking a degree. After all, that shows they have guts (#4) and don’t fear rejection (#3)!
    2. Is it a facially discriminatory?

    No. The multiple references to girls compared to one reference to boys seems lopsided. From a compliance standpoint it may be better to balance those out more.

  7. Love the comments! 

    Hindsight being 20/20 I would probably equal out the male/female tone – the funny part is if I would have said “big boy pants”  I’m pretty sure I would have not gotten one comment on that reference – but by saying “big girl pants” people (mostly females) have lost their minds!  Put Recruiter and Technical in a job title and most of the resumes coming in for the job will be males, I put more females references because I wanted females to know I’m looking for them – it wasn’t meant to have the opposite effect and I can say from the results it hasn’t.  I’ve gotten more resumes from females for this position then any ad I’ve ever had for a Technical Recruiter.  I’ve gotten great response overall – still to many folks who I would say don’t meet the minimum qualifications to do this job. 

    I’ve gotten beat up over the “bachelors” requirement – when in reality dealing with the clients we deal with who mostly have Masters and Phd’s in engineering, MBA’s, etc. There is a level of education this job needs.  Can you be a great recuiter without it?  Yes. When looking to hire an entry level candidate to teach to be a new recruiter I need a couple things that a bachelor’s degree has proven to me: 1. Sticktoittiveness – can they start and finish something and get it over the finish line; 2. their ability to learn new concepts – technical recruiting is like learning a foreign language as an adult.   We all have millions of people we could hire, eventually you need to add a filter or two to get through the millions – a bachelors degree is just one filter I’ve added.


    1. Tim, 

      I loved this unique job posting.  I think it is incredibly descriptive of the position.  It painted a vivid picture of what to expect and what is expected.  I’m quite surprised you didn’t get more applicants.  

      I totally agree with your bachelors requirement.  If someone can commit to a 4 year plan and see it through–that shows commitment.  Digesting and applying new concepts is a necessary ability.  I was quite proud of the “solid” C that I got in calculus.  It was a class I didn’t think would be required with a business degree, but was glad it was as I proved to myself I could take “alien” concepts and actually apply them.  Was there a particular major of GPA requirement?  

      Lastly, I appreciated the humor.  Although “big girl panties” would have been funnier, it would have set the comments on fire and this page would have been a mile long.  It would have been a bottomless scroll.  lol 


  8. Tim, Tim, Tim…

    Big Girl comment is insulting. And I’m betting that the people who applied for your job posting are not stupid.

    One issue for potential applicants is that employers are not consistent as to whether they will hold tight to their job requirements/job description ‘no matter what’ or whether they will be flexible and consider the entire presenting package to find the best candidate who will be right for the job.

    I personally know a technical recruiter that has had a very successful career helping to staff startups in Silicon Valley. She would be dismissed by you because she doesn’t have a degree, however she would likely outperform anyone you would hire that does have a degree because she has experience…lots of it. She, perhaps like others, entered the workforce when it wasn’t a necessary requirement of employers to have a degree.

    Just seems a pity…I’m sure that there are many people looking for work who could meet the needs of employers if they are willing to open-minded.

    BTW – there are professionals out there who encourage job seekers to apply for any and all jobs that even come close to their qualifications. I do believe some applicants stretch this a bit far, but not everyone.

  9. Tim…I think the job posting is great. To be honest with you, I’d be much more interested in applying for (and working for) an organization that pushes the envelope a bit and mixes in some humor. Based on the comments and reactions you’ve received already, I think some folks are over-thinking things a bit. It beats the canned, job descriptions that come from a corporate template that seem to say a whole lot without really saying anything.

    As for the degree you’re requiring, you’re the employer and it’s your prerogative. Sure you’d get more candidates if you opened it up, but to your point…at some point you need a filter.

  10. I found this job posting to be simplistic, offensive, condescending, arrogant, rude, (etc.) and more demonstrative of the type of person this is than the type of candidate I am. I would not apply to this job, and this company would be missing out. 

  11. Sometimes I think well intentioned hiring managers miss out on great applicants because they have such tunnel vision.  I am 29, and I have a master’s degree, and I am often overlooked because I am not straight out of college anymore, and I also lack industry specific experience.  It is incredbly frustrating.  I am overqualified, and underqualified, and starting to feel the sting of ageism that will only increase with time unless I find something SOON.  I am capable of more than a receptionist, and although I apply to recruiting jobs I have yet to have any luck.  I do not have sales experience, which I hear can lend itself to recruiting.  Any advise? What is it that a resume that includes a master’s degree in communication, a bachelor’s in human resources, 2.5 yrs college instructing experience, and recent legal assisting experience say to a potential employer, especially for a recruiting position?

  12. The “big girl job” says this is pink collar work meant for women, likely to be off-putting to men. The repetition of “big girl/boy” says this is entry level, discouraging experienced workers. While you did specify what the requirements are, many companies “require” the moon and smart job applicants who don’t have it apply anyway.  The snark, the childish theme of the ad, and the repeated theme of men vs women (what does that have to do with anything?) say this isn’t a good place to work. You get what you deserve.

  13. While I’ll applaud the creativity and “realistic recruitment” focus of this posting, I’ll echo some of the criticisms that others have levied.  The grammatical error is surprisingly defended by the author but I’m wondering if he is that “forgiving” of grammatical errors from applicants — many HR professionals put a resume with that error in “Pile C” immediately.  I’m equally concerned as others have noted with the somewhat demeaning, clearly sexist tone of the “big girl pants” phrase.  But my biggest concern is with the “college degree” requirement — and apparently others made a big deal of this too.  “Having” a college degree does not provide evidence that a person is “smart.”  Perhaps the people who applied without one are smarter than the author is given them credit for.  There are some good things in this posting, but solid hiring practices would prove that hiring someone who can demonstrate their ability to “do” the job is much more important that showing they can “get” the job by “having” certain characteristics like a degree.

  14. This is excellent commentary and I think that we can derive that HR has a battle of personalities right now. You have traditional, old guard who is obviously all about compliance/risk aversion/status quo and then you have the gunslingers trying to disrupt. I wish we could see age, current role and organization to dive deeper.

    On the surface it feels like generational tension, but I think it’s more philosophical tension. Agree / disagree? This is a great conversation going on here.

  15. When companies post, they expect a lot more than they are willing to pay for, just like any other negotiation setting. I think it’s okay to apply even when some bright line bullet point says your not qualified.

  16. As a recruiter myself, and possibly one who is open to new opportunities, here is my feedback:

    1) Condescending, do as I say not as I do attitude. You can say that you have an editor for your posts all you want, but the idea that you are so hung up on getting someone who is “smart” while having so many errors in your posting is insulting. Most smart people don’t want to work for someone they perceive as less intelligent than themselves, and if they do, they won’t do it for long. Additionally, you take an immediate defensive approach against people applying. 

    2) Crazy enough, I kind of enjoyed the in-your-face attitude of the post. I also enjoyed the “big-girl” pants jab and the “Welcome to the Show” comment (as a baseball fan, of course I enjoyed it). When I first read this, I actually thought some of the errors were on purpose to catch smart people. A kind of “prove your moxie by telling my where I screwed up when you apply” test. Not sure this was intentional, but know at least one person read it that way.

    3) Very neat and clean, i.e. easy to read. No one likes a job description that gives a history lesson. I want to be able to tell what I am going to have to do and what is required of me to be qualified within 3 minutes.

    Sadly, the results you got were pretty par for the course and I 100% agree that we have a candidate problem right now, or a delusional company problem. 

  17. You know, looking at your posting I see one glaring thing missing from it: What’s in it for me?

    Might seem selfish, but then again, you’re not staffing a non-profit, so you shouldn’t expect to get altruistic applicants. I see a lot in your article about who I need to be to rate this job, but nothing about what I am going to gain from it. A job posting like this is only going to draw people who want, well, a job, any old job so long as it pays and I can start paying back my
    college loans. Not exactly the top caliber you seem to be looking for.

    Tell me why should I pay any more attention to ~your~ job posting than say, any one of dozens that are looking to hire smart, motivated young people willing to work long hours for peanuts. Will training be provided? How comprehensive will it be? Will I be paid during my training period? How much of the job is commission based? How much time do I have to get up to speed before I’m expected to start turning in results? Is there anything special you have to offer by way of pay or benefits?

    The fact is, you are looking for SMART people. And not just any smart people, but HIGHLY MOTIVATED smart people. A person fitting that category, particularly straight out of college, isn’t just looking for a job, they’re looking for a career. They are going to have a plan, and a goal, for the next several years of their life, or at least some vision of their future they are trying to achieve. Tell me how ~your~ job is going to help me achieve that vision. Tell me why I should care.

    Don’t just demand, sell. Don’t just post a bullet list of must haves – show me why you are worth MY time. That is, after all, what you are trying to buy from me.

  18. I can’t even believe that a hiring manager would necessarily need to have a degree to fulfill a requirement. Through years of real world, proven experience, in many cases, that supersedes a degree. For instance, I might need some kid or old-timer that has demonstrated experience writing C, C++, C# or any variety of computer languages. Should I not even look at that resume; turn down that person because S/He lacked the first requirement? I would argue the Hiring Manager or you as a recruiter, would severely limit the pool of talent available to your client.

    Your thesis suggests your client has a specific request. without that prerequisite, all others are off the table. As a recruiter, it is your job to not only understand the market, but to educate your client. So, since the applicant didn’t get the degree, HR automatically passes on the candidate, without reading the salients points listed on a traditional resume. Shame on them. But who actually reads a resume anymore? 

    Desperately Wanted, you are a broker. Your job is to play both ends against the middle well enough to keep your hiring managers and your potential candidates happy through good negotiating skills; good times and bad times.

    Far be it from me to to tell you how to get ahead on what you do, however your article simply represents the “meat ball: list every recruiter & HR puts out there. A list of everything including the kitchen sink. And, you have not a clue on what the market might bear. You are no broker. Your article rather suggests that clearly.

    Try loosing your condescending attitude; write an article based on REAL marketing research, which means you also need a little math, along with your spelling. Might also try putting yourself in the unemployed, with a great skill-sets shoes. 

    I can’t even believe I took the time to comment. Although, if it gives you pause to reconsider, call it “peer review”. Maybe, it was worth a few moments!

    Steve Mitchell
    BA, and many Post Graduate and continuing education hours, 35 years of experience.

    1. Entry level work in my industry requires experience you only get from being in the industry to begin with…At college, 70% of the people there were born in the industry and had 5 years of experience to start school. School does not offer much in the way of work. Its mostly a system to validate owners children.

    1. donald trump is….

      If you aren’t rich, you are very smart to get a degree. The probability of getting through college from poverty is about half your odds of being significantly smarter than average. This means only half of smart people in poverty even get through college. This should indicate to you that college is more about having money than brains….and that brains are strongly influenced by money….if you are smart in poverty, lack of money will reduce your level of intelligence.

  19. I can understand you wanting to employ clever people and I’m sure you’re a very successful individual. However you don’t fully understand the unemployment industry outside of the niche market for which you cater as you have been lucky enough to be employed for the last 31 years. I also would like to say while I’m not stupid enough to go for a job which I’m not qualified for , I do believe people should be challenged and you don’t need a degree to do any of things that you do. I also think you are a bit rude and arrogant to suggest that people are stupid when your narrow mindedness and blinkered view of the world might suggest that it is in fact you who is stupid and just lucky.

    1. We pay hardly literate high school grads more than Phd’s.

      Just compare an average teacher to a good trucker. Trucker is hardly worth anything. They just deliver commodities. Teachers are a foundation for society.

  20. Tim, I do understand where you coming from. You think Candidate are stupid think about some of the recruiters out there if it is corporate or private holly molly. My husband got interviewed by a corporate recruiter of a big oil firm out in Alberta recruiting for a senior engineer at the end of the highway in Alberta.

    Any way, one of the questions she asked me is how you deal with stress, now my husband being an engineer for the last 25 plus years responded that there is no stress there are issues that need to be resolved. She hammered him on this question few times and then they made a division he is not fit to work on that project.

    In order to underhand where she is coming from he asked her if he could know what he could have done better to get the job, her response was well the girl who is handling the plant manager position is going through a lot of stress and she does not believe that there is no stress.

    Now you tell me how stupid is this to base your decision on, here is a guy who worked in an engineering for 25 plus years, have been a field engineering manager for the last 15 plus years because he said there are solutions no stresses for him he does not qualify like really.

    1. If you make more than subsistence and are actually good at what you do, eventually you become competition for them because they need you to work for them. The objective of owners is to profit off you, not to enable to you to become another owner who will not be available for them to exploit. They don’t want to work. They want you to work for them.

  21. Where is your Bachelor’s Degree?

    “business cards, you’re own phone extension”

    You are own phone extension?

  22. Where is your Bachelor’s Degree?

    “business cards, you’re own phone extension”

    You are own phone extension?

  23. I will be the owner and profit off your work if you think this model is so great.

    Yep. You work, I get paid because I have my name on a piece of paper.

  24. There’s a few things that jumped out:
    -Mistake in the second to last paragraph (“‘you’re’own phone extension” ; should be “your”)
    -Long-winded and repetitive
    -No explicit mention of being female required for the job, and the sole (obvious) implicit mention is near the end of the description- “This is a Big Girl job”
    -Comes across as condescending
    -Hard to take seriously

    I’m not surprised you only got 19 applications; only surprised that you got that many

    However, maybe it worked for you and got the type of applicant you wanted in the end; did you?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *