August 7, 2013

Fake resume for ‘Noah Z. Ark’ draws interview offers but is mostly ignored

A company that annually sends out a fake resume to measure employers’ responses to online applicants found little interest in its well-qualified — but fabricated — accountant. What was more concerning was that the fake job hunter drew two interview offers.

Meet Noah Z. Ark, a super-qualified accountant — especially if you want someone with international and seafaring experience.

When Gerry Crispin and Mark Mehler founded a consulting company to help employers improve their employee recruiting processes, they decided to first find out what employers were doing wrong.

So, for 10 years, their CareerXroads company has engaged volunteers to help a fictional job hunter apply online for jobs, posting resumes directly on the websites of “best places to work” companies.

This year, “Noah Ark” was the job hunter, presenting a resume that had great experience and buzzwords at the top but wound down into absurdity the longer one read it.

Sadly, only a tiny fraction of the companies each year have recognized the obvious job hunter ruse, which would have been apparent had their resume screeners — computerized or human — read the entire resume.

This year, five of 100 companies actually followed up with phone calls or emails asking for more information about Noah Ark. Two, unfortunately, offered interviews.

“This reflects poorly on hiring practices,” Mehler said in mild understatement.

Faux resume or not, only three-fourths of the companies even acknowledged receipt of the application in any way. Only one-fourth eventually said they definitely rejected Ark as a candidate.

CareerXroads — and applicants — would like to see better acknowledgment and closure rates from employers. They also use the data gathered from each year’s experiment to help companies learn how easy job hunters perceive their website navigation to be.

Mehler and Crispin believe companies will make superior hires if they understand and correct drawbacks in their hiring systems.

Meanwhile, the founders celebrate employers who look at resume submissions thoroughly enough to catch the carefully explained “mystery job seeker” experiment.

Mehler said they’re giving brownie points this year to Karyn B. Maynard, recruiting director for the Container Store, who responded in a rejection letter addressed to Noah:

“We are, however, looking for someone with great leadership skills who has an expertise working with pairs — particularly if they go in two-by-two. If you have spoken to the Almighty and think a flood is coming, please let us know and we’ll talk further.”

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