Thursday, August 2, 2012

Man posts fake job on Craigslist, gets 600+ resumes

From NPR, a clever (if morally questionable) experiment by adjunct English professor Eric Auld:
After a fruitless job search — endlessly scanning Monster.com and Craigslist and tweaking resumes and cover letters — he grew more curious about his competitors. So he created a fake Craigslist ad for an administrative assistant position and, in one day, received 653 responses from applicants with a wide range of education and experience. He wrote about what he learned from the applicants for Thought Catalog. 
"I usually apply to two types of jobs, the first being teaching positions or publishing positions or any position I can use my master's in English for," Auld tells NPR's Neal Conan, "and those other jobs being those lower-end, entry-level kind of positions that everybody seems to be applying for nowadays."
Here's the ad he posted:
Administrative Assistant needed for busy Midtown office. Hours are Monday through Friday, nine to five. Job duties include: filing, copying, answering phones, sending e-mails, greeting clients, scheduling appointments. Previous experience in an office setting preferred, but will train the right candidate. This is a full-time position with health benefits. Please e-mail résumé if interested. Compensation: $12-$13 per hour. 
He got 653 responses. Of these, 37% had 3+ years of actual experience, 22% had 1-2 years of experience and 41% had either less than a year's experience or none. 39% had a bachelor's degree, 3% had a masters, 24% w/an associate's and 34% had a high school diploma/GED.

Mr. Auld's conclusions for his job search?
1.) Employers won’t notice me by my résumé alone. This one I kind of knew already, but I need to actually follow through with my lesson. Am I really going to stand out in a tidal wave of 626 applications? Probably not. What I should do is figure out methods to grab the employer’s attention, whether it’s finding out if anyone I know works with the organization, seeking out a personal recommendation, or calling to double-check that the employer received my résumé (even though we all know how daunting actual phone calls can be). I need to find additional ways to let the employer know that I am the right man for the job. Anything to make the employer say, “Ah, yes, Mr. Auld,” and not, “Oh, right, Applicant #24601.” 
2.) When job searching on Craigslist, apply to positions immediately. 49 percent of responses to this non-existent position were submitted in the first three hours alone — that’s 317 emails. I know that when I apply for jobs, I like to imagine my résumé near the top of the pile; this helps me sleep at night (in addition to scotch). Because of this experiment, I’ve decided to not bother submitting to Craigslist positions that are more than one day old. As for other sites, I’ll probably discard any postings that have been up for more than one week. “But Eric, why?” you ask. Because, gentle Reader: that’s just how I roll. 
3.) Expect the application review process to take a while. I repeat: 626 résumés in one day. That’s all I have to say about that.
I have, at times, considered doing a similar experiment. Between the deception required and the financial commitment ($600 for an ad on ACS Careers), I decided not to do it. But it's instructive to see the inflow when someone has. Fascinating.

16 comments:

  1. Remember those 4 Merck med-chem positions posted about a month back? I heard through the grapevine that they got such a tidal wave of applicants that they considered it a buyers' market, and reduced starting salaries.

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  2. I recently did an informational interview with the HR director of a local small biotech. He told me job postings were free to place on indeed and linkedin and the company was only charged when people actually applied. He also told me not to bother with criagslist, monster, or many of those others. I've also noticed that companies will post job listings on their own websites 2-4 weeks earlier than posting them to linkedin, indeed or elsewhere.

    And Merck is no longer listing salaries for most of their positions. I applied for a few this month. The only place consistently listing salaries is USAJobs. And I've noticed they're far higher than most of the few biotech or academic positions that list a salary.

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    1. Merck has historically been on the high side of salaries (90% percentile or some odd target - trying to get the best of the best). In light of the ongoing trend to reduce R&D spending, this trend seems to be rapidly going away.

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  3. Business admin is a low-skilled job, virtually anyone can do it without formal training or experience, so I am not surprise the guy got 600+ response. It would be alot more interesting to see how many responses a Chemist/Engineer job posting will bring in.

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    1. The more interesting thing would be the spread of applicants.

      The experiment would be to put out a job posting for an MS level synthetic chemist here in the states.

      How many total applicants do you predict it would get?
      -How many of these would have a PhD?
      -How many would have no synthetic experience?
      -How many wouldn't even have a degree focusing on organic chemistry?
      -How many applicants would be outside the US?

      If you ever troll around LinkedIn, every so often someone will throw up a job like this on a group. I'm always shocked at the number of people who publicly reply to these, and to how many don't even come close to the requirements for the job. Every job opening has to be totally flooded with resumes, 3/4 of which probably don't have the appropriate requirements for the position.

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    2. Ahhh, yes. One of my favorite questions: what is the true rejection rate of job positions, and/or colleges? What is the "immediate toss" rate of different positions? For a relatively low-skill position, I would expect it to be high. For a synthetic position, I'd expect it to be low, but I dunno.

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  4. To be fair, unemployment in NYC is 10% (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/19/citys-unemployment-rate-reaches-10-percent/), and that's 10% of a pretty big #.

    Still, 600+ applications for a position paying $12-$13 per hour in midtown seems big. And depressing.

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    1. You have to take into account what the Department of Labor Security policies are. Often times people apply knowing full well they have no chance of getting the job just to keep their benefits eligibility.

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  5. Used to work for a small biotech (<20 people) in LA area. We hired nearly all of our bachelors level folks through craigslist. For a chemistry position we normally got 200+ resumes, of which we quickly whittled it down to 20 and had 3-4 in for an interview.

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  6. I'd definitively be curious about results if you ever get over your scruples about deception and the monetary barriers.

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    1. It's much more the deception that bothers me; it's not nice to lie to a job-seeker, especially a fellow chemist.

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  7. Re the USAJobs.gov salaries -

    Those are broad salary ranges that simply reflect the promotion grades (called GS grades) that people can be hired in on. For a person who hasn't had a Federal position before, they will likely come in at a lower GS grade and so on the lower end of the salary curve. Also, I believe it is Federal law that both the promotion grade and the salary range has to be posted with the job announcement.

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    1. gov. jobs are bs. Usually they already have a candidate in mind for the position, job posting is just formality and they will eliminate you even if you passed the tests and interviews.

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  8. I actually just hired an administrative assistant. Only had 20 applicants and of that maybe 4 were qualified. Have to hire 3 more in the near future. I'm hoping the applicant pool is better in the future. To be fair, I am pretty far away from NYC.

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    1. yeah..you can increase your applicant pool by complaining to the government that there is a Adm. assistant shortage in this country, Obama can definitely help you out with that.

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