Monday, July 13, 2009

Is any impression a good impression?

I've been debating writing about an incident that happened last week. I worry about writing something negative about someone who could potentially read what I wrote about them. In this case, I'll just have to hope that either the guy doesn't find my blog or that if he does, he finds some constructive criticism that can help him out. His honesty is refreshing but also a dealbreaker.

Like anyone, I try to hire good people. It's hard to do, though. Some hires don't turn out as well as their resume and interview indicated. Other times, I'm sure I've passed on people who would have been amazing employees because of a typo in their resume.

SOCIALisBETTER @ flickrIn this case, I pretty sure I'm doing the right thing by not hiring the guy I talked to last week, in spite of how memorable he was. I really don't see many resumes that are very memorable, like resumes on t-shirts or CDs or with an ice cream coupon attached. There is one guy I remember, because he gave me his resume in a manila folder with his name on the tab. There was nothing special about him or his resume, but I use that folder to hold all the other resumes I get.

So the guy that came in last week (I'll call him Charles), came into my office unannounced when I didn't have any jobs posted and greeted me in Spanish. I returned the greeting, since I speak Spanish. He made a little joke in Spanish and introduced himself. He sounded very fluent, although I could tell it wasn't his native language. He then proceeded to tell me in Spanish that he wanted to switch the conversation to English, and I obliged. I mean, he was the one who started in another language, not me.

Charles then began to tell me about himself. He told me that he was working in another office on campus but that they didn't have money to pay him. He had supposedly created some new invention but couldn't afford to have it patented. So he's looking for a new job to get him through his last year of school. I asked if he wanted to work doing teaching and customer service in our testing center or if he wanted to work as a programmer. He said he'd like to be a programmer but that he didn't know Java, which is what we use in our office.

I told Charles that we had plenty of programmers at the moment but that we might be hiring in the testing center. I asked if he had passed the CIL tests. He hadn't. He claimed he didn't need to, since he had done his general education at another school but that he had taken a few of the tests anyway. He told me that he noticed a bunch of mistakes in our tests, and I wasn't surprised in the least when I checked after he left and found that he'd failed the tests he had taken. It always seems that it's the students who complain the most about how bad the tests are that most often fail them.

Charles proceeded to tell me how he could work in the lab but that it wasn't really something he wanted to do. He was willing to do something that wasn't related to his career goals, just to pay the bills until he's done with school. He's just not motivated to do anything for his other job since they can't pay him, so he just sits in his office and doesn't do anything. Oh, well this is getting better and better. I'm not sure, however, if it's worse than the time one of my former employees told me she was torn between an internship that was directly related to her major and continuing to work for me. It would be good experience at the other job, but she really liked that she didn't have to do anything at her current job. I strongly encouraged her to take the other job.

I decided that I'd probably heard enough, so I asked Charles to email me a copy of his resume and gave him some "we're done here" body language. He continued to lay there, flopped back on the little couch in my office, except to lean forward momentarily and hand me a copy of his resume that he had brought with him. Well, actually, he gave me two copies. One was in Russian and the other in English. I think he was trying to flaunt his language skills, in that he could make a Russian resume, in addition to knowing some Spanish greetings. The two resumes didn't look at all alike but I was worried more about getting Charles out of my office than I was about critiquing his resumes.

I started leaning back and turning to look at my computer like I had something else to do and told him that I'd look over his paperwork and email him if we had something open up. He continued to lean back on the couch and tell me again how he needed something to pay the bills. He then started talking about how he had all these ideas and that he was going to hire all these Indian programmers to implement his ideas and start a bunch of businesses. This went on a little until he finally started to lean forward a little and I quickly stood up and offered him a handshake and a "good to meet you; thanks for stopping by".

After he left, I called a former employee of mine who knows Russian and asked him to stop by for a second on his way home. My OCD about the two resumes looking completely different was on the mark, and we were able to deduce that his Russian resume hadn't been updated for two years. Sure, I don't know what it says, but I know that you gave me a two year old resume. It's not looking good.

I looked over Charles' English resume a little and was aghast at what I saw. He had mismatched fonts, underlined hyperlinks (as if I could click on the piece of paper he gave me), a particular item that he listed under both work experience and volunteer service, and it went three lines onto the second page. As I looked it over, thinking how I would have adjusted the spacing slightly to get everything to fit on one page, it all came together. The most recent job was the part in the different font, so I could tell that it probably used to fit on one page. When he inserted a few lines for his current employment (that didn't pay him anything), that knocked things down a little onto the second page. That all doesn't bode well for someone who, if hired, would be teaching people how to use Microsoft Word.

Charles, if you're reading this, you'll probably make a great cell phone salesman, but don't be surprised when I don't hire you.