Jim Hopkinson was looking for a marketing intern. Since he happens to work for the website of an intensely popular tech magazine, Wired, he decided to up the ante a little on his application requirements with a "bonus" question: what's his favorite baseball team?
This was in addition to a more traditional list of demands, including links to blogs/websites/videos that demonstrate web skills, a PDF-formatted resume, cover letter detailing why the applicant wants the job, and a specific subject line for the application email ("WIRED MARKETING INTERN").
In a piece for Salary.com, Hopkinson defends his decision and explains the logic behind it: he wants a "rock star" assistant, so he's asking the applicants to go above and beyond. Of course, with a generic "MarketingGuy@Wired.com" email address, "above and beyond" means trying to figure out the guy's name before stalking him thoroughly enough to guess his sports preferences.
Some applicants guessed incorrectly by consulting the magazine's masthead, playing eeny-meeny-miny mo with the three marketing people listed, and researching the only man among them. Hopkinson is not listed on the magazine's masthead. The applicant who did this (and guessed the St. Louis Cardinals) got an interview, but not the job.
In fact, though the question was marked "bonus," Hopkinson admits that no one who skipped the question (65% of the applicants, by his estimation) got an interview.
His takeaway advice: "For job seekers, know that every question that you are asked might have a deeper meaning. Follow directions closely, and think about why the interviewer asked what they did."
Hmm. Good advice, true. But for an internship? Having to detail why you want to work at the company should be sufficiently stringent, without the added research and telepathy required with a personal question about the recruiter.
Here's what Salary.com commenters had to say:
"Seems like he has too much time on his hand...why does he need an assistant?"
"All of that for an internship? I bet is was also unpaid. Kinda dickish."
"Sorry, but this article makes you seem like a megalomaniac."
"You should be ashamed of yourself! … Jobs are hard enough to find. You happen to have been blessed, for whatever reason, with a wonderful position. I hope what comes around goes around and you are put in that same position."
It's obvious that with high unemployment rates and plum opportunities few and far between, employers have the upper hand in the application process. But how many hoops is it fair to ask applicants to jump through, before even granting them second round application status, or an interview?
It's exhausting to send thoughtfully crafted resumes and cover letters out into the world (usually with no response); it seems extreme that Hopkinson would require so many tasks from an applicant just for an internship.
Though we're on the fence about this one, there's no time like the present to mention we fully believe respect, effort, and professionalism should be happening on both sides of the job search table.
With that in mind, we give you this hilarious, abeit shockingly arrogant, insensitive, and generally jerky email exchange between a job seeker (whose profile clearly notes his desire to work locally) and a recruiter (in another state, who doesn't bother reading his target's profile). Courtesy of Gawker, we give you "‘I’ll Make 250K This Year, While You’re Unemployed LOL’: Monster.com Recruiting Goes Horribly Wrong."
--Cathy Vandewater, Vault.com
Foul Ball: How One Interview Question Can Lose You the Job (Salary.com)
I’ll Make 250K This Year, While You’re Unemployed LOL’: Monster.com Recruiting Goes Horribly Wrong (Gakwer)
10 Tips to Beat Job Search Burn Out
Hiring Manager Explains Why Your Cover Letter Failed