Crazy idea from a recruiter

Levi Pearson levipearson at
Tue Mar 26 21:25:07 MDT 2013

On Mar 26, 2013, at 5:22 PM, Sasha Pachev <sasha at> wrote:

> Regarding trying to pick a potential world-class marathoner from a 100
> meter sprint test. The idea is actually not as ridiculous as it
> sounds. Most world-class marathoners will perform quite a bit better
> than the average Joe in this test. Thus we expect at least 12.7 for
> the guy to have a shot at making it. But we deal with some limitations
> of the method. 12.7 is possible with bad biomechanics compensated by
> raw fast-twitch power. A guy with a bad heart or some glycogen storage
> problem might be able to make the cut, but when you start training him
> for distance you realize that he has problems. He may not mentally
> have what it takes to put in the training day after day even if his
> physiology is there.
> When we look at a resume of a backend coder we need to realize that we
> are trying to figure out how good of a marathon runner he might be by
> having him run 100 meters. Resume writing is a different event.
> Granted, somebody who can write good code would normally be able to
> express himself somewhat coherently, but this is not where you want to
> expect perfection. And too much perfection in resume writing may
> indicate that his talent is somewhere else.

That's just the thing, though. Your analogy falls apart when in one situation you are judging one class of runners by a skill test that applies exactly to another class of runners; then you compare that to judging back-end coders by resumes, as if there were some class of employee who did resume-writing as a primary job function. Skill in resume writing won't really tell you anything about the primary job skills of any profession, except perhaps if a graphic designer does a particularly good job with her typography and layout or something. Yet resumes are used for nearly all hiring!

They aren't supposed to tell you how good a person is. They are supposed to give a general sense of education and previous employment experience, as a preliminary filter. They also give an opportunity to show that you care about how you present and express yourself. I fail to see how a well-presented resume could imply less skill in any job; someone of any resume-writing skill level could put together a well-presented resume by recognizing their weaknesses and enlisting the help of a proofreader or something.

Of course a résumé is just a first step, and conversations/skill checks are far better at discovering how well someone would fit in a job. Looking past résumé weaknesses might even be appropriate sometimes when seeking out employees. But saying that a well-presented résumé reflects poorly on the author makes no sense!


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