The horrific face of your automated screening process. Image: Shutterstock

Sunday 19th July 2015

Monster mistake

Would your application process filter out fictional characters?

It was a decent day to be Frank Stein. Although a graduate of an Ivy League university with good experience and credentials, he had been out of work for a year. Six months of that sabbatical to cycle around the US, six months spent rejecting companies for being a poor fit.

He applied for jobs at every single one of the Top 100 Best Places to Work — a pretty sound strategy if we ever heard one — and he received six requests for an interview. Not the world’s greatest hit rate, but it could be a whole lot worse.

Really, the only dampener on the whole experience was that Mr. Frank N. Stein wasn’t real. He, and his resume, were the fictitious creation of Mark Mehler, who runs

Every year their site sends out a fake resume to the Top 100 companies and measures their responses. Of the 100, 6 wanted to meet him, 2 noticed the ruse and 28 notified him that the position had been filled. The rest said nothing at all.

That his name was Frank N. Stein, his mentor Boris Karloff (the original Frankenstein actor), that he worked in a haunted house and ran a laboratory during Halloween, among several other spooky CV tidbits — if these weren’t enough clues, the end of his CV deadpanned clearly that the resume was a fake.

Three paras and you’re out

Although this took place in the US, the hiring practices across the pond aren’t significantly different and mystery job seekers like this can tell us a lot about how some recruiting is handled, and that is: pretty poorly.

Mark Mehler stated: “Recruiters read the first three paragraphs of a resume. That’s all the job seeker is going to get.”

While 28 courtesy follow ups sounds poor compared to the 64 who did not reply, that was actually the highest ever amount in over 10 years of this exact test — despite that being, as we reported recently, one of the key things desired by job seekers and vital to their perception of a company.

It seems incredible to land not one but six interviews, but it shows that nowadays what matters most in hitting a number of target keywords and leading your CV with a strong opener. Everything else is irrelevant.

If there’s one lesson to be learned here for hiring, it’s if you’re going to extend an offer of an interview, you should probably make the effort to read the whole CV, or you may end up with more than a few living-dead quality candidates yourself.

About the author

Jerome Langford

Jerome is a graduate in Philosophy from St Andrews, who alternately spends time writing about HR and staring wistfully out of windows, thinking about life’s bigger questions: Why are we here? How much lunch is too much lunch? What do you mean exactly by ‘final warning’?