Homers and Purple Squirrels

Among corporate recruiters, Mr. Sullivan said, random applicants from Internet job sites are sometimes referred to as ‘Homers,’ after the lackadaisical, doughnut-eating Homer Simpson. The most desirable candidates, nicknamed ‘purple squirrels’ because they are so elusive, usually come recommended. ‘We call it Monster.ugly,’ said Mr. Sullivan, referring to Monster.com. ‘In the H.R. world, applicants from Monster or other job boards carry a stigma’

— “In Hiring, a Friend in Need Is a Prospect, Indeed,The New York Times, 27 January 2013

Darren and Diane, two HR professionals at SLOP Brands, Inc., share an IM conversation:

Darren: oh great, another resume from careerbuilder

Diane: you mean, careercriminal?

Darren: lol. check out this sucker from indeed.com

Diane: haha. more like, indebt.dropout 

Darren: jaja. more like, indeepwiththewrongpeople.gov

Diane: lala. here’s one from simplyhired.barf

Darren: leelee. more like simply.delete

Diane: llewelyn. more like simply.killyourself

Darren: lucifer. more like simplysuckstobe.you

Diane: going to the reunion thing next week? #goanteaters

Darren: ya you know it #openbar #networking #goanteaters

Diane: hot damn, looks like i got a pink shark on the line here.

Darren: whoa. vp finance? nice. any applicable skills/relevant experience?

Diane: not too bad. i’ll make it work.

Darren: did you watch undercover boss last nite?

Diane: omg

Darren: what?

Diane: looks like this pink shark just got upgraded to a three-dollar bill.

Darren: three-point connect??!

Diane: full triangulation. alma mater and everything.

Darren: three points the old fashioned way?! damn. nice work if you can not need it. i’d give my left buttnad for a full-blown three-dollar pink shark. too bad i’ll never find it with all this unemployed chum clouding the water. anyways, congrats.

Diane: thanks d. it’s all luck. you’ll nail a #ps someday. something will turn up.

Darren: something will turn up :)

Diane: :)

Darren: but wait for real did you see undercover boss?


Michael McGrath tweets as @marcomcgrath.



26 Comments / Post A Comment

emilies (#956)

as someone who is currently job hunting…this is very depressing.

@emilies Right? I just don’t even know now…

@totallyunoriginal All is not lost – I actually got the job I have now from Monster! They saw my resume and called me. I’m the only person I know that this has happened to, but it is possible. Hiring is weird.

sunflowernut (#1,638)

@franceschances Yeahhh this article makes me feel a little hopeless about ever finding a new job.

OhMarie (#299)

@emilies I like to see something on monster or whatever and then see if I can find it on the company’s actual website, and then apply there. Cutting out the middle man!

Not every place is like that — especially smaller places where the hiring managers are responsible for finding candidates, and HR just handles the administrative/benefits stuff. At my work we catalog every applicant that comes across our e-mail and look at each one. Personal recommendations do get special attention but are not necessarily a lock (in my department we much prefer to hire former interns).

I think the bigger problem with places like Monster is the people who send out thousands of generic resumes to everything they can find, which gives everyone on there a bad rap.

peanutbutterpie (#1,450)

This is a little discouraging, but: Every office job I have ever had (three)I got from job boards. I only have gotten an interview because of a (very enthusiastic) referral from a friend who worked at the company once, and I was not hired for that position. I know maybe two people off the top of my head who were hired based on referrals.

BornSecular (#2,245)

@peanutbutterpie My experience has been the exact opposite. EVERY job I’ve ever had, from my current full time one to a brief stint doing retail in college came from being recommended by another employee. I have never gotten a job on my own merits alone. There are so many applicants out there for every job, it’s practically impossible to get noticed otherwise, IMO.

@BornSecular Yeah, I think that’s more common, but it is heartened to hear that SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE has actually gotten a job through cold-applying over the Internet.

travelmugs (#162)

@stuffisthings I recently moved to a new city, where I have a small network, and was planning on exhausting them. I got a job through a random Idealist listing, where I knew nobody, before I even had time to do terrible coffee dates with professional friends of friends.

peanutbutterpie (#1,450)

@BornSecular Ha, well, I just found out my coworker who is leaving for a new job got that job through a friend in her alumni group! Timely!

@travelmugs I’m not actually sure how I got my job — I had a sort-of referral, from an ex-employee who was a friend of a friend — but I don’t think it mattered much. I actually applied for a different position but the person I interviewed with passed me on to a better one in another department. The job was on Idealist and stuff so I could have just as easily found it that way. I think more helpful than the referral was the inside info on what they were looking for and what their culture is like and stuff.

deepomega (#22)

@stuffisthings When I moved to LA, I cold-emailed about 70 companies. I heard back from 5. Three of the responses were “no,” one was an offer of unpaid work, and the last turned into a job offer. I think maybe part of the issue here is that cold calling is a statistics game, and the statistics are HARROWING.

sockhopbop (#764)

I’ve also gotten two positions I applied to off job boards! One was with a small (awesome) company, and one was with a much bigger one. (I got their attention by following up via a specific email address, though, not the generic HR one.)

Hilarious. I lol’d at both “three-point connect??!” and “i’d give my left buttnad”.

It’s really not that hard to make me laugh.

I was recommended for my first job, then got recruited by another place because of that job. My post-college jobs have all been cold-application type; however, because I’ve been in school for such a long time, I’ve not had a full time job. (It’s the saddest admission.) Now that I’m about to finally finish grad school, stories like this make me worried. I’m in ministry, though, so it’s a lot easier to have people know about you because we are such a small community.

@Adriana ‘Liz’ Castro@facebook I would love to read a blog post about what the ministry job market is like! I always assumed that whatever denomination you were affiliated with would just handle everything. I guess it would vary quite a lot from religion to religion?


Brunhilde (#78)

@stuffisthings I think you basically have to submit your application to god in prayer form.

Although it is possible to be placed within your existing parish, it doesn’t normally work out that way. I would explain further but I am on the train right now and posting from my mobile is the worst.

@Brunhilde HA! I saw this comment in my email and I thought it was it was just about this post in general, not this particular thread.

@stuffisthings So, okay, I am a lay Catholic person, which means that I am not affiliated with a religious order. I was not sent to seminary via a parish, so there was never any investment of my church (as a whole) but there are people in my home church who are awesome and very supportive. Religious men and women (like, sisters, brothers, priests, nuns) are sent to seminary by their order, church, or diocese for specific formation. Often, they are already placed within a parish, school, or other ministry. Their job decisions are made in conjunction with their superiors. (This is as far as I know, not being a woman religious myself.)
For lay students, it’s a bit different. Some of us come from professional backgrounds and so do seminary and theological formation as an added thing to what we already do. A few of my fellow classmates had been teachers in parochial schools already, but decided to further their education. Once done with their degrees, they returned to teaching. Other people do this as preparation to a second career. Some of us come to seminary not really knowing what to expect but feeling called to it anyhow.
Ministry work at parishes usually doesn’t pay super well, but it pays just enough. It really depends on what sort of area you live, what the socioeconomic situation of your parish is, and if you are working solely for ministry or also for the church as a staff person. Some people don’t even work at churches or schools – these people usually fall back on their previous skills and do something wonderful and completely different, like organizing, or working for non-profits.
This comment has now gotten too long, but I hope that answers some of your questions. (oh, I don’t know how it is for other denominations, but I have met a few UU ministers who are sponsored specifically by a church with the expectation that they are to return to their former position or something like it.)

@Adriana ‘Liz’ Castro@facebook Thanks!

Ok, I am a recruiter (agency) and there is definitely not a stigma about people who apply via a job posting from the boards, or whose resume we find on the boards. What I do wish is that people would only apply for jobs they are actually qualified for, but overall, I’ve had a lot of success placing people from the job boards. I work in technology though, so that might be part of it. I’d be happy to answer any job searching questions though.

chic noir (#713)

@Nucking Fux Nix
*screams in a fit of superexcitement*

So I see we have a Kresley Cole reader here.

lhorntx (#2,302)

@Nucking Fux Nix If you’ve submitted an application via a job board or the company’s job portal, is it frowned upon if you try to find the possible recruiter or manager who will likely oversee that position, and email them to ask about the status of the application and express you interest? Or is it just better to wait until a recruiter calls you? Lately I’ve heard that it’s better to try to talk to someone who’s directly involved with or somehow linked to the person in charge of the position.

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