July 23, 2018

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Giving Thanks for the Turkeys and Hams of the Staffing and Recruiting Industry

It’s here again...the time of year when we navigate crowded shops and busy streets in search of perfect holiday gifts. At home we are busy preparing for large family gatherings and school plays and concerts. And at work? Clients increase their requests for temporary employees who will hand-address holiday cards, provide extra seasonal customer service help, and fill in for all of the vacationing permanent staff members. Meanwhile, we desperately comb our availability lists for temporary employees who do not have vacation plans of their own! On the direct-hire side of the business, just try scheduling a good time for a third-round interview with your star candidate who is about to get an offer from another firm!

Starting to feel the pressure of holiday staffing stress? Having a tough week? How do you spell relief? Try R-E-S-U-M-E-S. As staffing professionals, we can take comfort in the fact that our industry continues to grow, our commission-based earning potential is unlimited, and our jobs are diverse. But, for me, the fastest relief from the stress and pressures of our work always came from those unforgettable applicants that I affectionately called the turkeys and hams of the job market.

If you don’t already have your own personal file of ridiculous resumes and cover letter bloopers, then start one now. They are guaranteed to get you laughing during those moments when your work is getting you down. With qualifications like “specializing in the impossible,” and “rabid typist,” these awkward and often over-the-top applicants remind us not to take anything too seriously.

In the book Resumes from Hell, Jon Reed and Rachel Meyers share the unforgettable finds from their resume files. Some gems include: “I am a work horse who doesn’t wear horse-blinders” (I suppose that’s one way to say you are hard-working and open-minded) and “In my spare time I like to work on my computer and do various activities with my girlfriend.”

Yes, as staffing professionals, we have ample proof that truth is stranger - and funnier - than fiction. Whether it’s listing too many hobbies, making careless errors, or simply giving too much information, those misguided job-seekers at least hit the target in making us laugh. Here are some more excerpts from classic Turkey and Ham resumes:

OBJECTIVE: “To find a gig” or "My goal is to be a meteorologist. But since I possess no training in meteorology, I suppose I should try stock brokerage."

EDUCATION: “I enjoy learning for its own sake, and while I’ve never quite gotten a degree, I am quite close to several.” Or this gem: “Curses in liberal arts, curses in computer science, curses in accounting."

IDEAL JOB: "Animation/Web Design/Creative Invironment But not one in which they think of themselves as ‘rock and roll’/many small breaks as apposed to 1 or 2 long ones/Neutral colors (no loud reds or violets)/Boss of average height, not too tall, though not strangely small (though I guess I could get used to just about anything given time)."

EXPERIENCE: "Perishable Manager" and (my personal favorite) "Fanny Pack Designer."

SKILLS: "I have lurnt Word Perfect 6.0 computor and spreadsheet progroms."

LANGUAGES: "Exposure to German for two years, but many words are not appropriate for business."

PERSONAL INTERESTS: "Donating blood. 15 gallons so far."

REFERENCES: "None, I've left a path of destruction behind me." or “My mother.”


Turkey and ham cover letters are great, too. Wouldn’t you want to interview the guy who was instrumental in ruining the entire operation for a Midwest chain store? Just remember not to take the comments of his former employers too seriously as they were “unappreciative beggars and slave drivers." Then there’s the lady who left her last job because her employers insisted that all employees get to work by 8:45 a.m. every morning. She just could not work under those conditions. I wonder if she’s related to the girl who left her previous employment for maturity leave; please don’t misconstrue her 14 jobs as job-hopping. She has never quit a job.

Now that you’re stuffed full of turkey and ham for this Thanksgiving season, remember to count your blessings. How about sending a few thank-you notes to clients and candidates for allowing you to have one of the best (or at least most entertaining) jobs on earth?

- Charlene Dupray

Charlene Dupray is a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forgets details. She is grateful for her years of experience as Manager in a full-service staffing agency in New York. She now lives in Wilmington, NC, where writes for the staffing industry and runs a bonbon business (