A few years ago a friend asked me to assist her with her Christmas hiring for a local “women’s fragrance and cosmetic” store that she owned.  The request was very simple, as all she had asked me to do was to go through the resumes she had acquired and, using my recruiter’s eye, select the ones I felt were the best.

Like most retail establishments, this store never had to advertise for sales positions as a large number of applicants simply walk in and drop off their resumes.  And, because of appealing nature of this particular business, I soon found myself in possession of a fairly large pile of resumes, mostly of high school and college age young ladies seeking part-time work.

The process of recruiting for Christmas help is no different than for any other position in any type firm, except for the amount of time and depth devoted to the search.  To start, I took the pile of resumes and, based “mostly” on prior employment history, divided them into three piles … “yes, maybe, and no”.  I say “mostly” because there was another “pre-screen” factor available to me.  Because, right or wrong, after each applicant had left the store, the staff on duty would write a brief note on the resume, such as “very nice”, “no way”, etc.

I had placed the resume for a young lady, Julie, who lived down the street from me in the smaller “yes” pile.  Her resume, which had “very nice” penciled on it, was fairly bleak as she had never had a job outside of babysitting.  However, she had done some babysitting for ME and I knew that her to be a delightfully pleasant, responsible and trustworthy person.  I called her up … “Julie, I’m helping my friend with her Christmas hiring and I’d like to set up an interview for you”.  Her reply was, “Oh, thank you, however my plans have changed and I’m going out west for Christmas … but my friend ‘Jennifer’ would be interested … she applied at the same time that I did”.

I looked for Jennifer’s resume, which was to be found in the “no” pile.  She had worked in retail before, however it was for one of the “dollar” type of discount stores and I didn’t see a fit with the image of my friend’s more upscale business.  In addition, someone had written the word “Snooty” on the upper right hand corner of her resume.

OK, seeing that Jennifer had being recommended by Julie, I moved her to the “maybe” pile.  Ten minutes later my phone rang and, as Julie had called her, I found myself speaking with Jennifer.  I liked her personality, moved her to the “yes” pile and agreed to set up an interview for her with my friend.

Well, you can guess where this is heading … she was hired, then became a full time employee, then store manager, and eventually, several years later, bought the franchise from my friend.
I later told her the story of how I had originally “deselected” her and whenever she would see me in the mall she’d point me out to someone and, loud enough for me to hear, say with a smile, “There’s the guy that wasn’t going to hire me”.

Doug Seville is co-founder and director of DSML Executive Search, a member of the CFR Global Executive Search Network. Photo by

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