Never Ask for a Resume If You Want to Hire a Superstar

By Kevin on June 24, 2012 in Best Of, Uncategorized

You have an opening, and you only want to hire the cream of the crop. “A-players” you probably call them.

So you post a job opening your website, on other job boards, and give it to your recruiter, and your ad reads something like this:

“AverageCo seeks blah blah blah and requires blah blah blah. Interested individuals should send their resume to…”

Boom! Did you hear that? You just shot yourself in the foot.

By asking for a resume you just guaranteed that you will never find an A-player.

Before I explain, let me raise the stakes.

I’ll see your “A-player”, and up the ante by saying what you really want is someone who is a 1-percenter. In whatever they do—sales, programming, management—they are considered among the top 1% of all performers. They are talented, they are innovators, they are engaged employees. I prefer to call them “super heroes.” Those with unique ability, unique passion, and unique commitment to their employer’s goals. Can you imagine if your company was filled with those?

So what’s the problem with asking for a resume?

The first problem is that super stars never have an up-to-date resume. Most have no resume at all.

They are too busy closing that million dollar account to be working on their resume.

They are too busy coding around the clock to meet that ship date to work on their resume.

They are too busy leading and supporting others to be working on their resume.

The second problem is confidentiality. If I’m a senior executive or a superstar in a small industry, I don’t want proof out there that I’m looking for a job. Who knows what kind of evil-gossip-monger is on the other end of that resume-submission-pit?!

So, when your ad insists on a resume, you lose all those candidates that have the real mojo. They have nothing send, or don’t have the time to write one, or they put it on their to-do list where it stays until your opportunity is forgotten.

You might be wondering why a Corporate Super Hero would even be browsing the open job posts if they are too busy to have a resume. The reality is that while they are indeed passive candidates they do occasionally get posts:

  • Sometimes they have a bad day and decide to browse listings on the couch at night
  • Sometimes friends just send them interesting job openings
  • Sometimes they’ve set up online alerts to automatically forward them interesting posts
  • Really good recruiters will find a way to get them on the phone (Voicemail from headhunter: “Hi Aneeta, this is Kevin. Can you give me a quick call back? I got dumped on a project today and I’m not sure what to do with it. Dave gave me your name as a possible solution. I’m at…”)

So, Corporate Super Heroes are occasionally interested in new career opportunities, but never have a resume ready to go, so they don’t respond to your normal ad.

The solution is to explicitly state that they can call someone “right now” for more information, and that you’d love to hear from them even if they don’t have a resume. A job post that attracts Corporate Super Heroes—the 1-percenters—looks like:

AwesomeCo is looking for a [PositionName] to join our AwesomeProject. We are looking for someone who is Trait1, Trait2, and Trait3.

Does this sound like you? If so, call xxx-xxx-xxxx right NOW or e-mail [email protected]. We want to hear from you even if you don’t have a resume.

Also, We know the XYZ industry is tight-knit and so your call will be 100% confidential and off-the-record.

It’s not that you won’t get a resume eventually. But the entire of goal of the ad is to uncover the 1-percenters. Once they call, your recruiter sells the company and position, which then makes it easier to “close” for a resume, or a job application.

Remember, aim high. And realize that Corporate Super Heroes are too busy saving Gotham to have their resume written and up to date.


Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and keynote speaker. Get more success and tips from his newsletter at and check out keynote video clips. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.

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