The standard job application, a cover letter and a resume, is a phenomenally weak way to introduce a candidate. It gives you only the faintest clues as to the quality of an applicant.

Sometimes, though, a resume gives pretty strong negative clues that allow you to screen out applicants without going much further. Once I got a resume from someone who claimed to be an expert in Microsoft Window [sic] programming. Another time the only experience listed on the application was a job at Dunkin' Donuts. That resume did a pretty good job of following all the suggestions that high school career-guidance advisors love to give out ...

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